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Mike Diers: Fighting Cancer with the Power of Perspective

Mike Diers

“A lot of people look at cancer as if they’re walking in a dark tunnel toward a pinprick of light,” said Mike. “It’s better to reverse that and enjoy the present and all the light that’s around you right now.”

Mike Diers
Lung Cancer

For Mike Diers, 54, perception is reality. Worrying about things outside his control is not his way. “At a certain point for me, I turn to God and say, ‘It’s up to you,” Mike says. His logical nature blends with his faith in a higher power – a balance that would be crucial as he faced down cancer.

Fending Off ‘Doom and Gloom’

It was Thanksgiving 2016 in Kyle, Texas, and Mike couldn’t shake a lingering cough. By January 2017, he gave in and visited a doctor – but a steroid pack and a few prescriptions later, the cough still lingered.

Mike saw a pulmonary specialist, who told him he had a blockage on his right lung. He then saw a different doctor, who conducted two exploratory surgeries to remove the blockage and determined that it was stage II lung cancer.

“It was a very ‘doom and gloom’ conversation,” said Mike.

When Mike matter-of-factly told his family, they weren’t new to the cancer conversation. Just a year earlier, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

A Positive Force

Following exploratory surgery, Mike was referred to James Uyeki, M.D., Texas Oncology–South Austin. Dr. Uyeki recommended a clinical trial with a course of checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy to engage Mike’s immune system to attack his cancer prior to surgery.

“At surgery there was no surviving tumor in the lung and only a small amount of tumor in one lymph node,” said Dr. Uyeki. “Mike had a clear understanding of the high risk of even an early-stage lung cancer and gave thoughtful consideration in trying something that had potential to improve his outcome.”

“Dr. Uyeki was upbeat and took the time to explain things to make sure I was on board – ‘this is where we’re at and this is what to expect,’” said Mike. “It was an encouraging way to look at things while I was going through all of this.”

In October 2017, Mike underwent surgery to remove two lobes from his lung. Because he had cancer in one of his lymph nodes, he received standard of care chemotherapy.

Protecting The Present

Four years on, Mike has been back to normal for quite some time.

“Mike has no evidence of recurrence nor any negative effects from his treatment,” added Dr. Uyeki. “People like Mike are helping develop new treatments for cancer right here in Austin. Immunotherapy has transformed how we approach advanced lung cancer, and he is an example of how using immunotherapy in early-stage lung cancer has the potential to change the outcome for patients facing our deadliest cancer.”

In October 2021, Mike celebrated his mother’s milestone of five years breast cancer-free by dyeing his hair neon pink. He recognizes that despite all that’s going on, what’s in front of him and in the present are where he should focus.

“A lot of people look at cancer as if they’re walking in a dark tunnel toward a pinprick of light,” said Mike. “It’s better to reverse that and enjoy the present and all the light that’s around you right now.”

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.