11/20/14 – Trip To Penn

Trip to Penn went as expected. No surprises … I still have Cancer. We met with Dr. G and started the pre-testing proceed for the CART-19 trial. More on that later as I am sure everyone is on pins and needles waiting to hear about the femur.

Dr. G is uploading my scans and will have the Orthopedic Oncologist look at them tonight for a second opinion. Even if she determines that surgery with the rod inserted is necessary, it won’t slow us down and we are still on track for this transplant.

If I need surgery it would be sooner rather than later so we don’t interrupt the T-Cell harvest scheduled for 12/8.

The CART-19 trial is a very interesting take on the stem cell transplant. Here is how it works: it is the same process as my first stem cell transplant that I had last January. I am given high dose Chemo (Melphalan) to wipe out my entire cell structure and immunity. The next day I am given back my own stem cells, which are being stored at Hackensack University Medical Center. The difference in this trial is that they are now going to harvest my T Cells as well (on 12/8)

T Cells are simply white blood cells called lymphocytes. Their main function is to fight infection in our bodies. They act to identify and attack and destroy infectious agents. My T Cells don’t work really well (or at all) against Myeloma.

When they harvest my T Cells on 12/8, they will bring them to the lab where they will genetically engineer them them to attack and destroy any cell which carries a particular protein (Myeloma) on its surface. The protein my T Cells are looking for is CD-19.

I am very hopeful and excited about this process. They are having great success with Leukemia patients. As of 10/16/14, 23 of the 30 patients in the Leukemia trial were still alive and 19 of them achieved and are still in a complete remission.

I would be the 5th Myeloma patient to enter. I spoke on the phone with the first one and she is four and one half months in complete remission with no maintenance drugs at all. I was connected to her through Kathy Giusti, the founder of the MMRF, so your generous support of that organization through the #bradstrong Golfs Against Cancer section of the blog or through my nephew Eli’s Bradstrong Chargers events is really working!

Here is a diagram of how this all works for those (like me) into pictures over words:

IMG_0263.JPG

My dad’s favorite step is step seven. Where the T Cells “ATTACH to them (cells displaying the target protein) and KILL them.”

OK, OK … what about the rod? It’s all about the rod, bout the rod, no trouble. All about the rod, bout the rod … (bad pun alert)

No decision on surgery vs. radiation until probably Monday. Surgery seems likely but nothing definite until then I think. As soon as we hear from Dr. G at Penn we will update.

4 responses to “11/20/14 – Trip To Penn

  1. I would love to know why you chose the auto T cell transplant over an allo transplant. My 35 year old daughter is beginning to have to make this decision. Her doctors want her to do an allo with her brother as a possible donor. We are contemplating going to Penn for second opinion. She just finished DCEP treatment which we were told today seems to be knocking the numbers down. Previously she had Velcade, SCT,Revilmid,Kyprolis after relapse in August but it did not work. She has had Myeloma for 3 years.

  2. Good luck. I am a myeloma patient at UPenn and Dr. Stadtmauer is my specialist. This treatment sounds promising and I hope it nukes your myeloma back to the stone age. All the best. Terry from Haddonfield, NJ

  3. That’s amazing. I’m sure it will be tough to go through but then CR. Is this available in general? Or is this just for clinical trial patients. .?
    Best to you with the rid and this amazing transplant.

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