Over his 70 years, Mike Wise, a retired chief financial officer, has spent a lot of time in the sun. Growing up three blocks from the neighborhood pool meant he was always outside. And as an adult, his golf hobby often brought him to wide-open courses— with little shade in sight. This sun exposure ultimately led to three separate bouts with skin cancer.
In 2010, Mike’s doctors discovered a squamous cell carcinoma below his left ear lobe. He underwent surgery and then endured two months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
He recovered, but by 2016, the cancer had returned, this time in the form of a melanoma on his scalp, which was quickly removed.
Three years later, he began experiencing serious pain and convulsions—disconcerting symptoms that sent him back to Carilion a third time.
This time, the diagnosis was grim: stage 4 metastatic melanoma. The cancer had spread to his brain, lungs and lower back. Mike was told to get his affairs in order. He called his children and updated his will.
To slow the progression of the disease and improve his chances of survival, Mike’s doctors at Carilion and Blue Ridge Cancer Care prescribed once-monthly infusions of nivolumab (Opdivo), a new immunotherapy treatment. By the second session, his lower back pain and convulsions had subsided. And after the fourth session, the miraculous happened: Mike’s full-body PET scan showed he was cancer-free.
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