Avera Medical Minute: Marshall woman credits unique therapy in reversing her lymphoma

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 10:42 PM CDT
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MARSHALL, MN (Dakota News Now) - Seeing the sunrise every day is not taken for granted after having stage-four lymphoma. Being cancer-free for a year means everything to Myra Kronke.

"I could still get tears over it," said Myra.

Her health crisis began back in 2018.

"Middle of the night I had back pains like I was in labor. It was so bad," said Myra.

Doctors tirelessly worked to find a diagnosis.

"A little lump that I had felt. And so I showed her that. So she said we better do a PET scan," said Myra.

"That's when it came back, stage four lymphoma," said Myra.

Myra's husband Dennis was by her side for five days of ongoing chemotherapy.

"96 hours of chemo. Each bag took 24 hours to go through," said Dennis.

Dr. Kelly McCaul is the Director of Hematology with Avera Medical group. He suggested the next step: CAR T therapy.

“Reprogramming the immune system with our T cells to attack cancer,” said Dr. McCaul.

Extracting the T cells took several hours.

"They take blood out of you. And it runs through a machine, and spin your blood and take your T cells out," said Myra.

Myra's T cells were sent off to a lab.

"Our immune system is important in fending off cancers. And so what we do is we kind of supercharge their own T cells by genetically modifying them," said McCaul.

Myra had lab work, flushing her port and other procedures in her hometown at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, while CAR T was in Sioux Falls. The communication between the two hospitals was seamless.

"They could read it in Sioux Falls what was going on here," said Myra.

After resting for several months, Myra turned the tide. The CAR T therapy was successful.

“And we try to give them another lease on life so that they’re, they’re healthy they’re happy. Their quality of life is high, and they can see their family and do the things like what she’s doing, which is taking care of her great-grandchildren,” said McCaul.

“I’m just so hopeful. I’ve had a whole year that I didn’t necessarily plan on having, everything’s good,” said Myra.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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