Anal cancer survivor: Why I keep returning to MD Anderson

When I heard that Farrah Fawcett had died of anal cancer in June 2009, I remember saying out loud to myself, “Anal cancer? There is such a thing?” Less than three weeks later, I was diagnosed with the exact same type of cancer. I’d had just one symptom — a bit of blood on my toilet tissue — so I was in total shock. Having lived in Houston for 20-plus years before moving to Colorado, I knew I was going to MD Anderson. And I have no regrets. My only anal cancer symptom When I first saw the blood on my toilet paper, I thought I was getting hemorrhoids. I was approaching 50 at the time, so it didn’t seem that unusual. But when it happened again a week later, and then a week after that, and a week after that, I started getting nervous. The spot was probably no bigger than a quarter, but I knew something was wrong. I made an appointment with my local doctor. My physician thought it was probably hemorrhoids, too. He sent me to a specialist for a colonoscopy just to be sure. That’s how I learned there was mass about an inch long right inside my anal canal. My doctors in Denver couldn’t decide if it was anal or rectal cancer, so I came to MD Anderson, where I met with Dr. Cathy Eng. She gave me a definitive diagnosis: squamous cell anal carcinoma, a type of anal cancer. It had already spread to some nearby lymph nodes, which made it stage III. My anal cancer treatment Dr. Eng recommended six weeks...