A grandmother of four in Maryland has recently become the first cancer patient to complete the experimental CAR-T cell procedure at Georgetown University Hospital. Daisy Diggs 67, who was diagnosed in 2015 with stage three non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is now in remission after this new experimental treatment.
Diggs had several tumors initially, and underwent chemotherapy from 2015-2017 with no success.
She says, “the chemotherapy was hard.” Diggs was always unwell and feeling terrible; but it was this extreme discomfort that encouraged her to volunteer for the experimental CAR-T cell trail at Georgetown University in 2018.
CAR-T cell therapy essentially uses a patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer. There are serious potential risks to the treatment however including serious drops in a patient’s blood pressure, fever, and even neurological issues or death as the body works to adjust to the huge changes in a person’s immune system during therapy.
CAR-T cell therapy involves creating CAR-T cells in a lab using part of the patient’s white blood cells. These white blood cells become “supercharged” so to speak, and then are put into the patient’s body where they are genetically altered to recognize a tumor’s antigens, target them, and destroy them.
In three short months of being on the CAR-T cell therapy, Daisy Digg’s tumors had disappeared.
In her recent six-month checkup, Dr. Munshi, the associate clinical director, told her that she has made history.
Daisy Diggs maintains a positive outlook and zeal for life, stating that she is just happy to have more time to enjoy her grandchildren.
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