I have not posted for a long time, but wanted to
share my story. I am a 43 year old female diagnosed with
follicular lymphoma (Grade 1, stage 4, over 50% bone marrow
involvement) in September 2002. After many months of agonizing
over whether to do the NCI vaccine trial (PACE + vaccine) or the
Genitope vaccine trial (CVP + vaccine), I went with the Genitope
I had CVP from April 2003 -August 2003. Much to my dismay, I
progressed through the CVP. I then decided to enroll in the
Genitope rollover trial in February 2004 (rituxan + vaccine -- you
definitely receive the vaccine because there is no placebo). I
progressed through rituxan as well and, therefore, I once again did
not receive the vaccine. At this point, I decided to opt for a
very aggressive chemo called ICE. My hope was to get into
remission from the ICE and then receive the vaccine under a
"compassionate use" theory since Genitope still had my
After my second cycle of ICE (June 2004), I ended up in the ICU with
a severe neutropenic infection. I remained in the hospital for
over a month, and at one point had zero neutrophils (for close to
two weeks) and was told the neutrophils may never come back. I
somehow pulled myself together, recovered and left the hospital in
time to celebrate my 13 year old daughter's bat mitzvah (I also have
ten- year old twin daughters) which was a truly wonderful occasion.
I did not achieve even a partial remission with ICE, although there
was some shrinkage of my lymph nodes. My bone marrow
involvement was now over 80% and I needed to find another treatment.
Shortly thereafter, I entered a phase II clinical trial for a
promising chemotherapy drug called Bendamustine. After
finishing six cycles, I achieved a complete remission!
After completing the Bendamustine treatment in late April 2005, I
went on to receive the vaccine in June 2005 through enrolling in a
new arm of the Genitope trial created for roll-over failures.
My vaccine had at that point been frozen for about 1 1/2 years!
I received the vaccine right after the Bendamustine and received a
total of 8 vaccinations (one vaccine every two weeks).
It has been over two months since I completed the vaccine and I
continue to be in remission as of my CAT scan yesterday. I
wanted to share my wonderful news and hope that by sharing my story
it will give hope to others. I am hopeful that Bendamustine
will be approved in the near future by the FDA.