Login with your social media account

Login with Facebook
BROWSE ALL STORIES »

immunocommunity

Featured story

close video

stephen e: colorectal cancer

I'm in a clinical trial for atezolizumab and Avastin.

Can answer questions surrounding the following topics:

What do you hope for the future of cancer treatment?

Most of all, I want the gift of immunotherapy to be accessible to everyone.

Stephen Estrada was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at the age of 28. Stephen is currently in a clinical trial for a checkpoint inhibitor, a type of immunotherapy. Since beginning this treatment, his disease has remained stable, and he has been able to do more of the things he loves, like cooking, trying the latest restaurants, and traveling.  

My name is Stephen Estrada. I live, work, and play in Denver, Colorado. I live with my partner of nearly 8 years, Kenley, and our two dogs Gretel and Joey. I tend to be more of a homebody since my diagnoses, but that suits us all just fine.
 
I was rushed into an emergency colon resection 4 days after my first CT scan showed a "cancer like mass." I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 28. With this diagnosis came the news that I also have a genetic condition known as Lynch Syndrome, which means I’m at an increased risk for many types of cancer.

After healing from surgery, I started a six month course of FOLFOX with Avastin. My tumor shrank enough at that point for me to receive a NanoKnife procedure. During that surgery I also underwent a stomach bypass, small intestine resection, mesenteric resection, gallbladder removal, as well as an intestinal rerouting. None of that was planned, so I was fairly shocked upon waking up.

Cancer changed everything about my life immediately. Once I grieved, I was able to pick the pieces of my life back up and start putting them together. Only this time around, I felt like an altered version of myself.

After another CT scan showed that the NanoKnife failed, I enrolled in an immunotherapy trial in June 2014.

I have what is called MSI-high cancer. This type of cancer was showing great success with immunotherapies and my oncologist felt this would be a great opportunity for me. After thinking about it for a few days, I made the decision to enroll in a phase 1 clinical trial with the study drug MPDL3280a and Avastin.

My current status is that I have stable disease. With the drug I'm on, they have seen people’s tumors shrink and then die, but still remain as a ball of inflammation. That might be the case with me, but there is no safe way to biopsy the tumor to see if it is metabolically active or not. So, I'll just keep on keepin' on!

People who know me know that I research the hell out of anything and everything. That's what got me to where I'm at now. I left my original oncologist because she was a general oncologist, and I wanted the best in the GI cancer world. Every cancer patient deserves the best, but they have to research and be their own advocate. Don't take "no" for an answer. Keep going, keep reading, keep asking questions.

In all the ways cancer has affected me, one way stands out the most. Cancer taught me how to really love myself. Before, I liked who I was. I enjoyed myself and my life. But now I can honestly say I am deeply in love with who I am. And I have cancer to thank for that.

As for the future, I just want to live life fully. Whatever that means. I don't need to climb Mt. Everest or hike across the United States. I just want to live more in the "now." I want to be around the people I love. I want to be more honest with myself and others. I want to enjoy what I do for a living and just be thankful that I'm able to do anything.

But most of all, I want the gift of immunotherapy to be accessible to everyone. Being on my trial has improved my life a million times over, but it hurts when I see my friends in pain from cancer. I want my gift to be everyone else's gift too. I hope that by participating in a trial, I can help make that a reality.

share your story

Others may benefit from hearing your experience and treatment journey.

share your story »

Other patient stories

daniel m: melanoma

Daniel Morrissey was a long way from home when he arrived in Australia in 1959. Born and raised in Ireland, the...

view story »

donna f: lung cancer

When Donna Fernandez was first diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2012, one of her first questions for her...

view story »

jesse c: pancreatic cancer

As a retired pharmacist, Jesse Cugini, 65, knew that science advances through research. When he was diagnosed with...

view story »
view all stories »

join us

Join the ImmunoCommunity to access an important resource for all things related to cancer immunotherapy. Connect with others who have shared experiences and learn about new treatment options.

join us »

donate now

To continue to find the answers to cancer, it takes funding for research. Donate to the Cancer Research Institute today to help us continue to search for answers.


donate »