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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.”

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Georgia CORE


Advancing Cancer Care through Partnerships and Innovation

Georgia CORE is a statewide nonprofit that leverages partnerships and innovation to attract more clinical trials, increase research, and promote education and early detection to improve cancer care for Georgians in rural, urban, and suburban communities across the state.