Press release posted September 2023
A retired IT Project Manager living in the Flixton area of Manchester says he owes his life 3 times over to Manchester's specialist cancer centre, The Christie.
Dave Gibb, age 73, is married to Carole Gibb and has 2 children (Adam and Mandy) and 2 grandchildren (Penny and Luna). Adam is a specialty doctor at The Christie, and Mandy is a 6th-form college teacher. He was first diagnosed with Stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma in October 2010.
Dave's lymphoma was diagnosed shortly before he was due to go on a cruise to celebrate his fortieth wedding anniversary. He had gone for an eye test, and the opticians saw something worrying and recommended Dave urgently see his doctor. "The doctor sent me for a blood test at my local hospital, who then subsequently diagnosed advanced blood cancer," said Dave. "My first reaction was shock and anger as I felt I had so many things still to do in life."
"I had an initial round of standard chemotherapy at Trafford General Hospital in October 2010 but was promptly transferred to The Christie in December as a patient of Professor Bloor. I was immediately put on a newly adopted treatment protocol with a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs working alongside a targeted cancer drug called rituximab. This was followed by a stem cell transplant and five weeks in an isolation ward.
"Whilst the treatment was successful and put me in full remission, my blood count would not pick up, and I needed regular blood transfusions over the following year. This was not a sustainable solution.
"Then 'lady luck' played a hand. A scheduled scan showed a slight enlargement of my spleen, and fearing it to be a possible source of the cancer returning, I was told it would be prudent to remove it. Subsequent pathology tests did not find any evidence of cancer there, but almost immediately, my blood count started to climb back to an acceptable level, and I was eventually discharged a very happy man.
"There then followed 7 wonderful years in full remission and great health. We moved to a lovely village in the Wirral, where I bought a boat, learnt to sail, and became a grandparent.
"Unfortunately, in 2019, my cancer returned. However, The Christie still had some tricks up its sleeve. I was then treated with ibrutinib, which quickly returned me to a stable position. For a further 2 years, I enjoyed good health and took part in many sailing adventures, holidays and child-minding duties.
"Being immunosuppressed due to my lack of a spleen probably made me more susceptible to COVID-19, and I caught it twice, both times involving a lengthy stay in hospital. But thanks to Professor Bloor and the amazing team at The Christie, I survived to fight another day. However, my white cell count was now climbing, and my cancer returned with a vengeance.
"With another slice of good fortune, The Christie had recently started to provide a new treatment called CAR-T (cell therapy). I was assessed as being a suitable candidate for the therapy. After a round of chemotherapy designed to drive down my increasing white cell count, I underwent a procedure to 'harvest' my T-cells.
"They extracted my blood and spun off the required cells, which were sent to a specialist laboratory in the USA with the capability to perform complex cutting-edge cell re-engineering.
"The modified T-cells came back to Manchester and were transfused back into me to do their magic during a stay of three weeks as an inpatient at The Christie. In simple terms, my own re-engineered and somewhat beefed-up T-cells could hook onto the cancer cells and destroy them. The finer details of which are way beyond my knowledge base.
"Numerous scans, bone marrow aspirates and blood tests since have found no trace of my cancer, and I am once again considered in full remission. My recovery from the CAR-T treatment was a somewhat lengthy process but occurred over an expected timescale. I am now fully recovered and enjoying excellent health.
"Following the CAR-T treatment, we moved back to the Manchester area to be nearer to our family and enable us to exploit our child minding opportunities. I have also bought a new boat.
"Throughout my long periods of illness and subsequent treatments, I have massively benefitted from the direct support of my consultant Professor Bloor and his team, along with my family.
The Christie has saved my life on three occasions taking into account the cancer treatments and COVID-19 episodes. The Christie is a place that is full of talented and caring people at all levels and for whom I have nothing but the highest admiration and respect. Walking through the doors of The Christie was strangely one of the luckiest things I ever did.
"Having beaten cancer 3 times, I plan to live life to the full, go on as many holidays as possible and watch my grandchildren grow up."
Dave's consultant, Professor Adrian Bloor said: “Mantle Cell Lymphoma is an uncommon form of blood cancer with around 600 patients diagnosed in the UK every year. It can usually be successfully controlled with chemotherapy for a few years, but standard treatments are not curative.
“Dave has been under my care for more than 10 years following his diagnosis. He initially responded well to chemotherapy however his disease relapsed in 2022. He was clinically suitable for CAR-T therapy and has had a fantastic response to this treatment.
“CAR-T therapy has only been available as treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma for the last couple of years and has transformed treatment for this disease and other blood cancers.”