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The one hundred honoree: Jenn Gilman

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Jenn Gilman

Mass General Giving

As the mother of three young children, Jenn Gilman told her doctor that he had to save her—she had the best life. For Jenn, succumbing to chemotherapy-resistant primary mediastinal b-cell lymphoma was not an option. She never gave up and today is cancer free and uses her courageous story to advocate for the benefits of immunotherapy clinical trials.

In December 2011, the avid runner was training for the Boston Marathon and began feeling winded after running just a mile. She was shocked when she was diagnosed with an uncommon, aggressive lymphoma that is often fatal. Jenn sought treatment at the Mass General Cancer Center under the care of Jeremy Abramson, MD, clinical director of the Center for Lymphoma.

Over two years, she underwent 11 different treatments, including five clinical trials, each of which failed. With no further treatment to offer, Dr. Abramson referred Jenn to the National Institutes of Health for a t-cell therapy clinical trial. Just the 12th person in the country at the time to undergo the therapy, Jenn had a lifesaving result.

Since her successful treatment, Jenn has shared her story at several Mass General Cancer Center events. Last October at HUBweek, a major art, science and technology event in Boston, she held listeners rapt as she described the almost immediate results when genetically modified t-cells were injected into her body and began to attack her cancer cells.

Thanks to what was learned from her treatment and others, she informed the audience, this once-experimental therapy is now available at Mass General and other advanced cancer centers across the country.