My journey to overcome three cancer diagnoses

Everyone’s cancer journey is unique, and mine has certainly been more unusual than most. It began in August 2005, when I was diagnosed with two different breast cancers — one in each breast. Then, just four months later, I was diagnosed with stage II colorectal cancer after noticing intermittent bleeding in my stool. Having lived in the Houston area my entire life, I felt that there was only one place to go — MD Anderson. I had my first appointment with my breast surgeon, Rosa Hwang, M.D., in August 2005. Coordinating my breast and colorectal cancer treatment Dr. Hwang performed a double segmental mastectomy to begin my breast cancer treatment. In October, I started chemotherapy, but that was put on hold once my colorectal cancer was diagnosed. My care team did an amazing job coordinating treatments for each cancer. My radiation oncologist, Thomas Buchholz, M.D., recommended we first shrink the colorectal tumor with radiation, so I had daily colorectal and breast radiation for seven weeks. I also had concurrent chemotherapy during this time, under the care of Cathy Eng, M.D., for my colorectal cancer. In April 2006, Miguel Rodriguez-Bigas, M.D., performed surgery to remove the colorectal tumor, at which point I was declared cancer-free! However, I still had six months of chemotherapy after surgery. The treatments were exhausting, especially as I continued to work as a third grade teacher and as a mom to my three kids, then ranging from middle school to college. However, all of their activities gave me a sense of purpose, and I wouldn’t have made it through without the support of my family and...