Ms Gray underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which initially cut the size of the tumour, but then the cancer became more aggressive
A young woman from Lancashire who almost died of cancer has become one of the first in the UK to give birth following an innovative treatment.
Sammy Gray, 26, feared chemotherapy had left her infertile but has gone on to have a son after CAR-T cell therapy trained her body to fight back against the disease. Ms Gray, who is from Blackpool, first experienced chest pains and night sweats in 2018 shortly after the birth of her first child, a daughter called Harper.
Worried that it may be a blood clot, doctors actually discovered a mass on her chest which was diagnosed as non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.
Ms Gray underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which initially cut the size of the tumour, but then the cancer became more aggressive and progressed. By June 2019, she was out of treatment options but medics at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester decided to try CAR-T cell therapy, which was only approved on the NHS in 2018.
CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) is a type of immunotherapy which involves reprogramming the patient’s own immune system cells. These cells then work to target the cancer. The treatment carries risks but has managed to cure some patients, even those with quite advanced cancers and where other treatment options have failed.
Ms Gray gave a blood sample that was sent to the US where her T-cells were genetically modified. These were then put back into her body via a drip in the September, with the hope they would boost her immune system’s natural response to cancer.
The gruelling treatment made Ms Gray feel very ill but, after a month, she was allowed to go home. The treatment worked and three, six and 12-month scans gave her the all-clear, showing no signs of cancer. Cancer treatments can leave women infertile and Ms Gray did not have periods for a year.