Ron was initially diagnosed with muscle-invasive, high-grade urothelial bladder cancer in September 2013. His urologist in McAllen, Texas, referred him to MD Anderson, where he was introduced to Dr. Jianjun Gao, who agreed to prescribe and oversee an eight-week course of chemotherapy administered in McAllen.
In January 2014, Ron had surgery to remove the bladder, prostate, and lymph nodes. One year later, CT and bone scans showed the cancer had metastasized to the bones. At this time, Dr. Gao told him the future was bleak and, at most, he had six months to live.
In April 2015, however, Ron underwent tests and Dr. Gao called him to let him know that he was approved to participate in a clinical trial combining the immunotherapies nivolumab (Opdivo®) and ipilimumab (Yervoy®). Ron and his wife, Brenda, drove the six hours from McAllen to Houston every 10 days from April to August that year for tests and treatment. Ron’s last treatment was in September 2015, following four combined doses and seven single doses of immunotherapy.
In March 2020, six years after diagnosis and four years out of treatment, he remains stable. After retiring from law enforcement in 2000, Ron and Brenda now enjoy traveling the country in their Airstream.