PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Getting a cancer diagnosis can be a scary thing, and getting a diagnosis where there is no cure can be even worse.
What You Need To Know
- CAR T-cell therapy is a new treatment for the multiple myeloma, a blood cancer
- Bright Land Coffee owner Gary Lambert is one of a small number of patients receiving the therapy, it is not currently available to all multiple myeloma patients
- To be accepted into the CAR T-cell treatment, patients need to ask their doctor first if they are qualified to be a candidate.
Gary Lambert, owner of Bright Land Coffee, is a science guy. With a degree in physics and math, figuring out how to brew the most delicious coffee piques his interest daily. He knows the right brew may take time to make and even has a tattoo on his leg that reads, 'Run your own race.'
"It’s from when I was a runner, and you know, you got to like remember that everyone has their own race, everyone has their own journey," he said.
Lambert's journey certainly took a turn in 2014, when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
“There is not an end, a finish line for this particular race, here isn’t one, you just got to keep going and going and going.” Lambert said.
Lambert has done a lot to keep his cancer at bay, which is why he is qualified to receive the new CAR T-cell treatment.
"Really what CAR T is, it stands for 'Chimeric antigen receptor T-cells,' a mouthful," said Dr. Brandon Blue, who administers the treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center. "And really what that means is we are actually able to use someone’s immune system to be able to fight cancer.”
In November, Lambert went to the cancer center for the new treatment. He is one of about 100 people to get, as it is not currently available to everyone with multiple myeloma.
“If you remember when the COVID vaccines first came out, we actually didn’t give them to everybody," Blue said. "Who did we give them to? We gave them to the most vulnerable people in our population.
"The same thing about CAR T — it’s not available for every person with multiple myeloma, it’s for the people who have unfortunately tried some of the tried and true medications, but unfortunately, they still need extra help."
Lambert is documenting his journey in the hope that he can reach remission — or at least get to a point where doctors don't detect any cancer cells.
“I’ve only had (the treatment) for two months and I feel great, which is a weird feeling because at first, I was pretty tired,” he said.
Lambert said he has faith in the research and the new technology making medicine better everyday.
“This is how I am able to still work by without overburdening myself physically," he said. "It's through utilizing new technology.”
Only a handful of facilities across the country offer CAR T-cell therapy and Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the larger ones. To be accepted into the treatment, patients need to first ask their doctor if they are qualified to be a candidate.