First Wash. leukemia patient to try new therapy is cancer free

SEATTLE -- Seattle Children's Hospital made a landmark announcement Wednesday -- the first leukemia patient in the state to try a new cancer therapy is disease free.

The treatment, called cellular immunotherapy, is designed for the toughest cases of leukemia. At 23 years old, Lynsie Conradi is fighting leukemia for the third time. Cancer and chemotherapy have taken their toll.

"Hard. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through," she said.

Lynsie knows heartbreak. She knows hardship. She knows cancer.

Last year, cancer took her husband Rodney's life. And it's trying to take hers, too.

"I've relapsed so many times, sometimes I feel like this is what my life is meant to be. I'm just meant to have cancer," Lynsie said tearfully, while her mother Donna Rainford shook her head.

"No. I don't think so," Donna said. "I don't think anyone's meant to have cancer. I think, Lynsie, you've been through so much. She's been through so much."

Lynsie's leukemia is now resistant to chemotherapy, giving her less than a 20 percent chance of survival.

Researchers asked her to try a new therapy. They took Lynsie's blood and focused on the cells that fight infection: the T-cells.

In the lab, they added a man-made gene, then returned those souped-up T-cells to Lynsie's body.

"That new gene enables the T cells to recognize the cancer as foreign and bad and then triggers the T-cell to kill the leukemia cell," said Dr. Rebecca Gardner, the lead researcher on the Seattle Children's study.

A mere seven days later, doctors checked Lynsie's bone marrow and found no disease. The leukemia was gone.

"The suffering and the pain, emotional and physical and all of that are going to be behind us," Rainford said.

Lynsie is doing so well, she was able to check out of the hospital for a few days.

She is scared the cancer will come back. But a team of researchers and a world of hope are behind her.

"Don't ever give up hope. Don't ever give up hope," Rainford said. "There's some dark days, but we don't know what's going to happen. Don't give up five minutes before the miracle."

For More Information:

Seattle Children's Leukemia Cancer Trial

Treating Childhood Leukemia without Chemotherapy or Radiation