New treatments save life of Troy resident


TROY — Dave Ziegler, 65, of Troy, has been in remission from stage four non-small cell lung cancer since January of 2021 thanks to undergoing a new immunotherapy treatment with Dr. David Carbone at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Ziegler was diagnosed in May of 2017 at 60 years old when doctors at Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) in Troy noted signs of tumors on a scan. The wait for chemotherapy treatments at UVMC was about eight months. He then transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton for treatment until he and his wife found Dr. Carbone at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Ziegler stated that one of the reasons he was searching for a new team and new treatments was because he felt that typical cancer treatment courses were only helping him stay comfortable. He felt that the treatments were not improving his quality of life or helping to extend his life.

“That was not the right place (UVMC). The big thing that I can tell you is that you have to be your biggest, your own advocate with this kind of stuff,” said Ziegler.

The Ziegler’s found Carbone through a Hartzell Propeller coworker of Ziegler’s. Originally, the wait to get an appointment with Carbone was nine months. However, Ziegler’s coworker managed to help him secure an earlier appointment

He began chemotherapy treatment every three weeks at the OSU cancer center with Carbone in November of 2017. Chemotherapy did not seem to have an effect on the tumors. The chemotherapy was done in three sessions with a fourth resting session and scans following each treatment. According to the scans, his cancer had spread to his adrenal glands and at first the chemotherapy had seemed to slow or even stop the growth of the tumors. Sadly, after the fourth session, Ziegler’s scans indicated that the tumors were growing again.

“I pretty much wrote myself off there … I was pretty much in tears, I had written myself off, it’s a really tough thing to deal with. Have you got insurance, what’s your wife going to do, what about your kids,” said Ziegler.

Even though Ziegler had felt defeated, Carbone had one more plan in mind. In January of 2018 Carbone switched treatment courses and Ziegler began Keytruda immunotherapy treatments. The immunotherapy treatments were scheduled for every three weeks. After Ziegler’s first session of Keytruda, the scans did not show much change, but he felt different and his appetite returned. The second session’s scans showed that the tumors had not grown and the third had shown that the tumors had shrunk to about half their original size.

“This place (OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center) is an amazing place compared to Upper Valley. They’re professional, they’re people you can talk to … So what they do is, you come in there and you’re like family. Everybody there is like family in this little area, this is before COVID of course,” said Ziegler.

While the outlook looked good for Ziegler, he had to pause his Keytruda immunotherapy treatments in February of 2019 for a back surgery and was scheduled to resume treatment as soon as possible after the surgery. However, in May of 2019 Ziegler needed emergency surgery for an intestinal ischemic infection cause by a previously diagnosed heart condition.

Even though Ziegler’s cancer treatment was on hold, Carbone still did scans every couple of months to keep track of the tumors and any potential growth. Carbone also visited Ziegler during his recovery from the intestinal surgery to take samples and ensure the issues were not related to the cancer.

Following the two surgeries in 2019, Ziegler returned to Carbone for his final sessions of the immunotherapy treatment. In January of 2020, Carbone decided to stop all treatments as it appeared that the Keytruda treatments had done their job and Ziegler appeared to be in remission. For a year after Carbone stopped treatments Ziegler went for CT scans and other tests every three months. After seeing no changes in the scans for a year, Carbone officially declared Ziegler in remission in January of 2021.

“I can’t give this guy (Carbone) enough credit. He’s an amazing man, he never told me a lie. He told me the truth the whole time,” said Ziegler.

“If I can tell someone, somewhere something that makes their life a little bit easier because of my journey, that means a lot to me. If I would’ve had one person to talk to, that would’ve been real nice. But I didn’t. You have no support system, very little support system in Miami County. Columbus has a fantastic support system … The support system that they have in Columbus is great, I was invited to a banquet of survivors and it was really nice to meet other people that went down this path. That’s what we really need in Miami County right now,” said Ziegler. “If I could get something going there it would mean a lot to me.”

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