The tickle in Ron Pasquale’s throat made him cough continuously. When several over-the-counter methods failed to help, he sought medical advice. Nothing could have prepared him for what doctors would find.
“No one is ready to hear a doctor say that you have stage 4 lung cancer,” says the 59-year-old Stroudsburg resident. “You can imagine how I then felt when they couldn’t remove the nodule from my lung lobe surgically because cancer had spread.”
Looking for options, Pasquale put his faith in the care team at Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono. “I had gone there for a second opinion and was told I could get the same excellent care near home,” he says. In February 2016, Pasquale began six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
“From the start, Ron tolerated radiation and chemotherapy very well,” says radiation oncologist Sean Quinlan-Davidson, MD, with Allentown Radiology Oncology Associates and Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. “Ron has been so positive during his cancer journey, and it’s wonderful to see how well he’s done. With advances made in cancer treatment, the day will come when conditions like Ron’s will become more of a chronic illness than a life-threatening condition.”
Pasquale has already benefited from one of those advances – immunotherapy.
“Essentially, immunotherapy awakens the body’s T-cells (T lymphocyte or thymocyte) immune cells that would attack disease, but have been ‘put to sleep’ by cancer,” says Suresh Nair, MD, Physician in Chief, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, who has followed Pasquale’s case. “Our Cancer Institute conducted one of the last clinical trials before the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved immunotherapy four years ago. The future of this therapy is very promising.”
Pasquale received two nivolumab (Opdivo®) treatments for cancer per month for 27 months. He’s been in complete remission since April 2016. Nair says at this point, Pasquale is among 15 to 20 percent of lung cancer patients who respond so exceptionally to treatment. He expects that percentage to increase significantly as research continues.
“I would recommend anyone to Hughes Cancer Center,” Pasquale says. “People touched by cancer in Monroe County are very fortunate to have those wonderful people here.”