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Devorah's Story

Vancouver, B.C.

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In November 2010, I was spending a day with my grandson; when I stood up to go to him, I noticed that my right leg and right arm felt abnormally weak, but these symptoms vanished quickly. The next day, my friend was driving us home from a movie, when my right leg cramped up, my right arm began to shake, and my vision briefly inverted.When I went to the hospital, they initially treated my case as a stroke; however, tests found a tumour in my brain and a tumour in my lung, so it was then assumed that I had lung cancer. I was booked in for brain surgery ten days later, after I returned from a familial obligation in St. Louis, USA. Two days into the trip I was unable to walk without support, and began to experience contractures. I flew home early, immediately admitting myself to the hospital. In the four days that passed before my surgery, my situation had degraded considerably. My tumour had burst, and I began to experience a hemorrhagic stroke; while I could still think clearly, I was unable to speak coherently. After the surgery, the pathology on my tumour came back as stage 4 melanoma. Another, smaller, tumour was discovered by my right ear, which would be treated with full-brain radiation. Between several complications and set-backs, recovery and the radiation, I was in the hospital for seven weeks.

I regained my speech after two weeks, and was able to walk with the assistance of a walker in five weeks. I couldn’t climb up the stairs and I found the smell of food repulsive, so my husband and I lived in the basement suite of our house, and I drank smoothies, until I was able to tolerate food climb stairs, four months later.

In March 2011, the second tumour that had not been removed was found to have grown. It was removed in March 2011 with no complications. Also in 2011, I met with Dr. Klimo, who offered me the trial treatment Ipilumimab. After a pet scan and some chemotherapy, I began the trial. The rest is history! My last treatment was in June 2011, and now I have check-ups every six months and a CT scan every year, and everything has come back clear to date.

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