Best of MD Anderson 2019: Why patients came here for treatment

Cancer patients come to MD Anderson for many reasons. Some want the expertise of the nation’s top hospital for cancer care for cancer care. Many want access to our cutting-edge treatments and our clinical trials. And some seek care here after hearing from friends or relatives about the compassionate care they received. Here are 11 reasons our patients and caregivers shared with us in 2019 about why they chose MD Anderson.  Skull base tumor survivor: “They gave me hope when all seemed hopeless.” Initially, Mark Bailey chalked up the double vision he’d been experiencing to the stress of being a homicide detective. But it turned out to be caused by a skull base tumor called chordoma of the clivus. None of his local doctors knew how to treat it, so he came to MD Anderson. Thymoma survivor: “I needed a higher level of expertise.” Cynthia Sanchez had known something was wrong for years, but no one in Laredo ever connected any of the symptoms she had with the tumor growing on her thymus gland. When a routine X-ray revealed it behind her breastbone, she called MD Anderson. Breast cancer survivor: “My doctors developed a plan that fit me perfectly.” After Lisa Tecklenburg was diagnosed with breast cancer, she worried she might not compete in endurance sports ever again. But after receiving personalized treatment at MD Anderson, the triathlete finished a competition with her best time yet — and qualified for the IRONMAN world championship. Throat cancer survivor: “It was like being cared for by my own family.” News photographer Damion Smith had covered stories about MD Anderson for years,...

Best of MD Anderson 2019: Words of wisdom from our cancer survivors

Cancer patients find hope in different ways. Some do it by reminding themselves that nothing lasts forever, and that this, too, shall pass. Others seek solace in faith, supportive relationships or celebrating small victories. In many cases, the insights they’ve gained from their experiences can help others facing cancer. Here are some words of wisdom our patients have shared with us over the past year that helped them stay upbeat as they navigated cancer treatment and recovery. We hope at least some of them will resonate with you and help you through cancer. “My life is different now, but it’s still good.” — Max Nickless, anaplastic thyroid cancer survivor “Don’t give up. This is only temporary.” — Ilyasha Hosea, breast cancer survivor “Some of life’s sourest lemons make the best lemonade.” — Ciara Toth, acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor “Each of us has greater strength because of the other.” — Ben Sanders, melanoma and prostate cancer survivor “Life can still be beautiful after cancer.” — Alexa Jett, papillary thyroid cancer survivor “I still have some dark days. But now, I also have hope and optimism.” — Elpida Argenziano, breast cancer survivor “Side effects are a small price to pay for my life.” — Peggy Port, ovarian cancer survivor “All I want to do is live well and love deeply.” — Nicole Body, sarcoma survivor “I choose to get busy living.” — Constance Blanchard, glioblastoma survivor “Every single bad day is better than no day at all.” — Deanna Wehrung, cervical cancer survivor “I have a lot to be happy about, just because I’m a survivor.” — Vanessa Sanders, breast cancer...

Best of MD Anderson 2019: What drives our doctors and researchers

Ever wonder what drives our doctors and researchers to end cancer? What compels them to work in medicine or even get out of bed in the morning? Here’s what five of our doctors and researchers shared with us this past year. Jim Allison, Ph.D., immunotherapy researcher and winner of 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Jim Allison, Ph.D., won the Nobel Prize in 2018 for his groundbreaking research on how T-cells function, which led to the development of an immune checkpoint inhibitor now called ipilimumab. Today, Allison is most excited about the future of immunotherapy and how it can be used to treat more patients and more types of cancer. But he’s especially touched every time he meets a patient who has benefitted directly from his research. “It really brings home that what started off as a fundamental science project and then became these clinical trials has real-life implications,” he says. Learn more about his story here. Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director, MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center Therese Bevers, M.D., always knew she wanted to work in health care. She just never imagined she’d be in preventive cancer medicine for more than 25 years. Caring for a maternal grandmother who’d had hip surgery is what initially led Bevers to nursing school. But she quickly realized that job wasn’t for her. A savvy advisor steered her toward medical school, and that’s where Bevers found her niche. After gravitating toward the preventive side of family practice for years, it was only natural for her to accept the role of medical director at MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center in 1996....

Best of MD Anderson 2019: Cancer survivors’ and caregivers’ stories of hope

During the past year, dozens of our patients and caregivers have shared their stories with us. Some dealt with proving a terminal diagnosis wrong. Others involved struggles with a challenging treatment, or making the best of life after cancer. The one thing they all have in common is hope. Here are some of our patients’ most inspiring tales from 2019. Our wish is that they will bring you hope, too. Tongue cancer survivor: Half of my tongue is gone, but I couldn’t be happier Jeannie Hopper will always speak with a lisp and have trouble swallowing. But she’s grateful to be alive after a stage IV oral cancer diagnosis, which required the removal of four teeth, the floor of her mouth, and half of her tongue. “I will never look in the mirror and see the person I expect to,” she says. “But I’m proud I made it, elated with my life and happy to be where I am today.” Medulloblastoma survivor: How I laughed in the face of cancer Sabrina Dominguez was undergoing treatment for medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, when a nurse advised her to “find her laugh.” She took that advice and found three ways to ease her journey with humor, including making jokes about bodily functions, commiserating with friends, and playing with a rainbow of colorful wigs. “Whenever my grandmother or mom noticed I was feeling sad, she would put on one of the sillier ones,” she says. “It never failed to make me smile.” Nasopharyngeal cancer survivor: A remarkable recovery Stewart Wright’s nasopharyngeal cancer was so advanced that he was originally told he...