Uncle Sergio


Filomena Servidio-Italiano, president, CEO, and founder of Colorectal Cancer Resource & Action Network (CCRAN) shares an inspiring story about her Uncle Sergio and his battle with lung cancer.
Sergio’s story starts back in October 2019 when Filomena urged him to seek out lung cancer screening through the pilot program in Ontario, which was available for long term smokers.  He went to his primary care physician, who ordered an x-ray after something seemed amiss when listening to his chest. This led to a CT scan that showed a mass in the upper left lobe of his lung. Unfortunately, their greatest fears were confirmed with a diagnosis of large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, a rare subtype of lung cancer accounting for only 2-3% of all lung cancer cases. This rare finding jumpstarted his cancer journey, and Filomena’s resolve to ensure he got the best care possible.
While undergoing surgical resection, his physicians realized that his disease had actually spread, which was not what his scans showed. He had an upper lobectomy and wedge resection, and additional disease was identified in the right lung as well. However, Filomena recalls that although he had some comorbidities, he felt okay and was ready and willing to tackle his disease head-on. He started on chemotherapy, which initially was working well, but ended up hospitalized and on dialysis for approximately 4 months due to neutropenia and renal dysfunction. His chemotherapy treatments had to stop after having received only 3 cycles. Filomena pushed for genomic profiling for Uncle Sergio’s cancer because knowing of any specific genetic mutations driving the cancer can make all the difference in patient’s treatment, especially in a case like Sergio’s where there is limited research and few treatment options for his type of cancer.
“He just really wants to live. He has a wonderful, huge family who is highly supportive. He just wants to live, and if we can target some type of mutation through a promising clinical trial, maybe that’s the way to go”, Filomena recalls.
His oncologist ordered the biomarker tests that came back with a KRAS G12C mutation, which was promising as this could be the way forward through a clinical trial. But his renal injury at the time disqualified him from accessing that study. But along came something better. He started on the immunotherapy nivolumab in November 2020 after completing dialysis and has been on it ever since. His disease has almost completely resolved, he has no side effects, and most importantly, Sergio has felt well and is living life with joy and passion. He’s able to see his family and friends, and there have been no issues ever since.
Sergio repeatedly says to Filomena, “I don’t feel like I have cancer at all. I feel as though I take these trips to the cancer center, for what? I have a therapy that lasts less than an hour, and then I’m able to go about my day. But no one would even know I have cancer. And more importantly, no one would ever know I have lung cancer, which is a death sentence for most people”.
“I’ve been around a lot longer than I should be, and my disease is pretty much gone. I hope I can continue on this path for as long as I can. My hope is for everyone to experience these types of results. I’m so grateful and appreciative of having access to this therapy, and able to live life in such a meaningful way. I can put one foot in front of the other and greet life with hope”.