Despite COVID-19, survivor gets to ring the bell with his family

Over the course of their 33-year marriage, Jack ("Pat") and Cindy Chamberlain have faced many challenges. Jack lost his job right after they tied the knot, and within a month, Cindy lost her job, too. Their daughter was born eight weeks prematurely in 1989, and they were told initially that she probably wouldn’t survive. Three weeks later, the baby was discharged from the NICU and sent home with her parents. “It’s kind of been that way all along,” says Cindy. “We’ve had some really great times together and then — BOOM! Another huge bump in the road. You just readjust and go on.” But when Jack, a colorectal and prostate cancer survivor, finished 39 days of radiation therapy at MD Anderson in Sugar Land on April 1, 2020, Cindy thought she would be by his side to mark the occasion. Both she and their now-grown daughter had taken off work that day, so they could watch him ring the bell to celebrate the end of his treatment. Then, MD Anderson, like other hospitals, temporarily stopped allowing visitors on its campuses, to protect its patients and workforce from the 2019 novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19. The family was heartbroken. “I wasn’t so much sad for me as I was disappointed for him,” Cindy says. “This was such a big deal for us. Jack talked about it constantly for two weeks. It was going to be exciting for us to have that symbol of accomplishment.” Visitor restrictions call for creative solutions to mark the end of cancer treatment That’s when Cherie Walters, an advanced practice provider supervisor, and Caitlin Byler, a regional...

MD Anderson president: How I’m practicing self-care during the COVID-19 response

Like everyone, the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted my work life and daily routines. As president of MD Anderson, my focus in this critical time has shifted to ensuring the protection and safety of our uniquely vulnerable cancer patients, our workforce and protecting our Houston area community from the virus. Undertaking this proactive response means that my long days are defined by executive briefings, virtual meetings, teleconferences, and virtual team check-ins. I have spent a great deal of time studying epidemiological data, collaborating with health system CEOs in our region and across the country, and talking with business, political, and religious leaders in our community.  Along with this, I am talking with pandemic experts regularly and keeping up with rapidly changing news.  And most importantly, I am committed to staying connected with our incredible workforce through frequent and transparent communications such as daily update emails and video messages three times per week. I am proud to lead our outstanding organization through this unprecedented challenge. As a physician who has personally cared for patients during crises, I understand the desire to be a lifeline to those who need us – whether they are patients, colleagues or loved ones – and trying to balance old and new responsibilities even under extraordinary circumstances. Just as I have encouraged all of our workforce to practice self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for me to look after my own physical and emotional health during this period of increased stress and uncertainty. I know this is necessary so that I can continue to bring my best self to work. How I...