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Health Spotlight | Breakthrough treatment makes dad cancer-free

Health Spotlight | Breakthrough treatment makes dad cancer-free

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system. It mostly strikes people in the prime of their lives – between 20 and 40 years old – and is usually treated with chemo and radiation. Now, a new treatment is turning the body against the deadly cells – giving more hope to more people battling this disease.

From basketball to ballet, Georgie Garabet knows to be a good dad to Sophia and Jude, he’d need to know a little bit about a lot. At just 43, he didn’t expect he’d have to do a crash course on cancer.

Georgie says, “I didn’t know what lymphoma was until they told me I had it.”

One of the first signs — an uncontrollable itch.

“I had to sleep standing up, sometimes. I couldn’t lay down. It was so bad,” Georgie painfully recalls.

Weight loss was quick and extreme.

“I’m usually around 245, 250. I got down to 170-ish,” he tells Ivanhoe.

Georgie was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin lymphoma. He immediately enrolled in a phase three clinical trial at City of Hope that combines chemo with Nivolumab, an antibody that tracks down the cancer hiding in the body and calls on the immune system to attack. After one year of treatment, 94 percent of patients were cancer-free, compared to 86 percent treated with the current standard of care, Brentuximab. Less than one percent needed follow up radiation treatment.

“Patients were twice as likely to have a relapse or disease progression if they were in the brentuximab arm. So, it was a huge improvement,” explains Hematologist at City of Hope, Alex Herrera, MD.

After his fourth infusion, Georgie was told there was no trace of lymphoma in his body. Two years later – still no sign. His focus now, entirely on his children.

Dr. Herrera says the next steps include following the almost one thousand patients in the trial. They hope to apply to the FDA by the end of this trial to make this treatment the standard of care for all stage three and four Hodgkin lymphoma patients.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.