These days, Peter Grantz has one thing on his mind: walking his daughter down the aisle in September, something he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do after a cancer recurrence in 2021.
But now, Grantz is hopeful he will be there to give her away.
“I think everything is going to be fine,” said Grantz, 65, of Bloomfield Hills. “We have a couple months to pick out the song for our daddy-daughter dance. She’s going to make the most beautiful bride.”
Originally diagnosed in 2016 with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or blood cancer, Grantz received chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
“But unfortunately, he recurred in 2021, which is a lot later of a recurrence than you typically expect,” Matthew Cotant, M.D., a hematologist and oncologist at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, said.
“Usually, if someone has a recurrence, it happens within two years, so that was super disappointing.”
Grantz then had a stem cell transplant, but his lymphoma progressed, leaving him with just one more thing to try: Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy.
What is CAR-T therapy
It harnesses the patient’s immune system in the fight against cancer by training the patient’s T-cells – white blood cells that protect the body from infection or disease – to recognize, attack and destroy the cancer cells.
“It’s like you trained an army to go after this lymphoma,” Dr. Cotant said.
“It’s incredible. Years ago, we wouldn’t have any good treatment options for a patient after having an autologous (stem cell) transplant, and now, we’re talking about a 40% cure rate.”
During this customized cancer treatment, the patient’s T-cells are removed through a process called apheresis.
Using IVs, their blood passes through a machine that separates out white blood cells and returns the remaining components to the patient.
The millions of T-cells are then genetically modified by adding a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR), which arms the cells with a GPS-like ability to find cancer cells.
The T-cells are then infused back into the body, ready to recognize, target and destroy cancer cells.
“All I want for Christmas is CAR-T Therapy”
On Dec. 19, 2022, Grantz said he received the best Christmas gift of all: CAR-T therapy. Grantz was the first patient to receive CAR-T therapy at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.
“It’s a little bit anticlimactic because the actual infusion takes about five minutes,” Grantz said.
But those five minutes changed the course of his life.
“Without CAR-T therapy, we don’t know where Peter would be today,” Ishmael Jaiyesimi, M.D, the Cellular Therapies Clinical Program director, said. “But now, he is in remission and should be able to enjoy his daughter’s wedding.”
‘Grateful’ for logistics
Grantz said he’s grateful he was able to get the treatment so close to home because it made it easier for his wife and kids to be by his side.
“Having CAR-T therapy at Corewell Health in southeast Michigan helps support our mission of providing continuity of care and brings another hope, another possibility, for patients like Peter,” Dr. Jaiyesimi said. “To relieve suffering, extend life and bring a smile to somebody’s face is the greatest feeling.”
For more information about CAR-T therapy, visit beaumont.org/services/
Thanks to Corewell Health Communications Professional Amanda Klingbail for contributing this article to SocialHouseNews.com.