Eileen – Chemotherapy Densensitization

I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, specifically small lymphocytic lymphoma. The treatment for this type of cancer is a combination of chemotherapy drugs. I was to be given these treatments monthly for a number of months. Unfortunately, I had a severe allergic reaction to one of the drugs the first time I had them.

I received the chemo sessions in a 3-day series, once every four weeks. When I underwent the treatment, my skin broke out in blotches and itchy raised welts. The only thing that relived the rash was high and long-term doses of steroids. Even a month later when I went back for each successive treatment, I was still broken out in a red, painful rash from the prior chemo infusion.

At this point a friend of mine told me about the Chemo Desensitization program at DeKalb Medical. I asked my oncologist about it, and she convinced me to go ahead and give it a try. I only had one chemo treatment left and, quite frankly, I wasn’t optimistic about the chemo desensitization working.

I spoke with the program director, Dr. Gottlieb, two times prior to coming in for my chemo desensitization and last infusion. The first visit with him was an initial consult and the second visit was just before treatment. He clearly explained the process and gave me some medications to take prior to coming into the DeKalb Medical Outpatient Infusion Center.

Choosing to receive treatment at DeKalb Medical made a world of difference. By getting the chemo agents administered via the desensitization process, my body didn’t react nearly as bad. I still had a very mild reaction and turned pink, but it didn’t itch or hurt and never turned bright red as before. This also meant I didn’t have to be on the steroids for as long as I did with the first three treatments.

Although the chemo desensitization was lengthy – two 8-hour days – it was so worth it. The staff members at DeKalb Medical’s Outpatient Infusion Center were very nice, as were the accommodations. I had a nicely decorated private room with a bed, television and comfy chair for my companion. (Most infusion centers just give you a recliner chair.)

If you’re struggling with a reaction to your chemotherapy, I highly recommend the Chemo Desensitization program at DeKalb Medical. Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if the negative potential risks are very low. This treatment made my life so much easier, and the quality of care was wonderful!