How I survived breast cancer treatment away from home

When my very first mammogram revealed stage IIIC breast cancer, I was dealt the shock of my life. My mother died just seven months after she found out she had lung cancer, and I feared that I, too, would face the same fate. My case was rare for my small town in Mississippi, so my husband and I decided to come to MD Anderson, where we knew the specialized care would give me the best chance at survival. Leaving home for breast cancer treatment was not an easy choice, but I knew my three children, who were all young teenagers at the time, needed me in their lives. My MD Anderson care team actually collaborated with my local oncologist so that I could I receive my chemotherapy back home. But I had to stay in Houston for my mastectomy and eight weeks of radiation therapy. I ended up staying in Houston for three months. To make it work, I relied on my family, friends and community. Here’s how I dealt with receiving breast cancer treatment far away from my family. One day at a time At the beginning of my treatment, I bought a calendar and crossed off each day that passed. A friend said that it would one day help me see how far I’d come and give me the strength to continue. It definitely came handy on the days I felt weak and wanted to give up. Every day, my radiation oncologist, Welela Tereffe, M.D., and my husband reminded me that I was on my journey, not my mother’s.  Creating normalcy for my kids My kids were...