Posts tagged ‘lymphoma’

Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma survivor now wants to ‘give back’

September 1, 2015 | by
Sebastian Sanchez-Luege spent his summer in a City of Hope lab studying T Cells, as part of City of Hope’s Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy.

Sebastian Sanchez-Luege spent his summer in a City of Hope lab studying T cells as part of City of Hope’s Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy.

Sebastian Sanchez-Luege knows too well how crucial cancer research is in saving people’s lives.

The 19-year-old was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, a rare condition that accounts for just 2 percent of blood cancers, when he was just 6 years old.

When standard treatments didn’t work, he came to City of Hope for a stem cell transplant. The procedure was successful and now, 13 years later, the native of Tustin, California, is cancer-free.

“That experience just changed my life so much that I know I want to give back to society as a whole,” Sanchez-Luege said in an interview with the Orange County Register.

And this summer, he got to do just that at City of Hope’s Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy.

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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: What you need to know (w/INFOGRAPHIC)

July 31, 2015 | by

City of Hope lymphoma facts infographic

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Lymphoma survivor Tina Wang: Now she’s looking to the future

July 15, 2015 | by
mantle cell lymphoma survivor

College senior Tina Wang was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma when she was 22. After a stem cell transplant and a CAR-T cell therapy clinical trial at City of Hope, she’s now focused on the future.

Tina Wang was diagnosed with Stage 4 diffuse large b cell lymphoma at age 22.

She first sought treatment at her local hospital, undergoing two cycles of treatment. When the treatment failed to eradicate her cancer, she came to City of Hope.

Here, Wang underwent an autologous stem cell transplant and participated in a CAR-T cell therapy clinical trial. Now Wang is back in college studying nutrition and, this month, she celebrates one year of being in remission.

Here she answers questions about her diagnosis and her treatment experience at City of Hope.

What went through your mind when you were diagnosed?

At first, I was just shocked. I didn’t know what to do, what was going to happen. I don’t have a family history of any type of cancer, so at first I questioned if the doctor had misdiagnosed me. After a few days, I told myself that my only task was to follow all the necessary treatments. Other things could wait. » Continue Reading

Slice of Lime: Patient’s daughter is making a difference in other lives

June 11, 2015 | by
Slice of Lime

The concept for Slice of Lime was inspired by lymphoma patient Dave Sobel’s avid love of golf. Thus was born his daughter’s idea for an annual fundraising golf tournament. Now that tournament is helping hematology patients in Simi Valley, California. From left: Eddie Perez, Josh Isbell, Jayson Jones and Ted Barnes.  (Photo courtesy Lauren Miller)

Dave Sobel’s philosophy had always been about living life to the fullest. He loved golfing, listening to rock music and tropical relaxation. As his daughter, Lauren Miller, recalled: “His dream was to retire in the Caribbean and spend his days running a boat, a lime wedge in his tropical drink.”

Sadly, Sobel’s dream never came to fruition. In 2010, at the age of 54, his life was cut short by angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma, a very rare and aggressive cancer.

In honor of her father’s memory,  Miller , a legal secretary, created the Slice of Lime Foundation, named after her father’s retirement dream, as well as the lime green cancer ribbon for lymphoma. Since 2010, the charity has raised more than  $35,000 for blood cancer research and treatment.

Recently, to mark Slice of Lime’s fifth anniversary, Miller resolved to make a direct impact on the Simi Valley community, where her father and mother, Anita, had raised her and her siblings, and where her mother still resides today. “I wanted to do something special for Simi Valley residents,” Miller said.  After some initial research, she pledged $25,000 for City of Hope’s new community clinic in Simi Valley, to be raised by Slice of Lime.

This donation is the first to be specifically designated to the Simi Valley clinic. » Continue Reading

Translational researcher Larry Kwak explores lymphoma therapy’s frontier

May 31, 2015 | by
Translational research and scientific boundaries

Translational research expert Larry Kwak unites the lab with the clinic, bringing new therapies to patients.

His voice sounds distant and a bit distorted. The phone isn’t working properly. A second and third attempt to make the connection fail as well, so he patiently offers his cell phone number, not a hint of frustration apparent in his voice. The fourth time’s a charm; the connection is crystal-clear.

Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., a recognized expert in the clinical management of patients with low-grade lymphomas and a highly acclaimed cancer researcher, thoughtfully answers the questions posed to him. He is careful to choose the right words, not for fear of mistakes, but to ensure his listener understands his meaning. It’s easy to see why he is beloved by patients and highly respected as a researcher.

Kwak, in fact, is world-renowned for his expertise as a translational research scientist and physician. Formerly chair of the lymphoma and myeloma department at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, he recently joined City of Hope in a key leadership role within the new Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute. He is director of the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center, shaping the next generation of research and treatments for all types of lymphoma.

Bringing new therapies to patients quickly

Kwak also serves as the inaugural associate director for developmental therapeutics and translational research for the City of Hope’s comprehensive cancer center. He also is the first to hold the title of Dr. Michael Friedman Professor in Translational Medicine.

Known for his ability to bring together and lead effective research teams, he excels at integrating basic discoveries in academic laboratories with translational clinical development. » Continue Reading

Physician researcher Larry Kwak’s passion? Moving discoveries to clinic

May 2, 2015 | by
Dr. Larry Kwak

Renowned physician researcher Larry Kwak takes the helm of City of Hope’s new Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center.

Known for his ability to bring together, and lead, effective research teams, world-renowned translational research scientist and physician Larry W. Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., has joined City of Hope in a key leadership role within the institution’s new Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.

As director of the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center, Kwak will shape the next generation of research and treatments for all types of lymphoma. Kwak also will serve as the inaugural associate director for developmental therapeutics and translational research for the comprehensive cancer center, and he is the first holder of the title of Dr. Michael Friedman Professor for Translational Medicine.

In other words, Kwak will integrate basic scientific discoveries into clinical use.

“What makes me excited to come to work every morning — my passion — is moving lab discoveries to clinic,” he said. “One of my key roles will be to help our faculty develop their ideas and bring them to first-in-human clinical trials.”

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Fear, laughter … One couple’s advice on facing a terminal diagnosis

April 27, 2015 | by

When Keith McKinny, 29, was first diagnosed with lymphoma and leukemia in 2010, the first person he thought of was former boyfriend Jason Mullins.

couple facing cancer

Lymphoma patient Keith McKinny and his husband share some advice on how to cope when one partner is diagnosed with cancer.

The two hadn’t been in contact with each other for some time, but McKinny couldn’t think of anyone else with whom he wanted to be during that difficult period. He knew he had to find Mullins.

That proved more challenging than McKinny had imagined. Even with the help of the Internet and social media networking sites, McKinny wasn’t able to locate and communicate with his former boyfriend.

There was little left for McKinny to do but continue with his treatment on his own, as best he could. After his doctors in Hemet, California, told him there was nothing else they could do for him, he was transferred to City of Hope. At that time, his prognosis suggested he had but two months to live. Fortunately, because of City of Hope, that prognosis proved to be too grim.

In March 2011, McKinny had a stem cell transplant at City of Hope, which gave him more time with his family and friends, not to mention additional time to find Mullins. Finally, in 2013, three years after his diagnosis, McKinny located Mullins. They connected. The two have been inseparable ever since. » Continue Reading

My lymphoma diagnosis: What I learned – Geoff Berman

April 9, 2015 | by

Lymphoma patient Geoff Berman with his wife Autumn.

Geoff Berman, 61, starts his day with the motto: “The sun is up. I’m vertical. It’s a good day.”

Ever since he’s been in remission from lymphoma, Berman makes a special point of being grateful for each day, reminding himself that being alive is a gift. “I just enjoy living,” he said. “I give every ounce of positivity I can.”

This resolve followed Berman’s diagnosis for lymphoma in 2013, just days after purchasing a new home in Palm Desert, California, with his wife. They’d planned to live there peacefully and uneventfully with their two cats.

But what Berman first thought was a pulled groin turned out to be an abdominal mass the size of a grapefruit, and he was soon diagnosed with aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Finally, after seven rounds of chemotherapy, Berman came to City of Hope for an autologous stem cell transplant.

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Meet our doctors: Christiane Querfeld on cutaneous lymphoma

March 7, 2015 | by
Christiane Querfeld

Christiane Querfeld discusses how new cutaneous lymphoma therapies and physician collaboration lead to better patient outcomes

Cutaneous lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is a rare type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells and attacks the skin. It can cause rash-like skin redness and, sometimes, skin tumors. Although cutaneous lymphomas are rare, accounting for about 5 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas, approximately 20,000 people in the United States are estimated to have cutaneous lymphoma.

Here, dermatologist/dermatopathologist and cutaneous lymphoma expert Christiane Querfeld, M.D., Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s Cutaneous Lymphoma Program, discusses how new therapy options and continued collaboration among physicians have contributed to better care and outcomes for cutaneous lymphoma patients, and helped many to return to a normal life.

What is cutaneous lymphoma and what causes it?

Cutaneous lymphomas, also known as lymphomas of the skin, are rare forms of cancer of the lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell that fights infection in the body) that primarily manifest in the skin, but may spread to the lymph nodes, blood and other organs. All cutaneous lymphomas are non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Most cases of cutaneous lymphoma have no known cause, and therefore, they are difficult to prevent. Understanding why the lymphocytes on the skin become cancerous in the skin is a current research focus here at City of Hope. » Continue Reading

Curing HIV is the goal. New stem cell clinical trial could get us there

March 6, 2015 | by

Curing HIV, not simply controlling its replication, is the ultimate goal of HIV researchers. A new clinical trial at City of Hope could put that goal within reach.

The trial will test an innovative new therapy that modifies the stem cells of patients with HIV to make them resistant to infection with the virus. Here’s how it works:


A novel treatment for HIV will be offered via clinical trial at City of Hope. The therapy edits a patient’s stem cells to prevent production of a protein the virus needs to infect healthy cells.

The AIDS virus relies on a protein called CCR5 to penetrate and infect cells. For the trial, researchers will use a zinc finger nuclease, or ZFN, to modify blood stem cells from patients infected with HIV. The ZFN acts as a pair of molecular scissors that cuts the CCR5 gene out of the cells. Without the gene, there is no CCR protein – and researchers hope that when these cells are infused back into the patient, their immune system will be resistant to HIV.

“It’s erasing the gene, and once it’s erased, it never can reappear,” said John Zaia, M.D., in an interview with BuzzFeed News. Zaia is the Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy at City of Hope, chair of the Department of Virology and principal investigator of the trial. » Continue Reading