Leah Wiebe’s family posted this update about her and the treatment she is undergoing in the U.S. on her dad’s, Michael Rosenau’s, Facebook page August 6.
An August 5th update on Leah:
Leah entered the CD19 CAR-T clinical trial at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle on July 19.
On July 7 the doctors at Vancouver General Hospital told Leah that she only had weeks to live.
This means that the leukemia in her body was rapidly taking over her blood system.
This stage of leukemia has very drastic effects on the body.
When Leah entered the clinic in Seattle she was already in a wheelchair and barely able to walk.
Add to this the tremendous effects and side effects of all of the chemotherapy drugs and other drugs that Leah has had to take.
She is extremely sick and completely exhausted almost all the time.
Upon entry into the treatment at Fred Hutch the medical team immediately put Leah on a regimen of chemo therapy to prepare her for the CAR-T treatment which involves extracting T cells from her body, re-engineering those cells and weaponizing them to kill cancer cells, and re-introducing those cells into her body, all the while keeping her alive through the suppression of the leukemia through chemotherapy.
Because her blood system is so compromised by the leukemia her body has not been able to retain platelets which means that she bleeds very easily and her body is not able to stop the bleeding.
Leah ended up in emergency at the Washington University Medical Centre two days in a row because of bleeding that would not stop.
Ryan and Leah have been going into Fred Hutch almost every day to receive various kinds of tests and treatments.
The actual CAR-T cell extraction took place on Monday, July 24th.
The re-infusion of the T-cells is scheduled for Thursday, August 10.
This is the most critical stage and Leah may become much sicker than she already is during the week following the T-cell infusion.
The doctors have told her to expect to be hospitalized with high fevers that week.
We would ask for everyone’s prayers especially for this time, that Leah’s body would have the strength to withstand this stage of the treatment.
Ryan and Leah and their two kids, Oliver and Lincoln, and Moe and I, travelled to Seattle to be with Leah during her treatment.
Because of the summer being the peak tourist season in Seattle we were not able to find any place that was suitable for our family for the first 14 days we were in Seattle.
On August 1, we were finally able to rent an apartment that had enough space for our family.
We were able to get that house for one month.
Among the many amazing miracles of provision for Ryan and Leah and their family has been the provision of accommodation during the first 14 days in Seattle.
An executive from a hotel chain heard about Leah and our family’s situation and arranged for our family to stay in hotel accommodations four days prior to leaving for Seattle and then for the first 14 days we were in Seattle.
This executive gathered a number of her friends and they joined together to cover the cost of these hotel stays until we could find a place in Seattle.
We are very grateful for their thoughtful care, generosity and kindness to us.
On Thursday of this past week, I flew back to Terrace with the children.
Leah was not in good enough condition to have the children there and Oliver was getting sick.
With Leah’s compromised immune system and with her being so ill herself the family felt it was better to have the children back in Terrace until the worst is over.
So Moe, Leah’s mom, and Ryan and Leah are there together for the next couple of weeks.
We are tentatively looking at flying the kids back after the 20th of August.
If this treatment goes well and Leah goes into remission, she will be moving to the next stage which is a bone marrow transplant in Vancouver in late September.
This is a six-week procedure.
The kind of leukemia Leah has is very aggressive and it has a tendency of mutating and returning in many people.
Some people receive these treatments and are cancer free for the rest of their lives.
Others end up battling it through several relapses and multiple treatments in different medical centres and bone marrow transplants over several years.
We want this all to be over and for Leah to come home.
That is our hope and our prayer.
Now that the BC government has come through and paid for this treatment at Fred Hutch the funds that all of you raised will be there for Ryan and Leah in the event that things do not go well.
We don’t know how long they will have to deal with leukemia, but all of you who have responded to their great need have made it possible for them to have the peace and security that they will not have to worry about whether or not they will have the resources to face what is coming in the days ahead.
Again, we as a family thank all of you who gave to give Ryan and Leah a future and a hope.
The Wiebe and Rosenau families