A Cancer Patient’s Experience With Immunotherapy

After a cancer diagnosis, it’s important that you gather as much information as you can so you can truly advocate for yourself. This includes understanding your specific type of cancer (or that of a loved one), asking questions and exploring treatment options.

Being that June is Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month, it’s a good time to explore how immunotherapy can be used to treat cancer.

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system act against cancer. There are various types of immunotherapy including immune checkpoint inhibitors, T-cell transfer therapy, monoclonal antibodies, treatment vaccines and immune system modulators.

Visit the National Cancer Institute website to learn more about how immunotherapy works against cancer, types of immunotherapy, which cancer can be treated and more.

Immunotherapy Patient Story

This cancer patient story features KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) used in immunotherapy treatment.

See how Roger maintained his strength and sense of humor after his diagnosis

Source: keytruda.com

Committed father

Roger, a longtime transit electrician, is the kind of dad you can find in the garage showing his kids how to replace a fuel line, or in the yard helping them improve their baseball skills. His eldest son is even following in his footsteps by training to become an electrician.

“Everyone wants the best for their kids and wants them to be everything they aspire to be. Getting diagnosed… it changes things,” said Roger.

An unexpected diagnosis

Roger’s diagnosis was made after he went in for what he thought was a pinched nerve in his back. He wasn’t wrong, but it took several appointments to uncover the underlying cause. He had advanced non–small cell lung cancer, and a tumor was pressing against the nerve.

“I actually learned the results of the CT scan before Roger did, since he was at work. As a nurse, I thought I knew what this cancer diagnosis meant,” said Roger’s wife Michelle. “I expected the worst.”

“Michelle was really worried,” Roger said. “She didn’t want the kids seeing me sick. Since she has her experience as a nurse, she took on a lot of the work, researching online, and talking to my doctor. Michelle’s awesome, she’s my rock. She does everything.”

Treatment Options

After testing for a biomarker known as PD-L1, Roger’s doctors prescribed KEYTRUDA. “An immunotherapy like KEYTRUDA sounded really interesting,” he said.

In the beginning, he experienced a mild fever and some achiness. Nine weeks later, his first scan showed that his tumors were shrinking.

“My doctor had a pretty good poker face,” joked Roger. “But we could tell he was happy with how KEYTRUDA was working for me. As of my last scan, things were still looking good.”


In the year after his diagnosis, Roger celebrated several milestones he wasn’t sure he’d see.

“I wasn’t sure I’d make it to my 20th anniversary. But Michelle and I managed to sneak away to a resort for the weekend, to celebrate our years together. I also got to see two of my sons graduate, and helped my daughter Rachel celebrate her one-year wedding anniversary.”

Read more.

Could Immunotherapy Be A Treatment Option For You?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and you’re wondering if immunotherapy is a good treatment option, make an appointment to speak with your doctor.

Some specific questions you can ask are:

Will my cancer respond to immunotherapy?

Can I have the testing necessary to determine this? (i.e. Tumor Mutational Burden, Microsatellite Instability, Lymphocyte Infiltration, PD-L1 Expression, etc.)