Erik was an avid football fan and sports athlete in both high school and college. Although schoolwork came second for Erik, he graduated from a good college and pursued a career as an IT consultant for many top-tier companies. He always cared more about people than anything else, and throughout his life, has made many lasting friendships. But marrying his wife and having children has been his life's greatest achievement.
When Erik was diagnosed with melanoma, he took it seriously. He had surgery and always stayed out of the sun, wearing floppy hats and covering himself with sunscreen when outdoors. Then fast forward 12 years later. Erik was admitted to the emergency room with a spiking fever that wouldn’t go away.
Spots were found on his lungs, liver, spleen, and bowel. He left the hospital weeks later as a man with advanced melanoma.
Erik and his wife immediately began looking for the right treatment. His first few treatments after diagnosis didn’t work, but he wouldn’t give up. He was determined to find the latest oncology treatments with the hope of finding a clinical trial that was right for him.
I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right. I was shocked to learn the melanoma was back, and much worse than before.- Erik
Through more research and networking, he discovered a trial for an immunotherapy called KEYTRUDA. He joined, and after a few months the response he was hoping for finally came. Scans showed his tumors were shrinking—and they continued to shrink over time. Several months into treatment, Erik started to notice some changes to the skin on his arms, back, leg, and forehead. Erik feels that it might seem odd to some people who notice it, but it helps to remind him of all he has been through.
I try to stay positive. I’m able to keep myself focused on the glass being half full.- Erik, a real patient
Today, his goal is to help others stay strong and find the best cancer treatment options. Erik participates in awareness and fundraising events around the country, and works to educate people about cancer-related topics. His outlook is all about leaving each room he enters a better place, and infusing a positive attitude into all that he does.
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.
KEYTRUDA is a prescription medicine used to treat a kind of skin cancer called melanoma. KEYTRUDA may be used:
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); 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.
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.
In children, feeling tired, vomiting and stomach-area (abdominal) pain, and increased levels of liver enzymes and decreased levels of salt (sodium) in the blood are more common than in adults.
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.