Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap tap. Tap.
Her right thumb beat a jittery tattoo on the wooden arm of the recliner. Despite her veteran status in the chemotherapy infusion center at the Christ Hospital, order Paula Schroer still quivered at the approach of the needle. Tap tap tap.
Yet the needle delivered a drug that for Schroer comes as close to magic as medical science can deliver in the trench warfare against cancer. Nine years ago, Schroer was diagnosed with advanced melanoma, a ferocious disease of which her oncologist, Dr. Philip Leming, said, “When you are diagnosed in July, you are gone by Christmas.”
Yet Schroer is alive today, hanging out with friends, going camping, enjoying retirement. Since 2011, every three months, she has received immunotherapy, a treatment that holds promise in cancer care by stimulating the body’s healing mechanism to step it up and fight malignant cells.
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