Today, I’m cancer free and passionate about spreading hope and advocating for others. My family and I truly believe that immunotherapy helped to eradicate my cancer and is the reason why I am still in remission and here today!
I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) precursor B cells in August 2010, at the age of 36, after biopsy results came in from the removal of a head cyst found on the top right side of my head. It was a total shock to my family and me as I had no other physical symptoms. After a few days of being overwhelmed, I took action to unload my life, take leave from work, educate myself and fight my cancer. That was the beginning of my two-year journey of inpatient, intense chemotherapy that ultimately failed to keep me in remission.
By February of 2014 the cancer was back and I decided that I was going to ‘choose hope.’ With the support of my mom and my partner, Benny, I began seeking clinical trial options. At the recommendation of my doctor, I enrolled in phase one clinical trial of chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) therapy, a technique in which my immune cells were extracted, altered and then re-infused into my bloodstream so that my own immune system could fight the cancer. I was one of the first patients to receive this therapy in an outpatient setting and was among the 93% of patients in my trial that achieved remission.
I am so very grateful to my amazing medical team from Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Medical Center, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that worked together in collaboration to help me fight my cancer. I truly believe immunotherapy is changing the cancer treatment landscape and I am excited for the future as they continue to advance its use to more types of cancer & continue to learn more. It's an amazing medical breakthrough and I believe it's our future in our fight against cancer!