Leukemia Patient Cured Thanks to Customized Immunotherapy

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Jill Chadwick

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              Heloise (pronounced Heh-lois) Gray was having a bad day. For some reason, she was not able to keep food down, she was coughing a lot, and was so weak it took her an hour to get dressed…something she usually accomplished in minutes. Her daughter took her to the emergency department, where she was diagnosed with leukemia. Her doctors at The University of Kansas Cancer Center thought she was a perfect candidate for a clinical trial of a medicine that uses a patient’s own immune system to fight the blood cancer. The drug, called BLINCYTO, was once considered a last-ditch treatment, but seemed to work so well, doctors decided to try using it first. They used that strategy with Heloise as part of the trial, and it worked so well, she’s now in complete remission, and looking forward to resuming her active life.

            In the video, Dr. Joseph McGuirk, medical director of blood and marrow transplantation at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, describes Heloise’s condition, and explains that only about 30 percent of adults usually survive that type of cancer. He tells how immunotherapy works, and calls the treatment a remarkable breakthrough. Also, Heloise Gray talks about her journey from near death to complete remission. The video also contains b-roll of Heloise and Dr. McGuirk during her latest clinic visit.