Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



Jami’s Immunotherapy Story

Lymphoma |  Diagnosed 1994

In my history of cancer treatments, I’ve had to be really persistent to stay in the game. Cancer Research Institute is doing the same thing.

Jami’s Story

CAR T Cell Therapy for Lymphoma: Jami’s Immunotherapy Success Story

La maratón de Jami contra el cáncer

Jami describes her 20+ year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a marathon. Her first cancer diagnosis came in the fall of 1994. Since then Jami has tried many different standard cancer treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, a bilateral mastectomy, eye removal, and even a stem cell transplant. These treatments came between cancer remissions that grew shorter and shorter. Following her most recent lymphoma diagnosis, Jami’s clinical trial navigator asked whether she would consider a clinical trial of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy to treat her lymphoma. This immunotherapy treatment approach was so new that Jami’s local oncologist hadn’t even heard of it yet. Jami wrote to doctors leading CAR T trials all over the country, and then entered a trial at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

How CAR T Cell Therapy for Lymphoma Worked for Jami

CAR T cell therapy is an anti-cancer treatment approach that enhances that natural cancer-fighting abilities of the body’s T cells. To Jami, it almost sounded like a treatment from the future.This treatment allowed her own body to do the healing by providing her cells with a “homing signal” that would help them to correctly identify and fight cancer cells.

First, Jami received three days of chemotherapy to clear out her existing T cells, “rebooting” her immune system and making room for the “super-charged” T cells that had been trained to fight her cancer better. Jami first began to feel the positive effects of treatment just three days after receiving the first dose of her new CAR T cells. Throughout the trial, Jami experienced side effects from her CAR T cell treatment that included fever, achiness, lower blood pressure, and pain in the area of her tumor. This pain indicated that the CAR T cells had found their mark and were fighting the lymphoma. Jami preferred immunotherapy to conventional standard cancer treatments she’s experienced because she felt like “it was working with [her] body, instead of against it.”

Jami and her husband, Ian, left Boston after her first round of successful CAR T cell therapy treatment. However, the next year Jami experienced a relapse. Determined to continue her fight against lymphoma, Jami went back for the second round of CAR T cell treatment. A PET scan revealed that the lymphoma was entirely gone, eradicated by Jami’s re-energized T cells.

Supporting Breakthroughs in Immunotherapy Research

Jami’s immunotherapy treatment has given her and Ian a “new life to start over,” and Jami is looking forward to all that it has in store for her and her family. 

Jami has had to be persistent in her long fight against cancer, and appreciates the efforts of the Cancer Research Institute to do the same in working to make immunotherapy treatment available to everyone

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