An Ohio woman claims she is now cancer free following a clinical trial.
Denise Keenan, from Youngstown, was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2009 and has been battling the illness ever since, she told Fox 8.
The 66-year-old, who has gone through periods of remission since her initial diagnosis, told the news station she had “started getting used to the idea of not being here anymore".
This was especially true after she learned cancer had spread to her lungs and chest.
“She's convinced me probably a hundred times over the years that she was a goner,” her husband, Jim, added.
But that’s recently changed, as Keenan recently underwent CAR T-cell therapy through a clinical trial at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, she said.
CAR T-cell therapy, according to the National Cancer Institute, is a “type of treatment in which a patient's T cells (a type of immune system cell) are changed in the laboratory so they will attack cancer cells. T cells are taken from a patient’s blood. Then the gene for a special receptor that binds to a certain protein on the patient’s cancer cells is added in the laboratory. The special receptor is called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)."
“Large numbers of the CAR T cells are grown in the laboratory and given to the patient by infusion,” it added.
“We collect the patient's cells. They get modified with a particular virus that introduces the genetic modification over 12 to 14 days,” Paolo Caimi, a hematology and oncology specialist at University Hospitals, explained.
Keenan said she underwent the trial in July and was cancer free a month later, in August.
It’s not clear if Keenan will remain cancer free, as long-term data regarding the clinical trial is not yet available. But for now, Keenan, who recently celebrated her 35th wedding anniversary with Jim, plans to make the most of each day.
"The future is unknown so just enjoy the moment. I think you're a lot happier if you can do that."