My B-cell lymphoma treatment during pregnancy

During the first trimester of my pregnancy, I had a lingering cough that would not go away. I thought it was allergies, so I procrastinated about going to the doctor. After all, I was a 33-year-old fitness instructor in top health. But after I coughed so hard I fractured a rib, I saw several doctors and underwent both an X-ray and a CT scan. That’s how I learned of the 16-centimeter mass sitting on top of my left lung. My doctor immediately reached out to MD Anderson Sugar Land, which is only 10 minutes from my house. Within three hours, I was there, discussing my tumor with Dr. Janet Tu and scheduling a biopsy to determine whether I had cancer. Dr. Tu explained that if the tumor was benign, it would be more complicated to remove surgically since it was so close to my heart and lungs. If it turned out to be lymphoma, however, we could melt away the tumor with chemotherapy. Tailoring B-cell lymphoma treatment for my pregnancy A week later, Dr. Tu called with a diagnosis: primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma. Because I was pregnant, she referred me to MD Anderson’s Lymphoma and Myeloma Center. Before my first appointment, I worried about whether my doctors would know how to treat me without harming my baby. But I could tell immediately that my team knew what they was doing. My doctors helped me find an OB/GYN who specialized in pregnant cancer patients and told me they knew that they were not treating one patient, but two, so my baby would always be considered in treatment decisions. That’s why...

Colorectal cancer survivor: Giving back changed my life

Sharing my stage IV colorectal cancer story with others is a blessing, though I’ll admit: at the time of my diagnosis, I didn’t feel this way. In June 2016, my gastroenterologist discovered a 4.5-centimeter mass in my cecum — a pouch connected to where the small and large intestines meet — during a colonoscopy. A subsequent CT scan revealed that the cancer had spread to several lymph nodes and my liver. Up until that point, I was a healthy and physically active 71-year-old, and suddenly I was thrust into a world of uncertainty and medical jargon. Trying to wrap my mind around it all was like trying to drink through a fire hose — overwhelming. Colorectal cancer treatment at MD Anderson I didn’t like what my first oncologist had to say, so I came to MD Anderson for a second opinion. Dr. Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez and Dr. Brian Bednarski recommended I begin treatment with surgery instead of chemotherapy because my tumor was impacting my appendix. So during a four-hour surgery in July 2016, Dr. Bednarski removed the tumor, along with 2 feet of my large intestine, several infected lymph nodes and my appendix. Shortly after surgery, I began chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Douglas Nelson at MD Anderson in The Woodlands because it is close to my home. Every other Monday, I spend about four hours getting my infusion at the clinic, then leave with a chemo pump to continue treatment for an additional 48 hours. Since I still have multiple cancer nodes in my liver and lymph nodes, I will continue this process indefinitely. Enjoying life despite cancer...

Colorectal cancer survivor: Giving back changed my life

Sharing my stage IV colorectal cancer story with others is a blessing, though I’ll admit: at the time of my diagnosis, I didn’t feel this way. In June 2016, my gastroenterologist discovered a 4.5-centimeter mass in my cecum — a pouch connected to where the small and large intestines meet — during a colonoscopy. A subsequent CT scan revealed that the cancer had spread to several lymph nodes and my liver. Up until that point, I was a healthy and physically active 71-year-old, and suddenly I was thrust into a world of uncertainty and medical jargon. Trying to wrap my mind around it all was like trying to drink through a fire hose — overwhelming. Colorectal cancer treatment at MD Anderson I didn’t like what my first oncologist had to say, so I came to MD Anderson for a second opinion. Dr. Edwardo Vilar-Sanchez and Dr. Brian Bednarski recommended I begin treatment with surgery instead of chemotherapy because my tumor was impacting my appendix. So during a four-hour surgery in July 2016, Dr. Bednarski removed the tumor, along with 2 feet of my large intestine, several infected lymph nodes and my appendix. Shortly after surgery, I began chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Douglas Nelson at MD Anderson in The Woodlands because it is close to my home. Every other Monday, I spend about four hours getting my infusion at the clinic, then leave with a chemo pump to continue treatment for an additional 48 hours. Since I still have multiple cancer nodes in my liver and lymph nodes, I will continue this process indefinitely. Enjoying life despite cancer...