Survivor Stories
February 6, 2024 • 2 Min

I Wanted Immunotherapy!

Daniel Miller

pancreatic cancer patient Daniel Miller
  • Stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma found after stomach bloating and other digestive problems
  • Genetic testing
  • Treatment with immunotherapy

In early January 2023 I began experiencing some unusual symptoms.

I started having things like stomach bloating, mild pain in my abdomen, and hunger pains. I was losing weight and I always felt weak. That’s when I ended up in the emergency room.

Testing and Diagnosis

I must have taken every test under the sun. First I had a CT scan, which showed swollen lymph nodes around my aorta and stomach. That led the doctors to schedule me for more tests, including an MRI, PET scan, biopsy of my lymph nodes, a colonoscopy, and an endoscopy. 

After all those tests, I ultimately was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma.


I did some research about pancreatic cancer and from the very beginning I knew I didn’t want chemotherapy—I wanted immunotherapy! My oncologist, Dr. Praveen Vashist at Pardee Cancer Center Hematology and Medical Oncology, part of UNC Health,  in Hendersonville, North Carolina, did genetic testing and said that I could, based on my markers.

I have had psoriatic arthritis for many years and am on biologics. But, if I went on immunotherapy I could not continue on the biologics. So Dr. Vashist talked with my rheumatologist, who said “Most important things first,” and stopped my biologics!!

Dr. Vashist prescribed pembrolizumab (Keytruda) infusion at three-week intervals. It is given by infusion into a vein. I had a port put into the right side of my chest and started treatment. Overall, the side effects of my treatment have been minimal. I had a rash, some itching on my skin, and loose stools every now and then.

I have to take ZENPEP pancreatic enzyme capsules after meals to help my digestive system work better.

Life Now

I had my 17th infusion at the end of January, along with a CT scan and blood tests. The scan shows that everything is getting smaller, and my CA 19-9 number has dropped from over 2,000 when I was diagnosed to a number in the normal range. I am grateful that my treatment worked so well for me and that I ended up with a positive outcome.

My biggest problem is managing the psoriatic arthritis without the biologics, but we are working on that.

I am Dr. Vashist’s first pancreatic cancer patient able to take the immunotherapy Keytruda!! Immunotherapy is what I wanted and it has worked for me! We are all pleased how well it’s working and I’m praying it keeps on working!!!!

What new treatments and clinical trials are available to me?

Learn more