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“It just seemed like a really positive idea to build your immune system to be able to fight cancer, instead of just breaking it down with chemotherapy."
For almost a year, Carley Rutledge’s doctors told her that the pain in her leg was a sports injury. When the pain kept getting worse, she saw another doctor who gave her the grave news: she had stage IV Ewing’s sarcoma. Carley had been misdiagnosed.
The delay cost her dearly. The aggressive bone cancer had already metastasized, or spread, to distant parts of her body. Carley was treated with chemotherapy and radiation and was cancer-free for about a year. But the cancer eventually returned—just before her first semester of college.
Carley considered having more chemo, but decided instead to try an experimental immunotherapy called FANG, which uses her own tumor cells as a vaccine. She’s lucky she did. Two years later, Carley is now a healthy 19-year-old sophomore studying conservation biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She spent last summer traveling in South Africa—studying endangered species, bungee jumping, swimming with sharks—and proving that cancer was no match for her unstoppable spirit.
TheAnswertoCancer (TheA2C) spoke to Carley about why she chose immunotherapy, the foundation her family started to support teens with cancer, and her plans for the future.
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