Stories: Mike


A miracle for Mike

After allergic reactions to multiple chemotherapy drugs, a failed bone marrow transplant and damage to his lungs and kidneys from experimental drugs, Mike Hunter thought he had only weeks to live.

He’d been battling multiple myeloma since 2015, but as treatment after treatment failed, he’d run out of options. Then in late 2018 he was hospitalized with a tumor pressing on his spine.

Still, Mike didn’t give up. And neither did his care team at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI).

As Mike lay in the hospital, his oncologist, William Bensinger, M.D., heard about a new trial with the potential to help. Within a week, Mike was enrolled and had his first dose of an experimental drug called CC-93269.

Just seven days later Mike and his wife, Sheryl, received the news they hadn’t dared to hope for: Mike was in remission. “It’s amazing to see him go from literally dying in front of me to being able to have a life,” says Sheryl.

For many patients like Mike, clinical trials are the only option after standard treatments fail. Thanks to philanthropic support, they can turn to us for leading-edge care. In fact, for several years now SCI has been a leader in clinical trial participation among health care institutions in the Puget Sound region.

As of January last year, more than 3,000 of our patients were enrolled in 640 trials.

Mike is still recovering from the toll his cancer took on his body, but he’s up to walking a mile at a time after being in a wheelchair. “Regardless of what happens, I’ve had a year and a half of good quality life, and you can’t put a figure on that,” says Mike. “I’m so thankful for all the effort Swedish put in to get me on this trial. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful for every day that I get to live.”