Paul Zygielbaum, USA Mesothelioma patient life back thanks to Keytruda!
Oct 21, 2015 — I am a 65-year-old guy. I was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2004. Through 2012, I had undergone four surgeries and intraoperative chemotherapy. Several inoperable tumors remained, and they began to grow more rapidly in 2012. In 2013 I underwent treatment with Tarceva, which proved ineffective in my case. The tumor growth continued to accelerate, and new ones appeared in 2014, breaching the diaphragm and spreading up to the lungs. I underwent treatment with Carboplatin and Alimta, which appeared to stall the tumors but left me debilitated. Late in the year, I continued with Alimta alone, but it proved inadequate. By July of this year, pleural tumors had developed outside the lungs, along with innumerable tumors inside both lungs, a massive tumor behind my liver, and fluid buildup around the heart. I had almost no appetite and had increasing difficulty with breathing. I had lost almost 12 kg of weight. My daily activity was extremely limited, and I was certain that I had just a few weeks to live. I had a series of palliative radiation treatments focused on the liver tumor, intended to relieve the pressure I could feel. I started Keytruda infusions on July 15, as a last resort. Shortly after the second infusion in early August, I began to feel better. After five infusions, I have regained about 6 kg, my appetite is excellent, my breathing is much easier, I am back to doing normal activities, and I feel genuinely good. I eagerly await my next CT scan in November, but it seems to me that the tumors must have been greatly affected. Keytruda is the miracle I was hoping for.
(Further update on Paul who sent this email to me on 14 Nov 2015 after his latest November scan)!
Well, I had another CT scan today. You will recall that the last one, in August, showed that all the mesothelioma tumors in my chest and abdomen were stable, no longer growing. That was almost certainly the result of the Keytruda treatment.
Today, I am thrilled to report that all the tumors, everywhere, are substantially smaller. In fact, most of the tumors in my lungs have disappeared, and the rest are less well-defined, suggesting that they are dying as well. There is no more fluid around my lungs or heart. The pleural (lining of the lung) tumor is reduced. The big mass behind my liver is reduced by about half, certainly from the radiation treatments and probably additionally from the Keytruda. There is less encasement and narrowing of the vena cava by that mass. The few enlarged abdominal lymph nodes are also smaller.
I can tell you that I was not very surprised by this phenomenal result, because my energy has continued to increase, my appetite is great (I’ve regained half the weight I had lost and have muscles again), and my breathing is much deeper than it was. I feel good and wake up every morning ready for the day’s activities. I have returned to a fairly busy schedule.
But it is still rather astounding to read that report, which I’ve done at least 4 times this afternoon.
My seventh infusion is also scheduled next week. I have no doubt now that I will stay on Keytruda infusions for the rest of my life, unless it stops being effective or I develop intolerable side effects. Or if research produces something better!
I can’t express the strangeness and awe of having been so close to death and accepting it (not my first time, either), and then surviving, especially after such a long fight. It is wonderful and inspiring. It changes every thing but one: the love around me, for which I will always feel especially privileged.
Now I just have to remember to look both ways before crossing the street. Nothing eliminates the everyday hazards! Have courage, and feel the joy around you.