After 15 Years, Life-Changing Results for this Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patient

According to a story from Cure Today, Geoff Grubbs had accepted chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) as a part of his daily life, with no expectations of a cure. But after participating in two clinical trials are receiving five different treatments, his latest test results revealed what thought to be almost impossible: complete remission. Needless to say, the 72 year-old was amazed by the news.

About Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a form of blood cancer which affects lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. The disease may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages. This cancer is linked to certain genetic mutations; notable risk factors for this blood cancer include old age, being male, exposure to certain insecticides, exposure to Agent Orange, and family history. Symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include fever, anemia, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and fatigue. It is also possible for this disease to transform into a more aggressive and faster progressing type of blood cancer like Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Treatment for this disease focuses mostly on controlling symptoms, and there is no cure. These treatments may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, bone marrow transplant, or biological therapy. As a slow growing cancer, the five-year survival rate is 83 percent. To learn more about chronic lymphocytic leukemia, click here.

Geoff’s Story

After working at the Environmental Protection Agency for 30 years, Geoff was diagnosed with leukemia only four years after going into retirement. The news completely blindsided him, as he went into the doctor’s office that day feeling generally healthy and satisfied with his life:

“I got really angry. I was just really ticked off, because it just screwed up a gorgeous day. And I knew I was going to have to deal with this thing. I knew it was going to be a long haul. And it’s impossible to sort of get your get your mind around at first, but I was pretty mad.” – Geoff, leukemia survivor

The next five years were a sort of latency period in which Geoff did not need to begin treatment and his cancer was in a dormant state. Then suddenly, he was hammered by wave of symptoms, such as severe fatigue and rapid weight loss.

He received multiple therapies and joined a trial, but his cancer would return quickly after stopping treatment. Then he decided to try a second trial. This trial evaluated a combination of venetoclax, a BCL2 inhibitor, magrolimab, a monoclonal antibody, and obinutuzumab, another monoclonal antibody. After three months of treatment, his minimal residual disease (MRD) test, which searches for stray cancer cells after treatment remission, came back negative. While there’s a small chance the leukemia could return, Geoff was practically cured by the treatment. 

The clinical trial is expected to be complete in 2027.


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