Diane Lucey Tippett after getting married this past summer. A special cancer treatment at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital gave her a new outlook on life. Photo courtesy of Diane Lucey Tippett

Leonardtown, MD – The journey began with a bump. In 2013, Diane Lucey Tippett, then residing in Savannah, GA noticed a bump in her mouth. She pointed the bump out to her dentist who promptly sent her to an oral surgeon. A biopsy revealed stage one cancer, said Tippett. She had surgery to remove the cancer. The procedure also involved the removal of lymph nodes from her throat. Those proved negative and Tippett then began her cancer treatment.

“I did not do chemo [chemotherapy] but had 30 rounds of radiation after surgery,” Tippett told TheBayNet.com. Her sisters living in Southern Maryland reached out to her and urged her to move to the area so she could receive family support while being treated. Tippet stated her first scan in Maryland—at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore—was clean.

In June 2016 a scan at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital revealed that Tippett’s cancer had returned and was worse than before. “They found a decent-sized liver tumor and tumors on a lung,” she recalled. The liver tumor was biopsied and Tippett was told she had stage four cancer. Medical oncologist Dr. Amir Khan recommended that she see Dr. Louis Weiner at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Lombardi Cancer Center. “I’m very happy I did,” said Tippett.

Dr. Weiner (pictured, right) told TheBayNet.com that the strategy employed to deal with Diane Tippett’s cancer was “unique and distinctive” and indicative of about where medicine is going in terms of treating the deadly disease. “A decade ago we would have picked a treatment regimen and crossed our fingers,” said Weiner. Instead, Tippett was given an experimental immunotherapy drug that used her own immune system to fight the cancer. Weiner indicated the drug was able to breach a blockade the cancer cells had formed at Tippett’s immune system.

Tippet recalled that Dr. Weiner told her about the experimental treatment and said “ ‘I’d like to try this,’ that’s exactly what I wanted to hear. He felt my immune system was trying to push back.”
Weiner stated that Tippett’s health insurance company even agreed to cover the experimental treatment, which began in October 2016.

“It’s an amazing treatment,” said Tippett. “I didn’t lose hair. I didn’t get fatigued. I didn’t lose my appetite but I did lose some weight.” According to Tippett, the treatment worked so well that when she returned to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital for surgery to remove the tumor from her liver it was gone and she was cancer-free.

Tippett, who is 50, still goes to the doctor on a regular basis. “I’m still doing treatment,” she said. This past summer she got married and now she is ready to celebrate Christmas and toast the New Year was a great prognosis. “No medically active tumors, that’s pretty amazing.”

Tippett admits the ordeal has transformed her in a positive way. “You look at life differently,” she said. “I just keep doing what the doctors tell me and I thank God for every day.”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com