“It was devastating,” Thompson says. “It feels like everything in you is taken away.” Miller presented two options. The first was hospice care that would provide Thompson the comfort he needed in the 30 to 40 days he had left, or he could try treatment. Even with chemo, Thompson’s prognosis was bleak, adding just 90 days to his life.
Miller was ready to write a referral for wherever the Thompsons wanted to go for treatment, but they wanted to stay where they were with Dr. Miller. Thompson says it was Miller’s honesty and directness that he valued.
Always the fighter, Thompson began intensive chemotherapy. “With chemo, the balance is always between the benefit of the treatment versus the toxicity of the treatment,” Miller says.
Thompson went from weighing 210 pounds to 125, and suffered severe nerve damage in his feet as a result of the first drug. The second drug worked better, but it wasn’t a long-term solution.
Then in December 2015, a new drug hit the scene—OPDIVO. Unlike chemo, OPDIVO is an immunotherapy, which means it stimulates the immune system to fight the cancer. For Thompson, OPDIVO was a life saver. Not only did it put his cancer in remission, but it allowed Thompson to return to normal life. That was nearly six years ago.
Thompson will remain on OPDIVO for the rest of his life, but he’s not complaining. He’s just thanking Dr. Miller. “When he talks to you, you can look in his eyes and know he cares about his patients,” Thompson says.