When Matt Ellefson developed a cough, he didn’t think much of it. He just assumed it was caused by the cold winter air, but as the weeks passed by his cough lingered.
Then he began coughing up blood.
Within hours of going to the ER, Matt was diagnosed with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, and the prognosis wasn’t good. With treatment, he faced a five-year survival rate of less than five percent.
His diagnosis in December 2009 was a complete shock. He was a non-smoker and lived a healthy and fit lifestyle. Soon after being diagnosed, Matt enrolled in an aggressive clinical trial. After five months, his cancer went into remission.
One year later his cancer resurfaced and it had spread. Treatment options were extremely slim. While waiting for his doctor for follow-up testing, he learned about a targeted gene therapy that was recently approved. However, the odds were still against him. Patients typically developed resistance to the medicine in eight months.
Three years later, Matt is living an active, happy life controlling his disease thanks to advances and innovations in cancer medicines. He runs marathons, participates in cycling competitions, and explores the world with his family. If he does become resistant to his current medicine, there have been three new drugs approved, so now he has other options.
He has hope because of the progress made in cancer research.
Matt’s story is part of PhRMA’s new campaign, I’m Not Average, to share inspirational stories from individuals about the powerful impact advances and innovations in cancer medicines have had on their lives.
For more information on the I’m Not Average campaign, please visit www.phrma.org/cancer.
Join the conversation about advances and innovations in cancer medicines using the hashtag #NotAverage.