Immunotherapy Patient Stories

Debbie Guadagno

Area of Research: Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

Debbie’s Story

Just before Christmas in 2014, Debbie Guadagno was looking forward to spoiling her grandkids with presents and spending time at family events. She had no idea that a tumor the size of a football was growing on her kidney until a routine blood test showed elevated calcium levels and she was sent for further testing. Scans showed that the cancer had spread to her liver, lung, and spine. Told she had 18 months to live at best, she found her way “through a stroke of luck” into a clinical trial testing a combination of two immunotherapies—ipilimumab (Yervoy®) and nivolumab (Opdivo®)—as a first-line treatment following surgical removal of the tumor. With the help of her husband, Gary, and sister, Cindy, Debbie made it to all her appointments, receiving treatment for two years before going off the trial. In April of this year—more than four years after her diagnosis—she was declared cancer-free by her medical team.

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