Cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic: FaceTime keeps couple connected

Callie Piper is a planner with a capital “P.” And nothing thrown her way during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed that. “I’ve always been ultra-organized,” says Callie, an event planner with a human resources company. “There’s nothing more rewarding than detailing every step of a project in advance, then seeing it play out perfectly.” Those planning skills kicked in two months ago when Callie was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma. “Fighting this disease would involve at least six months of appointments and procedures,” she says. “My calendar was about to drastically change.” Callie shared her treatment schedule with her boyfriend and best friend so that one or both could accompany her to every appointment. “I knew I’d need help remembering everything the doctor told me,” she says. “And, frankly, it’s reassuring to have a loved one there holding my hand. I’m a strong and independent person, but cancer is scary.” A plan for Callie’s Hodgkin lymphoma treatment Callie’s first visit to MD Anderson on March 4 was filled with back-to-back tests that began at 6:45 a.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m. The results confirmed that the initial diagnosis provided by her hometown doctor was accurate.  She had stage II Hodgkin lymphoma. “I felt vulnerable and confident at the same time,” she recalls. “Vulnerable because I had cancer, yet confident that MD Anderson – the best cancer center in the country – would help me beat this disease.” During the appointment, Callie met her new oncologist, Sairah Ahmed, M.D., who spelled out the next steps. “She laid it on the line,” Callie remembers. “I’d...