Melanoma survivor: An immunotherapy clinical trial was my best option

I was diagnosed with stage IV acral lentiginous melanoma in August 2014. The year before, I had bumped my thumb against the side of a pool. When the injury didn’t heal with antibiotics, my doctor scheduled a tissue biopsy. After I found out I had melanoma, my biggest worry was what life would be like for my wife and four sons if I were not around. The thought of my wife raising our 15-year-old son and 13-year-old triplets alone worried me more than death itself. Choosing MD Anderson for melanoma treatment My friends and neighbors told me to seek treatment at MD Anderson. I knew it was the No. 1 cancer center in the nation and had leading experts in melanoma. I wanted the best chance to survive, so I traveled to Houston from St. Louis. Once I got to MD Anderson and met Patrick Hwu, M.D., in November 2014, I quickly knew I was in the right place. Dr. Hwu worked with my local doctor so I could stay close to home and my family while I began a combination immunotherapy using ipilimumab and nivolumab. If that didn’t work, Dr. Hwu would have me try a different type of immunotherapy. And if that didn’t work, I could enroll in a T-cell therapy clinical trial that he recommended. I appreciated his expertise. The path to the right melanoma treatment When the tumors continued to grow in my lungs after the initial immunotherapy, Dr. Ara Vaporciyan surgically removed them in January 2016. During the surgery, I had my T cells harvested in case I enrolled in that clinical trial. Eleven...