For Media

Who:   High school sweethearts Keith & Mikaela Knapp got married after graduating from college in 2011. 2 years later, Mikaela was diagnosed with Stage IV kidney cancer.

What:   Since Mikaela’s diagnosis in October 2013, she has exhausted every FDA-approved treatment option available for her type of cancer. Now, with the cancer unchallenged and therefore spreading  every day, the couple has been urgently seeking clinical trial options in the hopes of protecting their future together. Frustrated after numerous rejections from clinical trials, Keith put a petition up on asking for support to get Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, or Genentech to allow compassionate use of their respective anti-PD-1/L1 immunotherapies: novalumab, lambrolizumab, and MPDL3280A.* With help from friends on a social media push, the petition was a hit – reaching almost 50,000 signatures within the first week.

*For information on anti-PD-1 immunotherapy — the breakthrough treatment that Mikaela is seeking — see this New York Times article.

Why:    The goal for the petition is simple: start treating Mikaela with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy from either Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, or Genentech before time runs out.

How:  There are 2 ways for Mikaela to receive the treatment she needs: clinical trials and compassionate use.

The couple have been pursuing clinical trials for over a month, to no avail. They continue to do so, but the continued rejections due to Mikaela’s rare cancer subtype, brain metastases, history of pneumonia, and need for systemic steroid therapy prompted the couple to pursue the compassionate use route as well.

Under the FDA’s laws, compassionate use is for patients with life-threatening illnesses who cannot access the breakthrough treatments they need via clinical trials. This process requires that the patient have an oncologist willing to oversee the treatment and a pharmaceutical company willing to provide the drug. Keith & Mikaela have already identified a local oncologist who is willing to oversee the course of treatment; also, Keith is working with a non-profit experienced in navigating the FDA approval process, and they tell him that he can expect FDA approval within a week of submitting an application. The only thing they need to submit that application is for either BMS, Merck, or Genentech to agree to provide the drug.


Petition (hosted at


Facebook Group
Photos (additional available upon request)
#WeGotThis Community Video


News 10 Sacramento (3/21/14)
VentureBeat (3/23/14)
BusinessInsider (3/23/14)
PandoDaily (3/24/14)
CBS 13 Sacramento (3/24/14)
ABC 11 Raleigh-Durham (3/25/14)
Mediabistro (3/25/14)
SFGate (3/25/14) (3/26/14)
Forbes (3/26/14)
Daily Mail (3/27/14)
Good Morning America (3/27/14) (3/27/14)
Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (3/31/14)
Peter Schiff Show (3/31/14)
ABC News WRIC Richmond (4/2/14)
Brian Oxman Show (4/2/14)
National Review (4/3/14)
CNN (4/6/14)
Al Jazeera’s The Stream (4/7/14)
News 10 Sacramento (4/7/14)


Keith Knapp
(916) 673-8274


9 thoughts on “For Media

  1. Shea says:

    I sent this to a couple of news casters via Twitter where I live. Is that the best way to help? I’ll keep an eye on other emails sent out in case there is something else I can do. Praying for you guys.

    • keithknapp says:

      Reach out to Karen Blondell, a former PR colleague of Mikaela’s. She said she’ll help point you in the right direction.

      Here’s her contact info:
      Karen Blondell


      • Shea says:

        Hi Keith and Mikaela! Thank you for Karen’s contact information. I just sent her an email!

      • Shea says:

        P.S. I would have sent it out sooner but I don’t think I got an email pushed to me saying that I had a reply. Oh – I didn’t click the box for follow-up comments! I’ll do that this time. 🙂

  2. Yih Liang says:

    I’d like to help, but I’m at a loss on how to get this to my local media sources, and I’m very short on personal time. What are some good suggestions?

  3. Caroline Davenport says:

    Thinking of you both and holding you in my prayers.

  4. Debbie Wilson says:

    I’m rooting for you and asking my friends to join me. I am a kidney transplant recipient, almost 7 years ago now, and it was the best moment in my life (besides the birth of my daughter). I think with all the people who have signed your petition, we might get Big Pharma to cooperate. good luck, I’ll be following your situation. Debbie

  5. Lisa Holbert says:


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