Poland woman is cancer free after participating in clinical trial

Local News

A Poland woman is cancer free after a groundbreaking clinical trial at University Hospitals.

“I thought, ‘No one’s telling me I’m gonna die, but I’m kinda figuring it out.’ That… well, nothing’s working,” said Denise Keenan, the first CAR T-cell Therapy patient at University Hospitals.

Denise Keenan was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009.

She went into several remissions before her cancer returned in 2016 in a more aggressive
form.

It was at that point that she started to get scared.

“We had just had our first granddaughter, and I kept looking at her thinking ‘Am I ever gonna get to see her get a little older?’ I just.. didn’t think I would,” she said.

Keenan went to a Lymphoma specialist in Pittsburgh, but everything they tried on her didn’t work.

“Each time, it reoccurred. They had a plan for what they were gonna do. Well, once I reached the point where, well, there might not be any plan, my doctor in Pittsburgh said, ‘You can either do chemo until it doesn’t work anymore,’ and it wasn’t working, ‘or you can go for this CAR T-cell Therapy,'” she said.

That’s what she did.

The clinical trial at University Hospitals is called CAR T-cell Therapy. It’s delivered in one syringe and re-engineers T-cells to seek out and destroy the cancer cells.

Keenan, the first CAR T-cell patient at University Hospitals, received shocking news only 30 days after getting the cells.

“I had the cells July 30. I had a CAT scan a month later. They said, Everything is gone,’ and I just didn’t know what to do with that information, because I had been thinking so much the other way. I know that doesn’t sound positive,” she said.

Denise Keenan is now in a complete remission, spending time with her husband and is overjoyed to continue watching her granddaughter grow.

University Hospitals is the first in the nation for this type of trial because they engineer and process cells in their own lab.

Keenan doesn’t know how long this will last, because they don’t have the long-term data, but she encourages people going through similar situations to seek second opinions and do their research on clinical trials.

Denise is scheduled for her next CAT scan in March. Right now, she feels great.

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