Chris Shepard

47 year old with Stage IV melanoma

 

In 2010,  I had an odd looking mole on the inside of my knee. Within a week of getting it looked at, I was at St. Joseph's Hosipital in Orange getting filleted open in three different areas. My sentinel lymph nodes came back clean. The operation was a success and the cancer seemed to be locally abated. I went through rigorous follow up exams by three different doctors every 4 months for the first year and once a year after that.

I was training this spring to do the Camp Pendelton Marine Corp Mud Run and found a knot in my leg. At first I thought I hurt myself. Then it dawned on me that it was upstream from where I had it the original tumor removed. After a series of appointments, I found that I had a tumor in my leg that was 17mm by 13 mm and it had spread through my lymph nodes into my lungs and liver. At first the news was sickening. My blood pressure was 180 over 130 as I had not been able to sleep for days. Dr. Jakowatz at the UCI Medical Center recommended me to a couple different oncologiists. He also said, "What are you worried about? You have this and you need to get it treated. It sucks and nobody likes it. It is like taxes and you are just going to have to deal with it."

I have been receiving immunology treatments per the care of Dr. Steven O'Day at the Beverly Hills Cancer Center. I cannot speak more highly of Dr. O'Day or of the wonderful care of everyone at that center. I feel very fortunate to be where I am. After finishing my 4 rounds of Yervoy infusions, the CT scans showed my nodules in my lungs and lesions on my liver to be shrinking. The tumor in my leg however was enlarged. The Yervoy will have a sustained durable effect progressively gaining strength for up to 3 to 4 months. I would have either waitied and go through additional CT scans in 6-9 weeks or start a trial of PD1. I figured if I was going to be a bear, I was going to be a grizzly. Hence, I went with the PD1 trial.  

I will be getting my third infusion of PD1 on September 15th. They purposely left the tumor in my leg to serve as a benchmark to see how I am reacting to the infusions. By touch, which is subjective, it seems to be signficantly smaller. We shall see in October when I get my last infusion and then another run of CT scans. I remain optimistic that I will beat this. I feel very fortunate to be receiving these state of the art treatments with such great care from Dr. O'Day and the Beverly Hills Cancer Center. Stay strong and vigilant!  

Kind Regards,

Chris Shepard

Sun, 2014-08-31

Comments

ConstructionCM - (11/22/2014 - 3:30pm)

It is nothing short of miraculous that I am in complete remission of Stage 4 melanoma after being diagnosed last May. I went through PET and CT scans and there is only some minor scarring as to where the cancer was located.  The cancer is completely gone! I will be continuing the PD1/Keytruda infusions for the next 6-9 months at the Beverly Hills Cancer Center under the care of Dr. Steven O'Day.

Words do not do justice to express the elation and relief that my family and I feel.  We feel so fortunate.  A big kudos goes out to everyone at the Beverly Hills Cancer Center.  The care and service was excellent by everyone and the experience culminates with the care and guidance of Dr. Steven O'Day who is an expert in the field of treating metastatic melanoma. I cannot thank all of you enough.

Keep fighting the fight and no matter what happens keep positive!  There is hope.

Chris 

Sheryljane - (1/24/2016 - 10:55am)

Thanks so much for sharing There are so many ups and downs Physically and emotionally I have had 4 keytruda infusions at Sloan in NYC Brain results very positive Body scan forthcoming Such a scary ride but feel like these drugs are miracles Trying to stay positive Just loving life

Lyn Najdek - (1/31/2016 - 8:18pm)

My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma in Sept 2015, with a brain met.  He had surgery that removed the brain met and the primary tumor on his back.  He also received Gamma Knife Radiation to the area in his brain that they removed the tumor. He was given 6 months to live if he didn't have treatment.  It was in his right axillary lymphnode, soft neck tissue, lungs, a huge tumor, the size of an orange on his left scalpula, and kideny.  They started him on Keytruda in Ocotober.  He goes every 21 days for a 30 min IV inusion.  He is tollerating the treatments very well, the only side effect he has is fatigue the day of and sometimes the next day.  We knew that it was working when the tumor on his left scapula was going down and the pain from it was subsiding, but we didn't how the rest of his body was responding to it.  But he looks great and feels great.  A matter of fact, he's gained 30lbs while undergoing treatment.  WHO gains weight while being treated, but I don't care because it's working!!  He had a Brain MRI on 1/21/16 and we received great results this past Tuesday 1/26/16, where they said he had no reaccurance and that he no longer needed to follow up with the radiation oncologist.  He had a CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis on 1/29/16, and we knew that we would have to wait until Tuesday 2/2/16 for results because he has his 6th treatment of Keytruda.  Well I received a phone call on Friday regarding his scans (we only had them done that morning). It was the oncologist office, I was at work, I thought they were going to tell me that I needed to take him to the hospital, but they were calling to tell me that he had 100% resolution in all of his body except his lungs, where there is little disease left.  Couldn't have been a better week.  I pray for everyone going through this, and I hope that there will be a cure and we just don't have to say NED.  Godbless to all of you because this fight is a gruelling one.  These drugs are miraculous!! He is being treated at the Cancer Center in Stony Brook, on Long Island NY, and I couldn't be happier.

Prayers to you and yours that your scans come out clean and thank you for your inspirational story

 

 

ConstructionCM - (2/27/2016 - 1:06pm)

Lyn,

I cannot tell you how happy I am for you and your husband.  To be diagnosed with Stage IV and after just 6 infusions of Keytruda,  to show so much success in fighting the cancer is nothing short of amazing/miraculous.  I can't wait to hear how your next set of scans go.  When I switched from the Yervoy to the Keytruda,  the tumor in my leg "melted away" and after six weeks had completely disappeared by touch. All of us have so much to be gratefull for and it really does change your appreciation and perspective on life. Wishing you and your husband continued success and the both of you will be in my prayers!  Keep fishting the fight!  

Wishing you all the best,

Chris 

ConstructionCM - (2/27/2016 - 12:55pm)

Sheryljane,

I am glad to hear you are keeping such a positive attitude as that is so important.  Worrying about things that you do not have control over is not positive use of energy.  I know it is easier said than done and that it is human nature to think the worst when you do not know.  Stay positive and fight the fight!  I am glad you had poitive brain scans and hope you have continued success with your other scans.  Please keep us updated. You will be in my thoughts and prayers!

Chris 

BP - (12/30/2014 - 2:59am)

Thank you for posting. I am also getting Yervoy but may bail due to side effects. If you or anyone experienced low Thyroid numbers .06 and .7 , what were you told  or how was that managed?

thanks

bruce

ConstructionCM - (1/10/2015 - 3:57pm)

Bruce,

The Dr. put me on thyroid medicine to counter the effects of the yervoy infusions.  I had a low thyroid count (hypo) to begin with so they had me on a medicine increased the productiion of the hormone.  Before every infusion,  I would get my blood work tested and evaluated to make sure that my liver, kidneys, etc could handle the infusion.  At one point,  I was taken off the medicine because I was over producing and then about a month later I was put back on it.  So they monitored the thyroid levels and adjusted as need through out the treatment process.  I hope this answers your question.

Wishing you the best!

Chris 

hopeagain - (7/5/2015 - 1:24am)

Hi, 

As a past patient of Dr. O'Day, we are trying to reach Dr. O'Day but I don't see him mentioned as one of the physicians of the Beverly Hills Clinic anymore according to their website. Do you know if he is still there? 

This is the 3rd or 4th time I have tried to post this information. He is at St. John's in Santa Monica. Call Rob at 310-315-6125. Good Luck