A CAR T-cell therapy clinical trial saved my wife’s life

I am a numbers person. So, when my wife, Emily, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August 2013, I turned to the internet for some statistics. I quickly discovered that online research is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I could educate myself about my wife’s disease. I learned about things like CD19, a biomarker that can factor into the development of lymphoma. But I also saw one word used over and over again in reference to outcomes for people with the same diagnosis as hers: “dismal.” That was devastating. At the time, Emily was only 32. We had three young children. Fortunately, we learned about a CAR T-cell therapy clinical trial at MD Anderson that ultimately saved her life. Why we turned to MD Anderson Emily and I actually felt very good about the care she was receiving for her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma near our home in Kansas City. But when Plan A failed — and we realized that the path forward (an allogeneic stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor) could change our lives forever — we decided to seek a second opinion. That’s when we turned to MD Anderson. It’s a giant hospital, but the sheer expertise of its physicians makes you want to go there. And all its doctors do is cancer, so they are the best in their fields. Accessible doctors make the difference On our first day at MD Anderson, we met with lymphoma specialist Dr. Frederick Hagemeister and stem cell transplant specialist Dr. Yago Nieto. We were also able to meet with Dr. Sattva Neelapu — the researcher whose CAR T-cell therapy...