Anderson, TX

MD Anderson Cancer Center brings hope for non-Hodgkin lymphoma patient

Jessica Yang

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HOUSTON, TX — The cancer treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center has generated many positive testimonials from its patients. One of them is Amy Lee who has found hope for non-Hodgkin lymphoma she suffered at the cancer center.

In May 2019, she discovered a large lump as hard as a tennis ball in a part of her body that she and her family thought was a hernia. After undergoing a CT scan, a biopsy showed that Lee had aggressive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma — a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition, some extra cells called Burkitt's lymphoma were also found in her body. Cancer she experienced was located in the inguinal lymph node, stomach, and spleen.

Lee decided to go to MD Anderson Cancer Center as the place to treat her illness. Prior to her diagnosis, she underwent a mammogram and colonoscopy at the cancer center. She was handled by lymphoma specialist Dr. Michael Wang and radiation oncologist Dr. Bouthaina Dabaja.

She did not undergo surgery since lymphoma is a blood cancer. Otherwise, she underwent a combination of chemotherapy called R-EPOCH and radiation therapy, each of which required six days of in-hospital care during a 21-day treatment cycle. At that time, she received R-EPOCH, along with a lumbar puncture for chemotherapy to treat her brain for six nights.

On October 2, 2019, she completed R-EPOCH chemotherapy. Two weeks later, she underwent radiation therapy followed by oral chemotherapy in early 2020. But the oral chemotherapy was discontinued since it lowered her blood counts, lowered her immune system, and made her more susceptible to the coronavirus.

Since February 2020, she has had PET and CT scans every three to four months. The treatment team will determine whether she needs to continue oral chemotherapy after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Most of the side effects appeared when Lee was at home. She experienced hair loss between rounds one and two of chemotherapy. She also began to have difficulty processing information or called chemobrain and has not completely disappeared. And her worst side effect was oral mucositis which she treated with liquid food and oral products such as mouthwashes, lozenges, and throat spray.

In addition to staying positive, Lee explained a number of things that have aided her through her diagnosis and treatment. Among them are taking the time to be kind, having faith above the haunting fear, always seeing the wisdom of every bad experience, never missing a moment to help others, paying back what is gained, and always seeking help from people who are willing to lend their hands.

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