Caring for Caleb

33125878_1537461911208137_r.jpegCaleb and Rebecca are a newlywed couple originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan but currently residing in Surprise, Arizona. Caleb is  a photojournalist in the United States Air Force and Rebecca is a first grade teacher. They have one fur baby, Sophie, who they love so much!

In late February, 2018, Caleb began developing bizarre and alarming health symptoms at a rapid pace.

Upon seeing his doctor and undergoing various tests, it was discovered that a large, grapefruit sized tumor was growing inside of Caleb’s chest with other nodules and tumors in his lungs.

After several biopsies, scans and blood work, Caleb was diagnosed with stage four primary mediastinal, high-grade aggressive, large B-cell non-hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Caleb and Rebecca were both shocked and crushed. The life they were living and the life they had planned suddenly took a turn down a new path.

Within weeks, Caleb underwent testing and procedures to outfit his body for upcoming chemotherapy treatments. After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, it was discovered that the chemo was unsuccessful in treating the cancer.

Through the frustration and heartbreak, Caleb's oncologist was excited to share with us that there was a brand new treatment being administered at Mayo Clinic. This treatment, called CAR-T, is a new immunotherapy treatment which has a 70% success rate.

Caleb had his own T-cells removed on August 17, 2018 to be sent off to become genetically modified cancer fighting cells. The process took about 3 weeks, during this time Caleb had  to have 3 more rounds of conditioning chemotherapy for his body to better accept the CAR-T.

September 10, 2018 was the big day...the day where Caleb received his new cells! This day was equally exciting and scary for Caleb and Rebecca because of the many side effects that come along with this CAR-T treatment. 

The first few days were filled with many fevers, nauseousness and exhaustion after the cells were introduced to Caleb's body. On early Friday morning though, Caleb took a turn for the worse. He was very confused, his ability to speak declined and was unable to independently  move around. These are the beginning signs of neurotoxicity in the body. Caleb was then immediately sent down to the ICU for close monitoring and given steroids and tocilizumab to stop the side effects. Unfortunately, this did not completely stop the brain swelling that had already set in. Caleb's stability continued to quickly decline and the ICU team was very fast in getting him stable, though they needed a lot of assistance to make that possible - Caleb had to be put into an induced coma with a ventilator, feeding tube and a drain in his brain to keep his intracranial pressure at a normal level. 

Though it was been a very frightful three days, Caleb has been making so much improvement. As of Sunday, September 16, he has been taken off of sedation, removed from his ventilator, and his brain drain has also been removed. After being bedridden for 8 days, Caleb lost a lot of his mobility and strength, so they're currently focused on regaining that strength with physical, occupational and recreational therapists. 

While Caleb and Rebecca have been going through this, they have had a lot their family and friends come to Arizona to help them, but there is no family living in Arizona, so Rebecca was suddenly forced to take time off teaching to assist Caleb in his fight with cancer and getting on the road to recovery and they have lost almost half of their income because Rebecca only has 10 paid days of leave through her employer.

Rebecca has been driving 43 miles to and from the hospital on a daily basis as she stays with Caleb all day in the hospital. We expect them to be continuing this drive multiple times a week while Caleb will have many check-ins with his oncologist, neurologist and therapists to be sure he is healthy and continues on the right track to health.

We're hoping to relieve as much stress as possible from Caleb and Rebecca so they can focus on Caleb getting back on track. The littlest donation will be so helpful in making that possible! The funds will be used for day to day necessities like paying the bills, food, and gas. 

To read more in depth about Caleb's journey read his informative blog at www.calebworpel.com/worpelblog

Thank you for considering donating to
 Rebecca during their great time of need!

*Not military endorsed
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Organizer and beneficiary

Neecie Denia 
Organizer
Surprise, AZ
Rebecca Worpel 
Beneficiary
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