(WMAR) - Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. That's according to the American Cancer Society.
New advances in treatment are helping more and more people survive the disease.
Three years ago, Natalie Kelly of Baltimore received news that would forever change her life.
“By the time I found out, I kind of already knew in my head that I definitely had cancer," said Kelly. "It was stage 4 lung cancer".
The news only got worse from there. Kelly was not only diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer but was given only 18 months to live.
“I don’t think I ever really did process it," said Kelly. "You just kind of say well I’ll just do what I have to do when I have to do it and hope for the best.”
Hoping for the best while the odds were stacked against her. Doctors put Kelly on standard chemotherapy. After that didn't seem to work, she turned to a clinical trial for immunotherapy.
“Any time there’s the opportunity for a trial I would say go for it," said Dr. Suman Rao with MedStar Franklin Square.
Doctor Suman Rao works at MedStar Franklin Square. She says immunotherapy has shown great promise in patients with lung cancer. The new treatment enhances the body's fight against the disease.
“The immune system gets fooled and thinks that this is normal tissue because cancers are hiding behind this protein," said Rao. "When you use immunotherapy, it takes away the camouflage and it allows cancer to become more visible to the system so the immune system can attack it.”
So continued Kelly's fight with the help of a new clinical trial. Although she was initially given only 18 months to live, after two years of treatment, Kelly can now say she is cancer free
“With the treatment and everything and the way things were going I don’t think I would have made it through the first year if I hadn’t had an alternative," said Kelly. "I’m still here, it’s three years later.”