Immunotherapy treatment helps Vietnam Veteran battle melanoma cancer

Ray Hershey. (WINK News photo)
Ray Hershey. (WINK News photo)

A Vietnam Veteran fights a different battle in Southwest Florida. He said he is currently beating stage four melanoma and no matter what, you have to watch for changes in your body.

Ray Hershey, a Fort Myers Shores resident, lives with his wife, Sharon. Ray survived the war in Vietnam decades ago. But now, he is battling skin cancer.

Ray said a relatively new kind of treatment called, immunotherapy, is working miracles.

“My tumor is only this big,” said Ray as he gestures the size, “and it’s still shrinking!”

That tumor was the size of a cantaloupe.

Ray said he feels great, which is a product of a cancer treatment initially meant to treat lung cancer. He had his treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Ray’s oncologist, Dr. Mahdi Taha, said he is fortunate to be doing so well.

“Immunotherapy, believe it or not, is used in multiple cancer types,” Dr. Taha said.

The procedure uses your body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. It took care of Ray’s melanoma and tumor under his arm.

A new option in melanoma treatment that excites doctors like Paul Rothman, who is the dean and CEO of John Hopkins Medicine. He recently visited Southwest Florida.

“The best drugs today only work on two-thirds of patients we give them to,” Dr. Rothman said.

But immunotherapy is doing the trick for Ray.

“The only side effects I have: I get tired,” Ray said. “Sometimes I don’t want to eat right.”

His advice if you find a suspicious spot on your skin?

“Don’t wait,” Ray said. “The longer you wait, the worse it is.”

A hard lesson Ray does not want anyone else to learn.

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