Joel Saunders is doing well
We’re extremely pleased to report that Joel Saunders is still doing very well one year after he began undergoing treatment with Yervoy at Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology. Yervoy is a new drug aimed at prolonging the lives of people with stage 4 melanoma cancer.
On April 12, Joel was here for routine testing that indicated he was faring well. He’s scheduled to return for a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on May 16.
It was PET and MRI scans that first showed Joel’s cancer was in complete remission last August, just four months after he started treatment with Yervoy at FWMOH. Additional scans in December of last year indicated the cancer was still in remission.
“That was quite a Christmas gift for us,” says Joel’s wife, Kimberly. “Joel is feeling good. He’s even able to work in the yard, although he tires easily.”
Joel’s cancer, which began as a pea-sized growth near the right-side junction of his neck and shoulder, was first diagnosed as stage 2 in 2009. The growth was removed, but Joel’s cancer manifested itself in other areas.
Joel was eventually referred to FWMOH, where his oncologist has been Dr. Matthew Carr. In February 2010, it was determined that Joel’s cancer had advanced to stage 4, terminal. Then began what have become regular visits to the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where Joel has undergone additional surgeries and treatment.
Here at FWMOH last April, Joel was perhaps the first person in Indiana, and one of just a few in the whole country, to undergo treatment with Yervoy, shortly after it was approved by the Federal Drug Administration.
Yervoy is the first treatment developed specifically to treat patients with stage 4 melanoma. Patients who received treatment with Yervoy had been twice as likely to survive during both the first and second year after treatment.
Joel received four intravenous doses of Yervoy over the course of 12 weeks. While it can take up to six months for the full benefits of Yervoy to manifest, Joel experience marked improvement after just one dose.
“We’re delighted that Joel has responded so well to Yervoy,” says Dan Konow, chief operating officer for Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology. “Outcomes such as this are the reason we remain dedicated to offering our patients the latest in treatment options.”