Finding Strength in Second Opinions: Joe's Journey with DLBCL

Posted: January 04, 2024 | Word Count: 1,593

This content is provided by MorphoSys and Incyte.

In the fall of 2021, Joe was losing weight and feeling unusually weak. He visited his primary care doctor who could tell something was wrong and recommended Joe immediately go to the emergency room. It was there, during a prolonged stay, the doctors gave Joe news he never wanted to hear: he had cancer. Specifically, the doctors informed him that he was experiencing "major problems" from a form of blood cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (or DLBCL).

“When my primary care doctor urgently suggested I go to the emergency room, I knew this was something serious,” said Joe. “It was a jarring experience to hear I had what the doctors called a ‘very aggressive cancer’ because prior to the visit, I was just noticing some weight loss and fatigue. I thank my wife, who knows me better than anyone and noticed a difference in my energy levels and pushed me to see a professional.”

DLBCL affects approximately 28,000 people per year in the United States and is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a family of blood cancers. It is a fast-growing but treatable cancer affecting B-lymphocytes, also known as B cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections. As they develop, cancerous B cells become larger than normal and multiply uncontrollably.

With Joe's advanced stage diagnosis and his physical condition, his doctors recommended that he pursue hospice for palliative care to help ease the symptoms of his cancer. However, Joe wasn’t ready to give up.

“I was not ready for palliative care and knew I wanted to explore treatment options,” explained Joe. “With the support of my wife, seven younger siblings and congregation, I looked elsewhere, and my research landed me in San Antonio, Texas, where I met Dr. Enrique Diaz-Duque, a hematologist-oncologist specializing in lymphoma.”

“When I first met Joe, it was clear to me that he wanted to seek treatment for his DLBCL, and so I’m happy that he came to us and sought a second opinion,” Diaz says. “During our first visit we had a conversation about his personal goals, preferences and condition and my team and I evaluated the available options that we felt might be appropriate for him.”

“In addition to my family and faith helping me stay optimistic, Dr. Diaz and my supportive care team played a huge role in maintaining my attitude and outlook,” Joe says. “My care team was always positive and solutions-oriented which, coming from a hospice recommendation, gave me the hope I needed that I could find a treatment that worked for me.”

Joe’s care team started him on a standard chemoimmunotherapy regimen, but after about six months, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan showed that unfortunately there was still cancer present.

“We must emphasize that we (oncologists) treat patients with DLBCL with curative intent,” Diaz says. “Unfortunately, nearly half of patients see their DLBCL relapse (cancer returns) after initial treatment or not respond (cancer becomes refractory) to initial treatment. In looking at a second treatment for Joe, we needed to keep his age and functional status in mind and pursue an option that was right for him to get to the best results possible.”

For Joe, the next option he and his care team decided on was Monjuvi® (tafasitamab-cxix), a targeted immunotherapy treatment given with another medicine called lenalidomide to treat adults with certain types of DLBCL that has come back or that did not respond to previous treatment and who cannot receive a stem cell transplant. The approval of Monjuvi is based on a type of response rate. There is an ongoing study to confirm the clinical benefit of Monjuvi.

“I believe acknowledging the individual needs and preferences of each patient is imperative when managing cancers like DLBCL,” Diaz says. “Furthermore, listening to your patients and giving them the opportunity to weigh in on their care creates an open and honest environment and gives the feeling of a collaborative process.”

For Joe, it is important to him that treatment with Monjuvi does not require hospitalization — he can have it administered at a nearby healthcare facility by the local care team he has grown to know and trust.

“My family lives close by and I am thankful I do not need to be admitted or travel a long distance for my treatment,” Joe says. “Given my experience with cancer, I appreciate spending time with loved ones more than ever before.”

Joe responded well to Monjuvi and achieved a complete response, meaning all signs of his cancer have disappeared. A complete response does not always mean the cancer has been cured. Joe continues to take Monjuvi and continues to be under the care of his physicians who assess his health and continued response to Monjuvi. This is Joe's experience with Monjuvi and reflects results as of the date of this article. Every individual is different, and results may vary.

Monjuvi may cause serious side effects, including infusion reactions, low blood cell counts and serious infections. The most common side effects of Monjuvi are feeling tired or weak, diarrhea, cough, fever, swelling of lower legs or hands, respiratory tract infection and decreased appetite. Continue reading to learn more about these and other side effects.

“I truly believe my faith and my care team kept me going through the darkest of times,” Joe says. “They were there for me every step of the way, providing transparency, optimism and hope when I needed it most.”

Please read the Important Safety Information below to learn more about the side effects of Monjuvi.

What is MONJUVI?

MONJUVI (tafasitamab-cxix) is a prescription medicine given with lenalidomide to treat adults with certain types of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that has come back (relapsed) or that did not respond to previous treatment (refractory) and who cannot receive a stem cell transplant.

It is not known if MONJUVI is safe and effective in children.

The approval of MONJUVI is based on a type of response rate. There is an ongoing study to confirm the clinical benefit of MONJUVI.


What are the possible side effects of MONJUVI?

MONJUVI may cause serious side effects, including

  • Infusion reactions. Your healthcare provider will monitor you for infusion reactions during your infusion of MONJUVI. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get fever, chills, flushing, headache, or shortness of breath during an infusion of MONJUVI
  • Low blood cell counts (platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells). Low blood cell counts are common with MONJUVI, but can also be serious or severe. Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood counts during treatment with MONJUVI. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get a fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or above, or any bruising or bleeding
  • Infections. Serious infections, including infections that can cause death, have happened in people during treatment with MONJUVI and after the last dose. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get a fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or above, or develop any signs or symptoms of an infection

The most common side effects of MONJUVI include

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Swelling of lower legs or hands
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Decreased appetite

These are not all the possible side effects of MONJUVI. Your healthcare provider will give you medicines before each infusion to decrease your chance of infusion reactions. If you do not have any reactions, your healthcare provider may decide that you do not need these medicines with later infusions. Your healthcare provider may need to delay or completely stop treatment with MONJUVI if you have severe side effects.

Before you receive MONJUVI, tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions, including if you

  • Have an active infection or have had one recently
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. MONJUVI may harm your unborn baby. You should not become pregnant during treatment with MONJUVI. Do not receive treatment with MONJUVI in combination with lenalidomide if you are pregnant because lenalidomide can cause birth defects and death of your unborn baby
    • You should use an effective method of birth control (contraception) during treatment and for at least 3 months after your last dose of MONJUVI
    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant during treatment with MONJUVI
  • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if MONJUVI passes into your breastmilk. Do not breastfeed during treatment and for at least 3 months after your last dose of MONJUVI

You should also read the lenalidomide Medication Guide for important information about pregnancy, contraception, and blood and sperm donation.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you take, including prescription and over- the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or You may also report side effects to MORPHOSYS US INC. at (844) 667-1992.

Please see the full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, for additional Important Safety Information at

If you are living with DLBCL that came back or didn’t respond to the first treatment (relapsed or refractory DLBCL), have a discussion with your healthcare provider about your therapy options. To learn more about Monjuvi, relapsed or refractory DLBCL and for support and resources, visit

Joe and Dr. Diaz were compensated for their time.

MONJUVI is a registered trademark of MorphoSys AG.

MorphoSys is a registered trademark of MorphoSys AG.

Incyte is a registered trademark of Incyte.

November 2023 RC-US-TAF-01880

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