At the Cancer Conference

Note: Among other things, this longish post addresses the anxiety of knowing something’s very wrong with a key part of your body after you thought it had been fixed; the state of kidney cancer treatment now and in the future, the cost conundrum; and the psychological toll that having advanced stage cancer takes on us and our families.

The setting is the 2016 Kidney Cancer Symposium,  co-sponsored by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute, and Harvard Medical School. Think of this as a bonus chapter to Immunopatient. Who knows, there may be more. Thanks for reading. As always, I welcome your comments.

I walked slowly to mask my slight hobble into the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Newton, a suburb of Boston.  I found my event – The 9th Annual Kidney Cancer Symposium – listed on a flat panel television screen next to the reception counter.  The medium-sized room turned out to be in a far corner of the hotel’s sprawling first floor. Down one long carpeted hallway after another, I tried to focus on maintaining a stride with good form.

Continue reading At the Cancer Conference

Dana Farber Excerpts Immunopatient

The Dana Farber blog recently excerpted Immunopatient. You can read much longer excerpts here, but the blog didn’t have that much space! Still, I was honored the nation’s leading cancer research institute saw fit to highlight my book. Their excerpt appears below and here’s the original link to the blog post.

Immunopatient: One Patient’s Story of Cancer and Immunotherapy

It’s not uncommon for cancer patients to take to a pen after a diagnosis. Peter Rooney’s taken that to another level. Rooney, a former journalist and author of the book Die Free, captured his cancer journey in the new book Immunopatient: The New Frontier of Curing Cancer. The following excerpt is reprinted with permission from Immunopatient by Peter Rooney (Hatherleigh Press, 2017). Available at, wherever books are sold, and at

Continue reading Dana Farber Excerpts Immunopatient

One man’s journey into the abyss of cancer

It’s not a book anyone would choose to write, a book speckled with medical jargon and terms like nephrectomy, Interleukin-2, Nivo and ipi. The powder-blue cover jacket ominously highlights an intravenous needle drip.

Peter Rooney

But it’s not a medical book. It’s personal and moving.

Peter Rooney of Keene is a wordsmith, a journalist and an author. He was director of public affairs at Amherst College when his life changed forever one morning in February 2011. His car slid on some ice entering a roundabout in Keene on his way to work. He jerked the steering wheel, pain unexpectedly screaming through his upper left arm.

Continue reading One man’s journey into the abyss of cancer

Keene man finds hope in emerging cancer treatments

Manchester Union Leader Correspondent

Peter Rooney of Keene has turned his journey with stage 4 kidney cancer into the medical memoir “Immunopatient: The New Frontier of Curing Cancer.” (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

KEENE — A Keene man has turned his journey with stage 4 kidney cancer into the medical memoir, “Immunopatient: The New Frontier of Curing Cancer.”
Continue reading Keene man finds hope in emerging cancer treatments

Immunopatient on the Air: Radio Interview about Cancer, Life, Immunotherapy, Lessons Learned

John McGauley is a talented writer, newspaper columnist and now, radio host on WKBK in New Hampshire. I was honored to be his debut guest to discuss my new book,  Immunopatient. I’ve been working on it for several years, and  Hatherleigh Press is publishing it this fall. You can order it here.



Immunotherapy researcher Gordon Freeman takes stock

It had been almost a year since I had last visited pioneering cancer researcher Gordon Freeman in his office at Dana-Farber. On this blustery fall day I was using a cane, hoping that the reason for my limp and sore thigh was tendon and tissue strain, not new cancer or complications from treatment, recent surgery, and radiation.


Gordon Freeman

The security guard in the lobby printed me a temporary ID card and pointed the way to the staff elevator that would take me to the fifth floor.

“You’ll have to swipe the ID once you get in the elevator,” she said. “Otherwise you won’t be able to get up there.” Continue reading Immunotherapy researcher Gordon Freeman takes stock

1. Rube Goldberg on a Drunken Bender, or How I Hope my Immune System Fights Cancer


Rube on bender

Dr. James Mier called me two days before Thanksgiving to tell me I had two new brain tumors. He delivered the bad news as gently as possible — the tumors were extremely small, they could easily be zapped with high dose radiation, and if all went well, I’d be cancer free once again.

But still, two new brain tumors? I felt I had made so much progress fighting cancer over the last four years, but once again reality was intruding on my plans for healing. I did the best I could to take him at his word, but a question kept nagging at me — does my immune system work in the brain, like it has been in the rest of my body?  Continue reading 1. Rube Goldberg on a Drunken Bender, or How I Hope my Immune System Fights Cancer

2. Slip-Sliding Away 


If you’ve ever found yourself driving with no control of your car, you know that you experience every micro-second in slow motion. That’s exactly what happened to me one cold grey morning in late February of 2011, when I hit a patch of ice entering a roundabout on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, just after a car ahead of me did as well.  Continue reading 2. Slip-Sliding Away 

3. Everything Changes


Downtown Keene, NH

I arrived for my appointment with Dr. Wu the next morning at 10:30 sharp. This time I didn’t have to wait. The receptionist, Renee, ushered me into the examining room and I spent a couple minutes to myself, trying to calm my racing thoughts.

Online, I had discovered that bone lesions were abnormal growths that had embedded themselves into the bone, and often were associated with cancer. A brief rap on the door announced his arrival. Whippet thin and nervous-seeming, Dr. Wu plunged right into the bad news. Continue reading 3. Everything Changes