Doug Russell: “I was not going to let the cancer beat me.”

Doug Russell

“I was not going to let the cancer beat me.”

The first piece of news was ominous: Doug Russell had stage 4 melanoma.

The second was worse: The cancer had spread to his lungs.

“Like everyone who is first diagnosed, I was devastated,” says the building supply company executive from Duluth, Ga. “But I quickly learned that you’ve got to move past the negative feelings and get into the ready-to-fight stage.”

At first, the fight didn’t go so well; standard treatments yielded poor results.

So Doug’s physician, Dr. David Lawson at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, recommended an aggressive series of Interleukin-2 treatments – a therapy that was only available through a clinical trial.

“I wasn’t very familiar with clinical trials,” Doug said, “but I wanted to do anything I could to get better. Plus, having the opportunity to help other people was a strong incentive. I knew that my participation meant I might help save other lives.”

Five years after his first diagnosis, Doug was cancer free. He credits the IL-2 treatments from the clinical trial for his recovery as well as his keeping a positive outlook throughout therapy.

“I didn’t want to know what the side effects might be because I didn’t want to focus on them,” he says. “I went into every protocol just knowing that it would work.”

Back to Survivors' Voices