Breast cancer survivor: Why I support clinical trials

As an 18-year cancer survivor who has been on three clinical trials, I am a big proponent of them – especially at MD Anderson. I joined the first one in March 2010 to see if a drug normally used to treat high cholesterol could also prevent a breast cancer recurrence. I joined the second one in September 2010 to see if an IUD could prevent a precancerous condition from developing into uterine cancer. And I joined a third just a few months ago to see if controlling my blood sugar levels might help prevent a breast cancer recurrence. Are clinical trials going to work for everyone who participates in them? No. But I think there’s a misconception out there that joining one somehow makes you a guinea pig. And that’s not the case. By the time a new medicine or protocol is tried on humans, it’s been vetted by many doctors and scientists. And a lot of the cancer drugs and treatments we have today, such as immunotherapy, started out as a good idea explored through clinical trials. How cancer research saved both my breasts I benefitted very early on from MD Anderson’s research. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2000, I’d just relocated to Houston, and my first oncologist recommended a double mastectomy. But there was nothing wrong with my right breast, and I was only in my early 40s at the time. My employer encouraged me to seek a second opinion. At MD Anderson, I met with surgical oncologist Dr. Henry Kuerer. He said, “Well, a double mastectomy is one protocol to treat breast...

Kindness made the difference during my leukemia and kidney cancer treatment

I don’t get sick very often. And no one in my family has ever had cancer, so when I was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2012, I didn’t even really know what it was. But I believe we go through certain things so we can be there for other people. That’s why I’m sharing my story here now. Because I went through some pretty dark times during my leukemia treatment, and I wasn’t always sure I was going to make it. But with the help of my doctors at MD Anderson, I did — and you can, too. Why I chose MD Anderson It was around Christmas in 2011 that I started feeling really bad. I thought I was getting the flu, so I picked up some over-the-counter medicines and treated myself at home. When I still didn’t feel any better after a couple of weeks, I went to see my general practitioner. She did some blood tests and discovered I had leukemia. Once I understood what that was, I knew I wanted to go to MD Anderson. It had a track record I respected, and its doctors care for people from around the world — from the simple man to the CEO. My leukemia treatment The first time I met Dr. William Wierda, I knew I’d come to the right place. He sounded and acted so confident. His confidence proved well-founded, too, because here I am six years later, cancer-free. To treat my leukemia, Dr. Wierda recommended eight initial rounds of chemotherapy, which I received through an IV over 8 months. I also took chemotherapy in pill form...