Robb’s Life Chapter 24 – A Drug Treatment More Toxic Than Chemo

Robb clowns around as the visiting nurse checks the insertion site on his arm.

Robb clowns around as the visiting nurse checks the insertion site on his arm.

In late September, 1995, Robb was in the middle of a 21-day drug treatment for cytomegalovirus, a common virus associated with AIDS. The drug was more toxic than chemotherapy.

A visiting nurse stopped by several times a week to check how he was doing, clean the arm where the tube was inserted, and make sure he wasn’t having trouble with the machine administering the drug.

Robb had been sick for a couple of weeks and he was getting a lot of mail at WHBF-TV, and I would take the cards and letters to him.

This episode shows the visiting nurse, and Robb discusses the mail he is getting, including one horrible letter from someone in Clinton, Iowa.

This blog is recreating Robb’s Life as it originally aired during the last year of Robb Dussliere’s life. Please help keep Robb’s legacy alive and donate a few dollars to the DeLaCerda House — Robb’s favorite charity that provides housing for homeless HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click the Donate button on the right side of the screen.

Robb’s Life Chapter 22 – A Warning for Women about HIV

Robb, Kelli Hughes and Beth Wehrman arrive to speak to a church group in Davenport - September, 1995.

Robb, Kelli Hughes and Beth Wehrman arrive to speak to a church group in Davenport – September, 1995.

Kelli Hughes was a college student when she had sex during a one-night stand with a young man who infected her with HIV.

One mistake changed her life.

She became Robb Dussliere’s friend. Twenty years ago this week, Robb and Kelli spoke to a group of teens at a Davenport church about how they could avoid HIV. The appearance was organized by Beth Wehrman, who was Executive Director of the AIDS Project Quad Cities at the time.

When we shot this story in September, 1995, Kelli thought it would be a miracle to reach her 30th birthday, and she did not think a 50th birthday was even possible.

You want some good news? Kelli is still with us and she is only 4 or 5 years from hitting that 50-year mark. That’s how good the medication has become for those who contract HIV.

Take a look at the story and see how bleak her future looked 20 years ago. The new medications were just preparing to hit the market. We did not realize it at the time, but the new drugs came along in time to save Kelli, but not in time to save Robb.

Kelli and her husband and children (which they had using artificial insemination) are living in St. Charles, Missouri. I am attempting to contact her to catch up, but here is a story about Kelli that appeared in a Dewitt, Iowa newspaper five years ago.

There are still many people who are shunned and lose their jobs when they acquire HIV. Please help the DeLaCerda House by donating a few dollars to help support these people. It was Robb’s great passion in the last few months of his life. Follow this link and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page.

Robb’s Life Chapter 21 — Checking a Headstone Off the To-Do List

On September 13, 1995, this episode of Robb’s Life aired on WHBF-TV. Robb had been very sick the week before, and he and his parents, Lorney and Hattie Dussliere, realized they needed to select a headstone for their grave and check that item off the to-do list.

Robb barely smiled during this video shoot at Moline Monument, although you can hear him laugh during his first comment about the three of them agreeing “quickly for a change.” It was obvious he was not feeling well.

Help keep Robb’s legacy alive! Donate to the DeLaCerda House and help provide shelter and support for homeless HIV and AIDS clients. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click on the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.

Robb’s Life Chapter 18 — Making End of Life Decisions with Sisters Martha and Peg

Martha-Robb-Peg-8-19-95In late August, 1995, Robb met with his sisters, Martha and Peg, to go over end-of-life decisions. After a recent bout with a fever and as his throat continued to hurt, Robb seemed to realize that some loose ends needed to be tied.

This was one of my favorite episodes of Robb’s Life. I suppose I have several favorites, but seeing him interact with his sisters gave me a glimpse of what he was like as a brother, tormenting them as a child. And it was clear that Peg takes after her mom as her emotions come through during her comments.

Robb’s mischievous nature really comes out at the end when Martha and Peg are leaving. I’ve been laughing over this for 20 years.


Please donate to the DeLaCerda House and help provide shelter and support for homeless people living with HIV and AIDS in the Quad Cities. You will also help keep Robb’s legacy alive. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click on the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.

Robb’s Life Chapter 8 – Signing Up for an AIDS Drug Trial

Robb Dussliere - Louis KatzIn May of 1995, as new cases of HIV and AIDS were being reported daily, and as more and more people were dying from the disease, researchers and drug companies were frantically looking for an AIDS cure, or at least a way to reduce the amount of HIV found in the body. The goal was to slow down or reduce the amount of damage to the immune system.

One of the drugs being tested at that time was called “3TC.”

Robb returned to Genesis Medical Center, where Dr. Katz was helping to sign him up for a drug trial with 3TC.

Please donate to the DeLaCerda House and keep Robb’s mission alive, helping HIV and AIDS patients who find themselves homeless. Follow this link and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page.