Following on from University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust being among the first in the UK to offer CAR-T cell therapy to treat lymphoma and leukaemia, we caught up with Kate and Mike Brandon.

Kate and Mike hit the headlines in 2016 when they fundraised for Mike to go to America to have CAR-T cell therapy.

CAR-T cell therapy is used when other methods of treatment such as chemotherapy have been unsuccessful and it has been shown in clinical trials to be successful at eradicating all signs of otherwise untreatable cancers in 40-50 per cent of patients.

The couple continued fundraising for Above & Beyond to help families being treated at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre.

We are now three years post CAR-T cells and Mike remains in remission! Thank you CAR-Ts, thank you Professor Marks and Bristol Haematology Oncology Centre (BHOC), thank you Dr Frey and Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, thank you Donate4Mikers, we continue to be grateful every single day to everyone who fought to keep Mike alive. 

We still go through scary times and it feels like life still involves walking on a tightrope, but with the more time that passes, the more clear tests he receives, our confidence builds and that tightrope becomes a little less scary. 

Living in this way has its challenges but it’s a constant reminder to us to be grateful for the small things, cuddles on the sofa, giggles with friends and family, singing to the dog.... I feel like I have fallen in love with him a little bit deeper with each hurdle we jump. The truth is despite the ‘scares’ Mike has been really well since the CAR-T cell treatment and life continues to get more exciting and fulfilling.

 Our latest set of firsts for 2018-2019 in no particular order… 

  • We both ran our first 10km
  • Mike completed all his vaccinations 
  • We went to Disneyland! (And yes we used a FastPass to meet Minnie and Mickey!)
  • Mike ran his first half marathon!
  • Mike played his first game of squash (badly), and… after four rounds of IVF we are five months pregnant!!!!

More importantly than all of this though is that CAR-T cell treatment is now being offered in the UK. We still hope to add to our Above & Beyond fundraising pot, although what we’ve raised so far will hopefully give a bit of support to families now going through CAR-T cell therapy.

The treatment can be a rough old ride, so anything to take the edge off can make all the difference. In a super hard moment in the Philadelphia hospital cafeteria, a complete stranger paid for my lunch to help me out. I will remember it forever and it still makes my eyes water.

Little gestures of care can mean the world.

Make a donation to the BHOC to help patients like Mike today.