• Immunotherapy patient with doctors

Immunotherapy Offers Hope

For Patients with Advanced Bladder Cancer

For Ronald Becker of Highland Park, an hour-and-15-minute drive to Tinley Park every three weeks is a small price to pay for a “miracle treatment” that’s put his bladder cancer in remission.

Ronald’s treatment – immunotherapy – is the first ray of hope for people with advanced bladder cancer, whose fiveyear survival rate is typically less than 15 percent.

The wonder drug is Tecentriq, one of a group of revolutionary treatments called checkpoint inhibitors that make it possible for the patient’s immune system to attack cancer.

Normally, the immune system protects the body against viruses and bacteria. Cancer cells, however, “trick” the immune system so the cancer can multiply unchecked.

“Checkpoint inhibitors like Tecentriq allow the immune system to do what it was designed to do, in this case, fight cancer,” explains hematologist/oncologist James Wallace, MD.

One of the most exciting aspects of immunotherapy is that it has the potential to work universally in all cancers.

When Ronald began immunotherapy treatments at Ingalls in April 2016, he was out of options. Two previous courses of chemotherapy had failed to stop the spread of his cancer.

Luckily, the new therapy was available at Ingalls as part of an expanded-access clinical trial; he was enrolled in the study before his cancer had a chance to spread any further.

A month after Ronald enrolled in the study at Ingalls, Tecentriq received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and it became available at cancer centers across the country – including a hospital five minutes from Ronald’s home.

But by that time, the 82-year-old father of two and grandfather of four had already bonded with Dr. Wallace, clinical research nurse Amber Kindt, RN, BSN, OCN, and the caring team at the Ingalls Outpatient Infusion Center in Tinley Park.

“I like the people there, and I’m very grateful to Dr. Wallace for getting me into this program” says Ronald.

Best of all, the new treatment causes very few side effects. “I’m still working,” he adds. “When I had chemo, I used to go home and go to bed. I’m a little tired now, but otherwise, I feel great.”

For more information, call Ingalls Cancer Care at 708.915.HOPE (4673).

Success Stories
  • Title

    Inspirational stories of courage and hope

Progress Magazine