At age eleven, Ryan Durant was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. When Ryan’s cancer proved to be resistant to standard chemotherapy treatments, his doctors recommend the CAR-T cell trial at Duke University. Ryan received his T-cells in January 2016 and has since remained cancer free!
In their own words, Ryan’s parents Michael and Jenny Durant share the story of their son’s diagnosis, treatment, and life after CAR-T cell therapy.
Meet Ryan. Immunotherapy boy. One of the most caring, fun, positive, and energetic kids you’ll ever meet.
Ryan makes the most of life every hour of every day – singing, dancing, playing, and doing whatever he can to make people laugh. Two weeks into the start of 6th grade, he was getting very fatigued in P.E. class and feeling winded just walking up the stairs to his room. He appeared to have a common “stomach bug” with infrequent vomiting and a low grade fever.
A routine visit to his pediatrician led us directly to Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and on August 31, 2015, we heard the words that no parents want to hear. Cancer. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
After several unsuccessful months of chemotherapy, Ryan failed to achieve remission. We were running out of options. His older brother was a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant, but that could not happen until the leukemia was completely gone. Further genetic testing revealed that Ryan has a rare gene that makes him resistant to most traditional chemotherapy treatments. Our doctor recommended us for an immunotherapy trial at Duke University, and thankfully we were accepted into the program.
Ryan’s own cells were taken from his body that November, and then sent to a lab where they were engineered, multiplied, and “reprogrammed” to attack his cancer. On January 19, 2016, he received his own reengineered cells and has been cancer free since then!
He was fortunate to be one of less than 100 kids who had received this treatment in the United States. We’re very happy to report that Ryan was able to rejoin his friends in 8th grade this year. He’s back on the A/B Honor Roll, and is even more active and goofy now than he has ever been!
We are so thankful for the incredible support we received from our family and friends, our amazing teams at MUSC and Duke, and to all of our local Charleston charities who selflessly give their time to help families like us through the most challenging time in our lives.
He is proof that your donations to organizations that support cancer research are truly making a difference in the future of treating blood cancers. Thank you!
We’re making it our mission to change the standard treatment narrative for all kids fighting childhood cancer. We want a different journey for these heroes – one with less toxic treatments and without fear of relapse or loss of life. We need to write a better story for children fighting cancer!