At Age 24, Medical Student Matt Hiznay Was Diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer

He was, in his own words, β€œon [his] way out.” Now, Matt celebrates the fifth anniversary of his diagnosis – a feat only one-percent of stage IV cancer survivors accomplish.

At this year’s Washington Ideas Forum, hosted by The Atlantic, Matt and Pfizer scientist Dr. Ted Johnson shared with PhRMA’s Lori Reilly their unique experiences – as patient and researcher – and the fateful circumstances that brought them together. “I beat the odds,” said Matt. “Ted, thank you for saving my life.”

During the five years preceding Matt’s diagnosis, Ted was developing the treatment that would save his life. Not unlike many researchers, Ted had lost a loved one – his mother – to the disease. “Battling cancer remains very personal to me,” he said. “I lost my mother to cancer. At that time, the treatments just weren’t as effective. So, I’ve been working in research since then because I really want to help patients. The work I do can save lives.”

Because of stories like Matt and Ted’s, patients today have room for optimism as breakthrough science and personalized therapies are transforming treatment options.

Today, 74 percent of medicines in the biopharmaceutical pipeline are potentially first in class, including 79 percent of those in development for cancer. Data further shows that biopharmaceutical companies nearly doubled their research and development investment in personalized medicines over the past five years and expect to increase their investment by an additional third in the next five years.

“It’s one thing to treat someone’s cancer, but another to hear that their quality of life was so good,” said Ted. “To have both those things together…is fantastic.”

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