Stage 4 Kidney Cancer Survivor: Scott’s Story

A doctor gave Scott 10 months to live—over 8 years ago

“My wife, Brenda, is my rock. If I even thought about giving up, she wouldn’t hear of it,” Scott Bloomgren said with a chuckle. Saby George, MD, FACP, Associate Professor of Oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, wasn’t about to let Scott give up either.

Scott was first diagnosed with kidney cancer in January of 2011 at a doctor’s office in his hometown of Bradford, PA. After several months of getting in shape and losing weight, the pounds just kept coming off. His normal 210-pound build was down to 160 pounds. He knew something was wrong. “I kept demanding answers, and finally, after a PET scan, they found cancer in my kidney.”

Kidney cancer kills about 14,000 people every year. It is especially deadly when it is found in the late stages. By January 31, 2011, Scott was in the hospital having his kidney removed. At his 1-month follow-up appointment from surgery, he got the news they had found tumors in his lungs — that meant his cancer was at stage 4. He said, “When I heard it had spread, I knew it was time to go to the experts at Roswell Park.” When Scott arrived, he knew he was someplace special. “As soon as I walked in the door, I knew the care was going to be different. Everyone there is fighting the same fight, and the doctors are focused on one thing — curing cancer.”

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Scott’s renal cancer had now spread to both lungs, and after 3 months of being treated with the standard therapy of sunitinib, his lung tumors continued to grow. Dr. George let Scott know it wasn’t time to give up. He entered Scott into a clinical trial using an immunotherapy drug called BMS-936558 (which was later named nivolumab or Opdivo®). Dr. George was one of the researchers leading the nationwide clinical trial for this novel therapy. The drug helps your immune system fight cancer. Within 6 weeks of starting the drug, Scott’s tumors had begun to shrink — and they continued to shrink. Today, his tumors are more than 99% smaller than the size they were in 2011. Today, Opdivo is FDA-approved, but researchers are still studying the long-term outcomes, like Scott’s, to improve cancer treatment.

In February 2018, he celebrated a milestone with his 100th infusion. “I know I am getting a level of care that isn’t available everywhere,” Scott said. “I have the confidence in everyone at Roswell. They are positive and hopeful, and they are fighting with me.”

Scott wrapped up his clinical trial but required surgery in early 2019 after it was found that a tumor was progressing towards his inferior vena cava. He has recovered and still comes to Roswell Park every two weeks as part of a new clinical research study.

Scott is leading a happy, healthy life. He remains active, enjoying his bike rides and is a regular at The Ride for Roswell. His bike rides are constant reminders that he’ll never give up and he’ll fight cancer every day, just as he did more than 8 years ago.

Editor’s Note: Cancer patient outcomes and experiences may vary, even for those with the same type of cancer. An individual patient’s story should not be used as a prediction of how another patient will respond to treatment. Roswell Park is transparent about the survival rates of our patients as compared to national standards, and provides this information, when available, within the cancer type sections of this website.