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Lancaster County cancer survivor was the first to get new treatment

  • Scott LaMar
Tim Card

Tim Card

Airdate: January 23, 2023

Tim Card of Mount Joy in Lancaster County has described himself as never sitting still for long. He is married with seven children and owned a cross-fit gym, has been a youth pastor, sells real estate and rides motorcycles.

A little over five years ago though, Card was diagnosed with cancer – diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and it could have taken his life. But Card became a pioneer – he was the first person treated at the Penn State Cancer Institute in Hershey with chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy or CAR-T.

On The Spark Monday, Card talked about being the first to get the CAR-T treatment,”I know that the first time I’ve done things, it’s almost never the best time that I’ve done things. So I was a little nervous that I’m going to be the first one. But then I’d remember, too, that, like, this isn’t like yeah, hold my beer and check this out. This is some of the best doctors in the world that have been extensively trained and well-educated. And I figured I’m going to have more eyes on me as the first and than the fifth guy. Well, because it’s the first one. So when I actually got the medicine, the hospital was full. Yeah. There’s was probably a dozen people in there.”

Card described the treatment process,”The first thing they do is they put a disturbing large tube in your in your jugular because they’ve got to get a lot of blood out. It looks like a drinking straw and they hook you up to a freezer machine. It takes all day. They take the blood out and they spin it around. They call it what it looks like Neapolitan ice cream. Right. And they get chalky, vanilla and strawberry. They want to take the vanilla out and put the chocolate in the strawberry back in. And the vanilla is your T cells. So then they take those and they put them in a Ziploc bag pretty much. And one of those little coolers that you like you get at a garage sale, like an igloo cooler, they put it in that and they fly that out to California. And in California, there’s a whole factory that’s dedicated to making just these single doses of medicine. Think, have you had CAR-T and you took my dose. It wouldn’t work, but it’s specifically for the person who gets it. So they get that medicine and they get the T cells and they put them in this purple goo and and it increases and multiplies into billions and billions of cells. And then they do a variation of the HIV virus, too, to upload the RNA to make it attack my cancer. And then they put it back into you.”

Card was told he was in remission in November 2019,”We were at the hospital, we did another scan and he (the doctor) pulled it up right on the spot. And here let’s look and zoomed in on it. And so here’s where the problem was. I don’t see it. You’re as cancer free as you’re ever going to be at this point.”

On The Spark, Card had this advice,”Every single day is crucial. Live this day as fully as you possibly can because you don’t know what’s coming next. This is all we have right now. So live it as best as you possibly can.”


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