Mom Celebrates Sons’ Milestones: Julie’s CAR T-cell Therapy Journey

Stories@Gilead - April 07, 2022

Julie and her husband Bob were enjoying being empty nesters and getting ready to head on a beach vacation when Julie started feeling sick. A few weeks before the trip, Julie’s symptoms – a dry cough and shortness of breath – got worse, so she went to an urgent care center near their home in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania.

“I was initially diagnosed with walking pneumonia and went on the trip,” says Julie. “But when we got back, I knew something was going on longer than it should.”

After seeing her primary care physician, Julie underwent a CT scan. Shortly thereafter, in the summer of 2018, Julie was diagnosed with advanced stage large B-cell lymphoma, the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Each person’s treatment journey is different. In Julie’s case, she went through six months of chemotherapy, then just six months later, her cancer came back. Dr. Alison Sehgal, Julie’s hematologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Hillman Cancer Center, said she needed another treatment quickly.

“Julie had an aggressive disease,” says Alison. “It came back early from her initial chemotherapy and those are the people for whom stem cell transplant is not ideal.”

Julie received chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy in June 2019, and she hasn’t required any additional cancer treatment since.

Last year, Julie’s two son’s celebrated life milestones – one went off to college and the other got married.

“I put the wedding up there as one of the best days of my life,” says Julie. “You want to share in the important parts of your kids’ lives, and now I'm able to help them with anything. That is truly a blessing.”

Watch the video above to see Julie’s full story.

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