“I thought of those T cells as little ninjas going in there and fighting this with me. You know that this is the only hope you have, so you do battle.”
— Chuck Fata
For Chuck Fata, it started in 2015, with back pain. At first, he and his doctor saw the problem as a symptom of a too-busy life. The pain got worse, though, and three months later, tumors showed up on a diagnostic test.
Chuck’s battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma was a tough one. Each time he thought his physicians had helped beat it back — with chemotherapy, then a transplant of blood stem cells, then surgery — the disease returned.
He feared he had run out of options. His doctors had one more idea, though.
Chuck was referred to City of Hope, which is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center. There, he would receive care through a clinical trial, a research study that offers patients access to innovative new treatments.
In this case, the treatment was CAR T cell therapy. It involves modifying cells from a patient’s own immune system so that they’re primed to hunt down tumor cells and then returning the cells to the patient’s body.
That clinical trial saved Chuck’s life. The lymphoma was in complete remission a month after treatment, and remains in remission to this day.