Survivor Stories

William Winn, Stage IV

Date Diagnosed: 08/03/2015

I was first diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma in October 2015, although my cancer was first detected in August 2015. Tumors were discovered in my lung and colon. Doctors thought I had either lung or colon cancer that had spread to the other organ. Surgery was scheduled to remove the colon tumor first with the plan being to remove the lung tumor a few weeks later. The colon tumor turned out to much larger than was thought and during surgery they took over 30 samples to be studied by pathologists at Mayo and Johns Hopkins. Most of the colon, part of the liver, the gall bladder, appendix, many lymph nodes and part of the small intestine were removed.

Surprisingly, six weeks later it was determined that the cancer was melanoma. Immediate Pet Scans revealed the cancer had spread to the small intestine, shoulder, ribs, spleen and brain. The lung tumor was growing. The disease had spread so quickly and extensively that few options were available but we did have hope. It was decided that gamma knife would be used to attack the brain tumor and I would begin immunotherapy treatments with a promising new drug named Opdivo. Gamma knife was successful and my body responded well to the Opdivo treatments.

I am about to start round 23 of Opdivo and my last scans revealed no evidence of disease in the neck, abdominal and pelvic areas. Within months I was able to return to my normal life of family, work and coaching my little league baseball and YMCA basketball teams and have a new appreciation for life.

A million thanks to doctors Timothy Huyck, Ali Mirmiran, and Alan Thorson for truly saving my life and adding years to it. I have never once lost hope and am truly blessed to be part of the first generation of cancer patients that have access to immunotherapies not available even a year before I was diagnosed. Without it I would have only survived a few months.

Next week will be 2 YEARS since my original cancer was detected. Life is good.