Pancreatic cancer survivor: 3 myths about MD Anderson

I live in Dallas, but when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 2017, I chose to come to MD Anderson for my treatment. My husband Jim and I knew it was doing groundbreaking research and offering clinical trials in all areas, and we wanted to be at the very best place with the most options. We also wanted a firm diagnosis. My physician strongly suspected I had pancreatic cancer, but only because she’d done bloodwork during my annual checkup — and it showed a few of my numbers were off-the-charts haywire. She ordered a CT scan and saw a mass near my pancreas. But I had zero symptoms, so we didn’t know for certain that it was pancreatic cancer until I came to MD Anderson. Once I started treatment there, I was surprised by some of the misconceptions I heard from friends, often repeatedly. So, here are three myths that I’d like to dispel about cancer treatment, based on my experience at MD Anderson. Myth 1: You have to navigate cancer on your own. A lot of patients have this idea that once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you have to do your own research to understand your disease and get the best care. But that’s simply not true. At MD Anderson, there are so many resources available to you. And I don’t just mean from the internet. I mean from patient volunteers willing to share their stories and doctors who are extremely open to communication. All you have to do is ask. MD Anderson even has support teams to help people who are from out of...

Breast cancer survivor: Watch for changes in your breasts

In late 2016, I was eating organic food, working out regularly and had never missed a mammogram. Yet, I still ended up with a breast cancer diagnosis at age 50. I felt a lump in my right breast one day and knew it wasn’t normal. So, I went to my primary care physician. She ordered a diagnostic mammogram, and a biopsy to confirm it. Then she referred me to a local oncologist. Originally, I’m from Chicago, but I’ve lived in eight different cities since then. So, while I’d probably heard MD Anderson’s name in passing, I was completely unaware that it was the nation’s top-ranked hospital for cancer care. That’s why I didn’t even think of it when I was diagnosed on Dec. 27, even though I live just down the street. Today, I am so glad that I landed there. Because I am fairly picky, and everyone on my team at MD Anderson was amazing. I don’t believe in flukes, so I attribute my guidance there to the hand of God. Quick self-referral process swayed me One of the things that astonished me most was how responsive everyone at MD Anderson was. I learned that I had breast cancer at 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. I couldn’t eat or sleep that night, so I went online to do some research. Then, somebody in a cancer forum wrote, “You know, you live in Houston, so you might want to check out MD Anderson. It’s considered the best in the world.”  I went to the website and filled out MD Anderson’s online form in middle of night. And to my...