Back to All News

St. Louisan shares CAR T-cell experience at Siteman Cancer Center

Morris (back row, center) and his family in 2017, before his CAR T-cell treatment. Morris (back row, center) and his family in 2017, before his CAR T-cell treatment.

At the end of 2017, after enduring two rounds of chemotherapy, participating in studies, and undergoing a stem cell transplant, Ed Morris thought he had run out of options. Despite the diligent work of his team at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, treatment had failed to control his large B-cell lymphoma.

Ed Morris
Ed Morris pictured in 2020.

Morris was a professor of finance at Lindenwood University, a position he’d held for 18 years after retiring from a career in investment banking. He’d written two books about his field. He was driven, active, good at seeing opportunities and adapting to new challenges. But now, the lymphoma seemed to have gotten the better of him.

Fortunately, Morris’ team at Siteman Cancer Center found one last option for him to try. The FDA had just approved a groundbreaking treatment called CAR T-cell therapy; at that time, Siteman was one of only 16 facilities in the world licensed to perform it. Morris’ physician, Siteman medical oncologist Todd Fehniger, MD, PhD, thought it was worth a shot.

Morris underwent CAR T-cell therapy in March 2018. The process began with tests and exams to ensure that he was a good candidate for the treatment. Then, his T-cells were collected in Siteman’s pheresis center, reconfigured in a laboratory, and returned to him through a simple IV infusion. After the treatment, Morris’ T-cells were ready to get back to work destroying the cancer cells in his body.

As his body adjusted to the treatment, Morris was grateful that members of his care team, including nurse practitioner Holly Comer, ANP-BC, and inpatient lymphoma coordinator Susan Young, RN, were always available to answer any questions that he and his wife, Peggy, might have. “The care and the professionalism and the knowledgebase that they have is unparalleled,” Morris said of Siteman staff.

Morris especially appreciated that Dr. Fehniger visited him in his hospital room after the treatment. He was impressed that a physician at a busy research institution such as Siteman would be so personally attentive.

“He’s a remarkable man,” Morris said. “It just meant a lot. I have a long list of people for whom I’m very grateful.”

Thanks to Siteman, Morris has now been in remission for more than four years. When he and Peggy first learned the CAR T-cell treatment had been successful, he said their reaction was “cautiously joyful.” As the years have progressed, that guarded optimism has become a reality.

Today, Morris is retired from his teaching position and enjoys traveling to see his children and grandchildren in California, Illinois, Maine, and New Mexico. He recently completed a novel and hopes to continue writing. A Washington University alumnus, Morris also participates in classes at the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

When he received his diagnosis, Morris shares, “there was no reason to go anywhere but Siteman. By reputation and certainly by results, Siteman was clearly the best place.”

Morris notes that philanthropic support from friends of Siteman Cancer Center has paved the way for groundbreaking research and innovative treatments like the CAR T-cell therapy that he received. When asked what he’d say to someone considering making a gift to Siteman, Morris simply said, “Do it! Your contribution will be so well-used.” Your generosity benefits the transformative research of Siteman’s physician-scientists; impeccable patient care and family support; and far-reaching efforts in public health and education.

By supporting the Discovery Fund, the Annual Fund, or a designation of your choice, you will help improve outcomes for cancer patients like Ed Morris around the world. Please consider making a gift to Siteman Cancer Center today.