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URMC / Wilmot Cancer Institute / News & Events / Dialogue Blog / November 2017 / Military experience shaped one veteran’s approach to life after a kidney cancer diagnosis

Military experience shaped one veteran’s approach to life after a kidney cancer diagnosis

Larry MastrellaAs an infantry sergeant in the first Calvary infantry division during the Vietnam War, Larry Mastrella learned to have a persistent attitude because, as squad leader, he was in charge of protecting the lives of 10 men. He says that same attitude helped him develop a determined outlook for his own life after a stage IV kidney cancer diagnosis six years ago.

“I was in the infantry, which is really the heat of the battle. These men that worked under me, these are the men that you protect, so their lives are in your hands,” says Larry. “Going through this thing that I’m doing now, it relates to not giving up and protecting.”

In 2011, he started experiencing blood in his urine and weakness. He had surgery to remove a kidney and when his cancer returned less than a year later, he started chemotherapy. It brought side effects, but he stayed on it until a few months ago, when he learned it had stopped working. His oncologist, Chunkit Fung, M.D., suggested an immunotherapy drug, nivolumab.

It’s not only kept the kidney cancer in check, but it’s also helped him feel better so he can continue working, golfing and spending time with his sons.

“It feels tremendous because I feel better personally,” he said. “Since the time I started six years ago until today, all these new drugs come out that people are living like me, a normal life. And that’s tremendous to see that.”

Global Administrator | 11/10/2017

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