Jeff's TRU Story: A Real Patient With Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer (HNSCC)
Head and neck squamous cell cancer


Jeff is a real patient. KEYTRUDA may not work for everyone, but this is his TRU STORY.

See how Jeff took on his diagnosis with unwavering strength and support from his family

See How Jeff Took on His Diagnosis of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer
To learn more, see results from a clinical trial with KEYTRUDA.
Jeff's Journey With Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer

Jeff’s journey

Facing a cancer diagnosis again

Jeff has always been dedicated to his family and his music. But, when he was told his head and neck cancer returned, Jeff had to take some time off from playing the drums. Although there were some hard times, he was determined to follow his passion and do whatever it took to fight back. He eventually started practicing again, finding music as a “sort of meditation in its own way.”

Taking the next step

With the support of his wife and daughter, Jeff and his doctor looked for a treatment option. Along the way, he made sure he had all the information he needed. “We kept asking questions, and the more you ask questions, the more the doctors will give you answers,” Jeff recalls. With his doctor, he looked into several clinical trials. Together, they decided on KEYTRUDA.

Together, Jeff and His Doctor Decided on KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)
I just focused on what I wanted to do and how I wanted to get there, and lucky for me, my wife and family were very supportive through the whole thing.
- Jeff, on his treatment journey

A strong support system

Jeff’s family remained by his side every step of the way. “I promised he would never face any of this alone, and he promised me he would never give up,” said Lorrie about supporting Jeff throughout treatment. Although he experienced some joint pain and fatigue while taking KEYTRUDA, Jeff leaned on his family for support when treatment was hard. With their encouragement, Jeff was able to stay positive and focused. “That’s how we got through it, one step at a time, one hurdle at a time, we just kept at it,” Jeff remembers.

Jeff Leaned on His Family for Support When Treatment Was Hard
See how Jeff’s wife and daughter supported him throughout his fight with cancer.
For anyone going through this, stay positive, fight for yourself, and never give up.
- Jeff, on his experience with KEYTRUDA

Dedicated to his passions

After starting treatment with KEYTRUDA, Jeff and his doctor were seeing the results they had hoped for. As his scans improved, he found that continuing to play music was a big help for him. “I found that just getting up and moving, doing something, really helped. You have to get up, get moving, stay active.”

He’s still that fighter. He still has that spirit, but now you can see that he really enjoys his life to the fullest.
- Kristin, Jeff’s daughter, on her father’s character

As his treatment with KEYTRUDA continued, Jeff was able to play drums regularly and spend more time with his grandchildren. “I enjoy every minute with my grandson and granddaughter. I really didn’t know I’d be able to experience that, and every day I see them I try to enjoy the moment as much as I can.” Jeff’s unwavering positive attitude and perseverance throughout treatment still amaze his entire family.

Experiences with KEYTRUDA differ among individuals. KEYTRUDA will not work for everyone, and it's important to be informed about possible side effects. Always talk to your doctor or health care team if you have questions about your treatment.

Jeff's Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer Patient Story

FDA-Approved Indications

KEYTRUDA is a prescription medicine used to treat a kind of cancer called head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC).

KEYTRUDA may be used with the chemotherapy medicines fluorouracil and a platinum as your first treatment when your head and neck cancer has spread or returned and cannot be removed by surgery.

KEYTRUDA may be used alone as your first treatment when your head and neck cancer has spread or returned and cannot be removed by surgery, and your tumor tests positive for “PD-L1.”

KEYTRUDA may be used alone when your head and neck cancer has spread or returned, and you have received chemotherapy that contains platinum and it did not work or is no longer working.

PD-L1 = programmed death ligand 1.

Important Safety Information

KEYTRUDA is a medicine that may treat certain cancers by working with your immune system. KEYTRUDA can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become severe or life-threatening and can lead to death. These problems may happen any time during treatment or even after your treatment has ended.

Call or see your doctor right away if you develop any symptoms of the following problems or these symptoms get worse:

Lung problems (pneumonitis). Symptoms of pneumonitis may include shortness of breath, chest pain, or new or worse cough.

Intestinal problems (colitis) that can lead to tears or holes in your intestine. Signs and symptoms of colitis may include diarrhea or more bowel movements than usual; stools that are black, tarry, sticky, or have blood or mucus; or severe stomach-area (abdomen) pain or tenderness.

Liver problems, including hepatitis. Signs and symptoms of liver problems may include yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, nausea or vomiting, pain on the right side of your stomach area (abdomen), dark urine, or bleeding or bruising more easily than normal.

Hormone gland problems (especially the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands, and pancreas). Signs and symptoms that your hormone glands are not working properly may include rapid heartbeat, weight loss or weight gain, increased sweating, feeling more hungry or thirsty, urinating more often than usual, hair loss, feeling cold, constipation, your voice gets deeper, muscle aches, feeling very weak, dizziness or fainting, or headaches that will not go away or unusual headache.

Kidney problems, including nephritis and kidney failure. Signs of kidney problems may include change in the amount or color of your urine.

Skin problems. Signs of skin problems may include rash, itching, blisters, peeling or skin sores, or painful sores or ulcers in your mouth or in your nose, throat, or genital area.

Problems in other organs. Signs and symptoms of these problems may include changes in eyesight; severe or persistent muscle or joint pains; severe muscle weakness; low red blood cells (anemia); swollen lymph nodes, rash or tender lumps on skin, cough, shortness of breath, vision changes, or eye pain (sarcoidosis); confusion, fever, muscle weakness, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, memory problems, or seizures (encephalitis); pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs; bladder or bowel problems including needing to urinate more often, leaking of urine, trouble urinating, or constipation (myelitis); and shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, feeling tired, or chest pain (myocarditis).

Infusion (IV) reactions that can sometimes be severe and life-threatening. Signs and symptoms of infusion reactions may include chills or shaking, shortness of breath or wheezing, itching or rash, flushing, dizziness, fever, or feeling like passing out.

Rejection of a transplanted organ. People who have had an organ transplant may have an increased risk of organ transplant rejection if they are treated with KEYTRUDA.

Complications, including graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), in people who have received a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant that uses donor stem cells (allogeneic). These complications can be severe and can lead to death. These complications may happen if you underwent transplantation either before or after being treated with KEYTRUDA. Your doctor will monitor you for the following signs and symptoms: skin rash, liver inflammation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Getting medical treatment right away may help keep these problems from becoming more serious. Your doctor will check you for these problems during treatment with KEYTRUDA. Your doctor may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. Your doctor may also need to delay or completely stop treatment with KEYTRUDA if you have severe side effects.

Before you receive KEYTRUDA, tell your doctor if you have immune system problems such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus; have had an organ transplant or plan to have or have had a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant that used donor stem cells (allogeneic); have lung or breathing problems; have liver problems; or have any other medical problems.

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, tell your doctor. KEYTRUDA can harm your unborn baby. If you are able to become pregnant, your doctor will give you a pregnancy test before you start treatment. Use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 4 months after the final dose of KEYTRUDA. Tell your doctor right away if you think you may be pregnant or you become pregnant during treatment with KEYTRUDA.

If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, tell your doctor. It is not known if KEYTRUDA passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with KEYTRUDA and for 4 months after your final dose of KEYTRUDA.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when used alone include feeling tired; pain, including pain in muscles, bones, or joints and stomach area (abdominal) pain; decreased appetite; itching; diarrhea; nausea; rash; fever; cough; shortness of breath; and constipation.

In children, fever, vomiting, upper respiratory tract infection, headache, and low levels of white blood cells and red blood cells (anemia) are more common than in adults.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when given with certain chemotherapy medicines include feeling tired or weak; nausea; constipation; diarrhea; decreased appetite; rash; vomiting; cough; trouble breathing; fever; hair loss; inflammation of the nerves that may cause pain, weakness, and paralysis in the arms and legs; swelling of the lining of the mouth, nose, eyes, throat, intestines, or vagina; and mouth sores.

Common side effects of KEYTRUDA when given with axitinib include diarrhea; feeling tired or weak; high blood pressure; liver problems; low levels of thyroid hormone; decreased appetite; blisters or rash on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet; nausea; mouth sores or swelling of the lining of the mouth, nose, eyes, throat, intestines, or vagina; hoarseness; rash; cough; and constipation.

These are not all the possible side effects of KEYTRUDA. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please read the accompanying Medication Guide for KEYTRUDA and discuss it with your doctor. The physician Prescribing Information also is available.