Cancer Patient Enjoying Life Again, On Heels Of Aggressive Drug Treatment

By Jeff Neumeyer

April 20, 2012 Updated Apr 20, 2012 at 6:24 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- A Fort Wayne man, diagnosed with a terminal illness, has made a remarkable recovery with the help of a high-powered cancer drug.

Doctors didn’t give Joel Saunders much hope of surviving, let alone leading a normal life.

This time last year, Saunders' brain and body were wracked with cancer.

That's not the case now, and a cutting edge drug called Yervoy gets part of the credit.

It’s uplifting to see Saunders relaxing in the backyard of his northside home with his wife and daughter, considering Metastatic Melanoma had essentially given him a death sentence.

The Mayo Clinic performed multiple surgeries on Saunders, trying to rid him of the disease, but last spring, 25 tumors were growing throughout his body.

Saunders was one of the first patients in the country to try out the newly approved drug Yervoy.

He started feeling better after his last treatment in June.

Last fall, Saunders and his family took a trip to Disney World, paid for by a charitable foundation out of California.

He's been told other Fort Wayne patients using Yervoy haven't fared so well.

Joel Saunders/Cancer Patient: "That's one of the amazing things, and that's what makes us know that there's something else involved besides just medicine and doctors, that God is involved with this."

Kim Saunders/Wife: "We were talking about it recently, and it has been pretty good. We don't get on each other's nerves very often, and we are really enjoying life."

Saunders is scheduled to undergo testing in mid-May, to make sure the cancer remains in remission.

Yervoy isn't even marketed as a cancer cure.

Saunders was told it could stave off the effects of cancer.

Ten months later, it's doing much more than that for him, and he's not complaining.

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