Lymphoma clinical trial helps entrepreneur get back to business
Getting back to business is a top priority for this entrepreneurial mom
Kelly Hale didn’t have time to be sick. With four active teenagers and a business to run, she was grateful that within three months of being diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, she was able to get back to the activities she loves.
The 52-year-old entrepreneur, who owns Multitudes, a women’s clothing and jewelry boutique, and has a passion for antiques and home renovation, knew it was a “tell-tale sign” when she didn’t feel well enough to continue renovations of the 100-year-old home she and her family are restoring.
In fact, Hale hadn’t been feeling well for nearly two years before learning in early October 2017 she had the slow-growing B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. During that time, she experienced low energy, thirst, itching and night sweats. A routine mammogram two months earlier revealed enlarged lymph nodes, and a biopsy was taken. The finding was follicular lymphoma.
Hale knew immediately where she would go for treatment.
“My father had been treated successfully for esophageal cancer at MD Anderson and I was so impressed with the treatment and care,” she says. “I put calls into three cancer facilities, but MD Anderson responded immediately.”
Hale had an appointment at MD Anderson scheduled “within 30 minutes of calling,” and was offered standard chemotherapy or enrollment in a clinical trial.
“I didn’t want to look sick. I didn’t want to lose my hair,” she says. “I opted for the study, although some family members were saying ‘hold on a minute.’”
Combination drug trial
She joined an MD Anderson clinical trial led by Loretta Nastoupil, M.D., assistant professor of Lymphoma & Myeloma. The Phase II clinical trial included treatment with a combination therapy of obinutuzumab and lenalidomide for follicular lymphoma patients who haven’t yet been treated for the disease. The four-year study, which aims to enroll 90 patients, had started just six months before Hale entered.
Obinutuzumab is an FDA-approved monoclonal antibody that binds to a protein on cancer-causing B lymphocytes or B cells, triggering an attack by the patient’s immune system that kills the B cells.
The FDA-approved immunotherapy agent lenalidomide causes cancer cell death and has been used successfully to treat inflammatory disorders and cancers such as multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes.
“I had a textbook response with very few side effects,” says Hale, who lives in Waxahachie, about 30 miles south of Dallas. “Since then, I have had three PET scans and continue to be in remission. I’ll soon cut back my visits for infusions at MD Anderson to every two months.”