Healthy, fit and busy with a career in electrical engineering and family activities including upcoming weddings for two of his three daughters, Edward Matik initially ignored a changing mole on his forearm.
When he eventually had the mole removed, he was diagnosed with melanoma and referred to Bruce E. Brockstein, MD, head of the Division of Hematology Oncology at NorthShore and an expert in the treatment of melanoma. That was five years ago. Soon after his surgery, Matik began a year of grueling treatment with Interferon, but shortly thereafter his cancer spread to his scalp.
Matik underwent Mohs surgery with Gregg Menaker, MD, and radiation with Ranjeev Nanda, MD. A year later, the tumor recurred in his neck and he had more surgery with Steven Charous, MD, and further radiation. Then the tumor on his scalp recurred, along with additional tumors on his back and behind his ear, and the scalp tumor quickly grew to the size of a fist. He was treated with additional radiation and the then newly approved drug Ipilimumab. Slowly, over the course of a year, the tumor shrank away.
“He is in complete remission,” said Dr. Brockstein.
Indeed Matik, 63, feels strong and has continued to work throughout all of his treatment and to enjoy his family, which now includes five grandchildren. Among the many courses of treatment Matik received were two-and-a-half rounds of Interleukin-2 therapy, delivered in the Intensive Care Unit at Evanston Hospital, one of the few institutions in the region offering this advanced therapy. He also was one of the first Kellogg patients to receive Ipilimumab, following its FDA approval. The combination of radiation and the new medication worked to dramatically shrink the large, black tumor on the back of his head.
“Dr. Brockstein started me on Ipilimumab right away. He is great, and I am glad he’s been able to take care of me and continue to monitor my condition,” Matik said, noting that he follows the latest research on melanoma treatment and is in frequent contact with Dr. Brockstein, often taking advantage of electronic messaging through NorthShoreConnect—our secure, online tool to manage healthcare.
Both Matik and his wife were quick to praise melanoma nurse navigator Jade Distajo, RN, who works with patients, offering assistance on everything from medication and possible side effects to streamlining appointments for procedures. “After this many years it almost feels like a family relationship,” said Janet Matik, who has been a constant support for her husband. “My wife is very positive and totally supportive and I am very grateful for that,” said Matik, who also has remained upbeat through treatment. “I just try not to let it take over my life,” Matik said “I know the care here is really good, and the people are helpful and compassionate.”
While Matik’s recent PET scan confirmed that he is in remission, he is pleased that there are more medications in the pipeline, and that Kellogg’s active research program will make them available in the future.