Rancho Santa Fe resident helps support Immunotherapy Foundation

John Matty

After watching several friends battle cancer, including some who have died, Rancho Santa Fe resident John Matty got involved with the Immunotherapy Foundation in hopes that its work can lead to better treatment options.

“I just think that they’re on the right track,” said Matty, who owns a jewelry store in Rancho Santa Fe. “I think that somebody’s got to figure some of these things out. A lot of medicine these days is very general.”

The Immunotherapy Foundation, a San Diego nonprofit that supports cancer immunotherapy research and cancer prevention programs, hosted a drive-in movie event called “Drive In to Drive Out Cancer” on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. There was a screening of the Jack Black film “School of Rock.”

At the event, the foundation announced a fundraiser that will match every dollar up to $500,000 to support cancer immunotherapy research, which helps advance cancer treatments that work with the body’s immune system. The deadline to contribute is Oct. 31.

The Immunotherapy Foundation was started by Ralph and Fernanda Whitworth in 2015. The next year, Ralph died from human papillomavirus-related head and neck cancer.

Matty, who has lived in Rancho Santa Fe for about 15 years, said his girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer despite having no family history.

“As we went through all the doctors appointments and the biopsy, and doing all those kinds of things, there were some contradictory things there and it seemed like there was a little manual (that shows) this is what you do each time, and I didn’t believe that that’s really right,” he said, adding that immunotherapy could potentially give more patients a more customized plan to recover.

She’s now recovered after a long road sifting through the pros and cons of radiation, receiving hormones and other treatment options. Matty also said he has friends who have battled cancer, including one with prostate cancer, who experience a frustrating process of wading through the various treatment options.

“Everybody knows somebody who has tried one of those options, and it’s worked,” he said. “And then other guys that don’t try it or try the wrong one, they die. I just think it’s hard to decide. There’s a lot of pressure, and emotionally everyone’s in a bad state, they’re worried, and don’t know which one to try. All those factors together make it seem like an individual diagnosis for each person and an individual treatment is what we should be looking at.”

Matty said he started supporting the Immunotherapy Foundation about two years ago.

“Even though they’re experimenting with all this stuff, it just seemed like something I wanted to get behind a little bit,” he added.

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