CAR T Therapy for Relapsed/Refractory DLBCL: Brian’s Story - Episode 7

Relapsed DLBCL: Recovering After CAR-T

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Loretta J. Nastoupil, MD: Brian, how long were you in the hospital?

Brian Gerberich: I can’t remember.

Denise Gerberich: Two weeks.

Brian Gerberich: Two weeks. Six days of that I was in the ICU [intensive care unit]. I saw that with the stem cell transplant. You’re very isolated, and it’s the same thing with CAR-T [chimeric antigen receptor-T cell therapy]. It threw me for a loop just how isolated we really were. For patients who are getting ready to go through that, get ready and plan. I didn’t plan very well. I thought I’d just watch Netflix and I’d be fine. But that wasn’t the case.

I did audio books, I tried everything, and I couldn’t find anything that helped me get through that. That was the most difficult thing for me, and I was glad that Denise was able to be there. I would not have survived for sure.

Loretta J. Nastoupil, MD: Denise, do you feel like he was close to having all those symptoms resolved when he left the hospital?

Denise Gerberich: When we first left the hospital, and we stayed in the area as is the requirement to be monitored closely, he still had some, I would say, mild confusion, or maybe disinterest. If we were watching TV, and it might be on a program that he would never in a million years watch, but he would stare at it, not really with any interest but just not having the want or the desire to change the channel. Or I would say, “Do you want to watch something else?” “No, I’m fine.” But it was very weird. It was strange, to get back to his normal self.

But by the time we left the hospital, I felt like he was getting back to his normal self.

Loretta J. Nastoupil, MD: Yes, and you raise another good point. We do require patients stay within a certain radius for the first four weeks. We recognize that you might be in the hospital one to two weeks, and on average, patients stay for two weeks. Again, that’s because the vast majority of patients will have some form of acute toxicity, and we keep you in the hospital until that resolves.

What was it like between the time you were discharged from the hospital and before you saw me around day 30?

Brian Gerberich: What do you think?

Denise Gerberich: With talking to me, which we talk a lot and often, about everything, he did not have the discussion or the words. I was worried because I thought he was not his normal self. I definitely noticed changes like that. But some of it may have been due to medication also, which we were told about. It was difficult. It definitely was a process. It wasn’t like we had the treatment, got out of the hospital, and things were just normal. It definitely took some time to regain a sense of normalcy.

Brian Gerberich: I was surprised at how weak I was, actually. That really surprised me. I had some difficulty getting up and down. But every day it just got better and better. And while I wanted to just sit in a chair, I pushed myself pretty hard and was encouraged to get moving and walking the halls as much as I could, and that helped dramatically.

You have to work at this process. You have to participate and work hard and not give up. But again, the strength came back.

Denise Gerberich: Every day was better.

Brian Gerberich: Every day was a lot better.

Transcript Edited for Clarity