Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor: A CAR-T cell clinical trial gave me my life back

Before I was on a clinical trial, I felt sorry for patients participating in them. I considered clinical trials a last-ditch effort, and felt they marked a really low point in someone’s life. So, when I was faced with the possibility of being on one myself, my reaction wasn’t at all what I expected. I felt grateful just to have another option — a really viable one that my doctors were excited about. And for the first time in a long time, I actually felt hopeful. The long road that led me to MD Anderson By the time I got to MD Anderson, I had already been through the wringer. I’d had my spleen removed, received every drug known to increase platelet counts, and spent 43 days in a local hospital before I finally received the correct diagnosis — diffuse, large B-cell lymphoma (a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) — in August 2013. My treatment in Kansas City included six courses of “R-CHOP” chemotherapy. They appeared to work at first. But seven months later, scans revealed that the cancer had either returned or never really been gone to begin with. I started preparing for an autologous stem cell transplant, in which my own cells would be used to rescue my immune system after high-dose chemotherapy. But when the high-dose chemo failed, I had to consider the next-best option: an allogenic stem cell transplant, which uses stem cells from a donor. My husband and I weren’t ready to face the additional risks and side effects that come with an allogeneic transplant, so we sought a second opinion at MD Anderson. Even...