Nick’s Story

Head shot of Nick in front of a building
Nick and his dog on a hike
Nick and his daughter playing with toy cars

I remember watching while they were putting the CAR T cells into me. I felt hopeful that things were going to start turning around.
This was our fresh start.

—Nick

Fighting fire with technology: A new treatment for DLBCL

Burning buildings didn’t faze Nick. Heights? No problem. When some people run from a problem, Nick suited up and ran toward it—especially if it meant saving someone else’s life. And yet after being diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the ever-optimistic firefighter was almost stopped in his tracks.

His fight began at a time in his life when everything seemed to be unfolding exactly as he planned. Nick was living out his dream: Working as a firefighter and married to the love of his life, Rachel. At age 31, they were looking forward to starting their family and building their lives together.

Nick standing in front of a bob cat statue

Then Nick felt a bump below his collarbone. When more bumps appeared, he made an appointment with his doctor. “I hid our suspicions from the chief and my brothers at the firehouse,” he says. “I didn’t want them to question my ability to work and mark me as sick.”

A PET scan found cancer in Nick’s bones and riddled throughout his body. As his condition continued to deteriorate, he was admitted to the hospital. There, he was finally diagnosed with DLBCL.

I hid our suspicions from the chief and my brothers at the firehouse. I didn’t want them to question my ability to work and mark me as sick.

A different approach

When Nick’s final round of chemo ended, his friends and family celebrated. They thought the nightmare was behind them. But the following month when Nick returned for a follow-up PET scan, it showed a spot on his liver. The cancer was still there.

Again, Nick and Rachel consulted with his oncologist to determine the next step. Nick signed up for a clinical trial and saw almost immediate results. He had a clear scan. It was the miracle they hoped for. “Everyone was so happy!” says Nick. “My doctor was pleased, but he knew we had to do a stem cell transplant or it would come back.”

While he was preparing for the transplant, Nick saw a report on the news about CAR T cell therapy, which is made from a patient’s own white blood cells. If the stem cell transplant failed, could CAR T cell therapy be an option for him?

Nick holding up his Hike Colorado shirt while hiking

Everyone was so happy! My doctor was pleased, but he knew we had to do a stem cell transplant or it would come back.

Lucky numbers

His transplant went well, and Rachel and Nick began to make plans for the summer. “We were ready to end our journey with cancer,” says Nick. “But a PET scan showed a spot in the middle of my chest. The DLBCL was back.”

Because he had received at least 2 previous treatments that didn't work or stopped working, Nick asked his oncologist about a CAR T cell therapy clinical trial. They discussed the trial that would later lead to the approval of Breyanzi, and they discussed side effects that can be life-threatening and can lead to death, including cytokine release syndrome and neurologic toxicity. They also discussed other common side effects, such as fatigue, severe nausea, severe diarrhea, and infections. Nick and his oncologist felt Breyanzi was the right choice for him, and he put his name on the list. He was number 21.

See additional Breyanzi Important Safety Information.

Nick receiving treatment for DLBCL

We were ready to end our journey with cancer. But a PET scan showed a spot in the middle of my chest. The DLBCL was back.

In the meantime, Nick and Rachel decided to move forward with their baby plans. While Nick waited for his place in the Breyanzi clinical trial, Rachel started the in vitro process.

Soon they received some wonderful, well-timed news: Rachel was pregnant. Then a few weeks later more good news came: Nick’s number was called for CAR T cell therapy. He was next in line for the trial.

Nick sitting in a hospital bed During DLBCL treatment

Breyanzi experience

To prepare for Breyanzi, Nick underwent another round of chemo. Although it took a toll on his body and spirit, the potential of the new therapy helped pull him through those difficult days.

At last, the day arrived for Nick to receive his Breyanzi treatment. “I remember watching while they were putting the CAR T cells into me, and I was looking at Rachel the entire time,” Nick says. “I felt hopeful that things were going to start turning around. This was our fresh start. Nothing else mattered except us and what was occurring at that moment.”

Nick remained in the hospital to be monitored and treated for side effects. The doctors monitored his bloodwork closely and confirmed his progress. Side effects with Breyanzi treatment will vary from patient to patient. Breyanzi can cause side effects that may be life-threatening and can lead to death, such as cytokine release syndrome and neurologic toxicities. Because of the risk of cytokine release syndrome, neurologic toxicity, and other side effects, patients like Nick must remain close to where they received treatment for at least 4 weeks after the infusion for side effect monitoring.

Nick and his dog on a hike

I felt hopeful that things were going to start turning around. This was our fresh start. Nothing else mattered except us and what was occurring at that moment.

Nick returned home after being monitored for side effects, and Rachel and Nick found out they were having a girl. Nick painted the nursery pink, and they spent days strolling around baby stores picking out baby clothes and furniture. Rachel and Nick joined their families around the table filled with gratitude for the possibilities that seemed in reach. Over time, Nick felt well enough to return to work at the firehouse.

Then, a PET scan revealed the news they prayed for: Nick’s cancer was in remission. But the test that Nick was interested in was day 100. That was the scan where the cancer showed up last time. “I knew my remission might not last,” says Nick. “A lot weighed on that scan. Part of me said it was too good to be true.” After the 100-day scan, his oncologist came in with good news. The scan was clear.

Circle of life

Nick and Rachel welcomed their daughter, Julia. His next scan was scheduled for the following week. Now, with so much more to live for, the news that he was still in remission brought a renewed appreciation for life and for Breyanzi.

While Nick’s scan showed that he was in remission, it does not mean he’s cancer-free. Nick continues to be monitored for possible disease recurrence and long-term side effects from CAR T cell therapy.

Today, Nick is fully focused on the future as he watches Julia grow up and continues to give back to his community as a firefighter and a cancer survivor. And he’s found a way to merge his 2 passions by mentoring firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer. “It’s so important to find the silver lining,” he says. “Acknowledge your fears and talk about them but stay optimistic. There are several options in cancer treatment out there. Stay open to the possibilities.”

Nick and his daughter walking on a pedestrian bridge

Acknowledge your fears and talk about them but stay optimistic. There are several options in cancer treatment out there. Stay open to the possibilities.

See more stories from others treated with Breyanzi

Dan’s Story

Dan and Jodi dreamed of retiring and taking off on their boat when Dan was diagnosed with DLBCL. Despite the cancer progressing, Dan and Jodi remained hopeful, finding the good in every single day. Dan received several treatments before receiving Breyanzi.

Bill’s Story

Bill learned mental and physical toughness at a young age—a resilience he’d carry into his fight with DLBCL. When the cancer he’d managed for 10 years took a turn for the worse, Bill’s positivity intersected with a great medical team and treatment with Breyanzi.

David’s Story

David received Breyanzi to help battle his cancer after being diagnosed with DLBCL and failing multiple treatments.
READ MORE +

Important Safety Information

What is the most important information I should know about BREYANZI?

BREYANZI may cause side effects that are life-threatening and can lead to death. Call your healthcare provider or get emergency help right away if you get any of the following:

  • difficulty breathing
  • fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher)
  • chills/shaking chills
  • confusion
  • severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • severe fatigue or weakness

Important Safety Information

What is the most important information I should know about BREYANZI?

BREYANZI may cause side effects that are life-threatening and can lead to death. Call your healthcare provider or get emergency help right away if you get any of the following:

  • difficulty breathing
  • fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher)
  • chills/shaking chills
  • confusion
  • severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • severe fatigue or weakness

It is important that you tell your healthcare providers that you have received BREYANZI and to show them your BREYANZI Patient Wallet Card. Your healthcare provider may give you other medicines to treat your side effects.

How will I receive BREYANZI?

  • BREYANZI is made from your own white blood cells, so your blood will be collected by a process called leukapheresis.
  • It takes about 3-4 weeks from the time your cells are received at the manufacturing site and are available to be shipped back to your healthcare provider, but the time may vary.
  • Before you get BREYANZI, you will get 3 days of chemotherapy to prepare your body.
  • When your BREYANZI is ready, your healthcare provider will give it to you through a catheter placed into your vein. BREYANZI is given as infusions of 2 different cell types.
    • You will receive infusions of one cell type, immediately followed by the other cell type.
    • The time for infusion will vary, but will usually be less than 15 minutes for each of the 2 cell types.
  • During the first week, you will be monitored daily by the facility where you received your treatment.
  • You should plan to stay close to this location for at least 4 weeks after getting BREYANZI. Your healthcare provider will check to see that your treatment is working and help you with any side effects that may occur.
  • You may be hospitalized for side effects and your healthcare provider will discharge you if your side effects are under control, and it is safe for you to leave the hospital.
  • Your healthcare provider will want to do blood tests to follow your progress. It is important that you have your blood tested. If you miss an appointment, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible to reschedule.

What should I avoid after receiving BREYANZI?

  • Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other activities that could be dangerous if you are not mentally alert, for at least 8 weeks after you get BREYANZI. This is because the treatment can cause temporary memory and coordination problems, including sleepiness, confusion, dizziness, and seizures.
  • Do not donate blood, organs, tissues, or cells for transplantation.

What are the possible or reasonably likely side effects of BREYANZI?

The most common side effects of BREYANZI are:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher)
  • chills/shaking chills
  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • headache
  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • swelling

BREYANZI can increase the risk of life-threatening infections that may lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you develop fever, chills, or any signs or symptoms of an infection.

BREYANZI can lower one or more types of your blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets). After treatment, your healthcare provider will test your blood to check for this. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get a fever, are feeling tired, or have bruising or bleeding.

Having BREYANZI in your blood may cause a false-positive HIV test result by some commercial tests.

These are not all the possible side effects of BREYANZI. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS and Medication Guide.

Indication

BREYANZI is for the treatment of large B-cell lymphoma in patients when at least 2 previous treatments have not worked or have stopped working. BREYANZI is a medicine made from your own white blood cells; the cells are genetically modified to recognize and attack your lymphoma cells.