Immunotherapy Cancer Patient Story: Keeping a Positive Outlook When Melanoma Returned

June 18th, 2020

During Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month, we want to share cancer patient stories and how they came to find immunotherapy as a treatment option. 

See how Summer's positive outlook and support system helped her continue the fight when melanoma came back


Overcoming cancer once is a feat of its own. So, when Summer’s doctor told her the melanoma had returned, the news was overwhelming. “I didn’t think I was ever going to have to worry about melanoma ever again,” Summer recalls.

Despite everything, Summer kept a positive outlook and found the determination to fight cancer again.

Moving forward with a plan

 Summer spoke to her doctor and he told her about immunotherapy. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but after talking through options, she felt comfortable with her plan. “My first meeting with my oncologist, he already knew a lot about KEYTRUDA.”

After she started treatment, Summer’s tumors started to shrink. Her mom, Sue, remembers the turning point—“I was happy when the scans started looking better.”

 Replying on a strong support system

With these promising results also came fatigue and a rash, which sometimes made teaching kindergarten more challenging. But going into work every day and seeing the support from her coworkers and students was uplifting. One moment in particular stands out. “My coworkers surprised me at school. When I walked in the door, they were all wearing Summer Strong shirts. All the kids had the shirts on too.”

In addition to support from her school, Summer’s family used her infusions as an opportunity to spend more time with her. Her dad, Johnny, said, “We make sure that there’s somebody there when she’s having these treatments.”

Finding a new perspective

Summer isn’t going to let her melanoma take away the things she likes to do—even if it means being more sun-safe when she goes outside. Her fiancé, Mike, sees this firsthand every day. “She’s going to find a way to not let it affect her life, to adapt and do the things that are necessary, and to make sure we all put sunscreen on.”

Experiences with KEYTRUDA differ among individuals. KEYTRUDA will not work for everyone, and it's important to be informed about possible side effects. Always talk to your doctor or health care team if you have questions about your treatment.

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.)