U.S. Military Veteran Battles Lymphoma with CAR T-cell Therapy: Marcus’ Story

Stories@Gilead - November 11, 2022

Marcus arrived home to Mississippi from his military assignment overseas, excited to see his 20-month-old son, when he realized something was wrong.

“I started noticing that I had a little growth right here on my neck. About two weeks later, I had a growth in my left groin area, the size of a softball,” recalls Marcus. “I was like, this isn't right. I’m 36 years old, and I had never been sick in my life.”

It was cancer – a type of blood cancer known as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

After receiving his diagnosis, Marcus was driven to beat it. “There's no way I'm going to let this disease get the best of me and not be here to raise my son and see him grow up.”

But his journey wasn’t easy. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Marcus’ cancer went into remission, but it was short-lived. Marcus noticed a numbing sensation on the side of his face. His lymphoma had relapsed and returned as a tumor on his trigeminal nerve.

“The second time it hit me a lot harder. I wasn't expecting it to come back,” says Marcus.

His doctor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center referred him to an hematologist-oncologist at University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he received CAR T-cell therapy.

“He had a very aggressive presentation of lymphoma. Being able to offer CAR T-cell therapy was a welcome opportunity for him,” says Dr. Aaron Rapoport, the cancer center’s Director of Transplant and Cellular Therapy.

The first PET CT scan showed a dramatic response to the treatment. 

“I'm forever grateful,” says Marcus. “I spend every moment that I can with my son because life is precious. Tomorrow is not promised. I have one son. He's going to get all of me.”

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