A stomach cancer survivor’s advice for other patients

When you first come to MD Anderson, you may be so overwhelmed that you have a real sense of urgency when you get here. Maybe you feel like there’s an alien invader in your body, so you want to jump straight into chemo. I understand that desire. I was diagnosed with stomach cancer in July 2005, and I ended up having both my stomach and my esophagus surgically removed. But my advice is to slow down. It took about a month to get everything ready for my stomach surgery. We had to discuss the plan, explore what life was going to be like for me after the surgery and make sure that what we were doing made the most sense — not just for the type of cancer I had, but for my specific cancer. Here’s some more advice that helped me through my stomach cancer journey. Slow down to notice ‘soul-buffering’ places MD Anderson is not just doctors and nurses and needles and tests. It is an entire community that has little soul-buffering places, too. If you slow down, you’ll find a bubbling fountain, an herb garden or a coffee shop around every corner. The sheer size of the place can be overwhelming, I know. I went from a hospital in Atlanta — which was just one building with multiple floors — to a complex of hospital buildings. Learning to navigate MD Anderson takes a lot of effort, but once you do, it can become a place of genuine comfort. So take it one step at a time. You don’t do cancer in one day. It’s a process....