Shawnee Woman Among First in the World to Undergo New FDA-Approved Cancer Therapy

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Jill Chadwick

News Director

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Four years ago, Emily Dumler, a Shawnee mother of three, looked like the picture of health. But one day during lunchtime with her kids, something didn’t feel right. She called her husband to come home from work so she could go to urgent care. Doctors there sent her to the hospital, and 43 days later, they discovered she had a blood cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

            Emily underwent chemotherapy, which seemed to rid her of the cancer. But it came back. Next, a stem cell transplant using her own stem cells took place. Unfortunately, that failed as well. At that point, she was about out of options until she found out about and got the last spot in a clinical trial for an experimental treatment called CAR T-cell therapy. It involves removing a patient’s T cells, genetically engineering them to recognize and attack the cancer, and putting them back into the patient’s body. Emily was just the third person in the world to undergo this treatment. One month after the treatment, scans showed she was cancer free.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the gene therapy, named Yescarta, to treat adults with large B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who have failed to respond to other treatments. The University of Kansas Cancer Center is one of the few facilities to offer this CAR-T therapy.

            In the raw, unedited video, Emily tells her amazing story. Photos of her family are also included.

            Also in the video is Dr. Joseph McGuirk, medical director of blood and marrow transplantation at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, who oversaw the clinical trial there. He explains how it works, and says how excited he is to be a part of the extraordinary future that’s coming down the line in cancer medicine.

            The video also contains b-roll of the CAR-t therapy.