My name is Jessica Marriott. I am a Graduate Enrollment Counselor at a private university in Southern California. I work with international students entering the United States to study at the Graduate and Doctoral level. I have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. On March 4, 2009 after going in to the doctor for a physical, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. (CML) I was 46 years of age at diagnosis. I remember the shock as I sat there with my doctor and she explained to me a bit about what was going on inside my body at the chromosomal level.
I was referred to one of the top oncologists in this field at UCLA medical center. I can still feel the fear that came over me as reality hit that I had cancer. My oncologist placed me on one of the FDA approved drugs available (there are 3) called Gleevec. At first, this medicine appeared to work and my blood counts began to fall back into normal parameters. The side affects of this medicine were awful. I was on this treatment for only about 4 months before my blood counts began to soar and my oncologist determined that this drug was not effective. He feared that I had become ‘resistant’ which was later confirmed. He then placed me on the second of the 3 FDA approved drugs which was not effective. Further testing revealed that my body had developed a ‘mutation’ that prohibited the drugs from working effectively. The only remaining step to take was to have a Bone Marrow Transplant. This transplant would devastate my body and would it would take me a year or longer to recover. Shock set in as I processed this information in my mind and walked through the process of chemotherapy, radiation and what that would do to me. As I mentally and emotionally prepared myself for this procedure, my oncologist contacted me and told me about a clinical trial being performed at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and wanted to know if I could participate.
Participating in the clinical trial meant making several trips to San Francisco to determine if I qualified for the trial and then moving to San Francisco for several months and putting my job and life on hold. The financial implications were daunting and seemed insurmountable. During the consultation visit at UCSF, I was introduced to Lazarex Cancer Foundation and told they could possibly assist me. From my first contact with Lazarex I was amazed at their sensitivity and responsiveness. With Lazarex’s assistance, I was able to relocate and participate in the trial. I can’t stress enough how important Lazarex has been to me. I have since moved back home and returned to work, however, I continue to travel back to UCSF on a monthly basis for testing as well as to pick up the medication as it cannot be purchased over the counter. Lazarex has been with me every step of the way assisting me. On May 21, 2010, I received another life altering email from my oncologist at UCSF informing me that results of my most recent bone marrow biopsy test indicate that the medication I’ve been taking as a part of the clinical trial has been tremendously successful and there is a 100% cytogenic response! This means there is no evidence of disease.
Update January 2018
It has been over 7 years since Jessica was told she was cancer free as a result of her participation in a clinical trial! Additionally, the trial drug that she received was approved by the FDA seven years ago. Jessica returned home and went back to work and her life in southern CA. Jessica recently married Jeff, her long time love, in November 2017.