Virtual art lessons help our pediatric cancer patients

Kasey Marsh has always been a creative person. She ran her own professional photography business for over a decade, and has drawn and painted as a hobby throughout her life. Now, she facilitates art activities with our pediatric and young adult cancer patients in her role as merchandising program supervisor for MD Anderson Children’s Art Project. Some of their art is used to create Children’s Art Project retail products. The net proceeds from the product sales benefit patient programs for children with cancer. She also photographs patients participating in art activities for use in marketing materials and social media. “Their resilience gives me such perspective and gets me out of bed in the mornings because being a part of their lives is a privilege, and I can’t wait to see what they create,” she says. “They give me purpose beyond measure and are truly a gift to me.” A sign that she was meant to work at MD Anderson MD Anderson treated several of Marsh’s family members, including her mother. In 2012, her mother died in the Palliative Care unit after living for 15 years with stage IV colorectal cancer. Marsh credits her mother’s care team, which included Ara Vaporciyan, M.D., for the extra years she had with her mother. “Because of them, she was able to see me get married, meet her grandchildren, and live many full, happy years longer than at initial diagnosis by a different provider who gave her 18 months to live,” Marsh says. When Marsh decided it was time to leave her photography business, she knew she wanted to work somewhere that served others...

Multiple myeloma survivor: Staying positive is a way to give back to others

When Marie Chaplinksy went in for a checkup with her cardiologist in March 2017, she was surprised when she was called back to have her bloodwork done for a second time. Her test results showed that she was very anemic, and her doctor noticed other concerning markers. After the second round of tests, her cardiologist suspected that she had cancer and referred her to MD Anderson. Marie, now 71, set up an appointment at MD Anderson West Houston, which was much closer to her home in Katy than the Texas Medical Center location. After additional testing, she learned that she had stage I multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She was also considered high-risk due to the results of her bone marrow aspiration, which was done during her diagnostic testing. Approximately 15% of patients with multiple myeloma are considered to have high-risk disease, which is associated with a shorter remission and an earlier risk of relapse. The diagnosis came as a shock to Marie, who didn’t show any symptoms. Multiple myeloma patients may experience bone lesions or kidney issues as the disease progresses. “I was encouraged by my team’s knowledge and expertise. They shared with me that while there was no cure for multiple myeloma, they had instances of patients still living after 17 years,” says Marie. “I wanted to be one of those people.” Multiple myeloma treatment closer to home In May 2017, Marie’s doctors prescribed chemotherapy, which would be followed by a stem cell transplant. The chemotherapy treatments lasted for four months and included a combination of kyprolis, revlimid and dexamethasone. While Marie did not...

Multiple myeloma survivor: Staying positive is a way to give back to others

When Marie Chaplinksy went in for a checkup with her cardiologist in March 2017, she was surprised when she was called back to have her bloodwork done for a second time. Her test results showed that she was very anemic, and her doctor noticed other concerning markers. After the second round of tests, her cardiologist suspected that she had cancer and referred her to MD Anderson. Marie, now 71, set up an appointment at MD Anderson West Houston, which was much closer to her home in Katy than the Texas Medical Center location. After additional testing, she learned that she had stage I multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She was also considered high-risk due to the results of her bone marrow aspiration, which was done during her diagnostic testing. Approximately 15% of patients with multiple myeloma are considered to have high-risk disease, which is associated with a shorter remission and an earlier risk of relapse. The diagnosis came as a shock to Marie, who didn’t show any symptoms. Multiple myeloma patients may experience bone lesions or kidney issues as the disease progresses. “I was encouraged by my team’s knowledge and expertise. They shared with me that while there was no cure for multiple myeloma, they had instances of patients still living after 17 years,” says Marie. “I wanted to be one of those people.” Multiple myeloma treatment closer to home In May 2017, Marie’s doctors prescribed chemotherapy, which would be followed by a stem cell transplant. The chemotherapy treatments lasted for four months and included a combination of kyprolis, revlimid and dexamethasone. While Marie did not...

Why I’m committed to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, my personal life involved a lot of socializing. I’d travel at least twice a month — sometimes for work, but usually for pleasure. I’d visit with family members who live around the country, and go out to eat with friends at least a couple of nights a week here in Houston. I'm also a huge fan of the theater, and I spent a lot of time in our parks and other public spaces. Like many other people, I also enjoyed many “nonessential” services, such as haircuts and pedicures. But since the coronavirus pandemic started, I've taken social distancing to heart. How I’m putting social distancing into practice Social distancing means, whenever possible, maintaining a six-foot distance from people who are not part of our household. When that's not possible, it means wearing a mask. And in places where crowding is unavoidable, that means removing ourselves from those situations, or choosing not to engage in certain activities to begin with. For me, social distancing has meant I have not traveled outside of Houston since before the pandemic. I have not entered a restaurant. Visits with friends have taken place on the front porch only, while maintaining more than 6 feet of distance. I have not engaged in any non-essential activities, either, including salon visits and retail shopping. I have used remote methods as much as possible for all essential activities, like curbside pickup for groceries and drive-through pickup for prescriptions. I have worked mostly from home, so I can help limit the traffic on MD Anderson’s campuses and keep our staff and patients safe. And...

Why I’m committed to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, my personal life involved a lot of socializing. I’d travel at least twice a month — sometimes for work, but usually for pleasure. I’d visit with family members who live around the country, and go out to eat with friends at least a couple of nights a week here in Houston. I'm also a huge fan of the theater, and I spent a lot of time in our parks and other public spaces. Like many other people, I also enjoyed many “nonessential” services, such as haircuts and pedicures. But since the coronavirus pandemic started, I've taken social distancing to heart. How I’m putting social distancing into practice Social distancing means, whenever possible, maintaining a six-foot distance from people who are not part of our household. When that's not possible, it means wearing a mask. And in places where crowding is unavoidable, that means removing ourselves from those situations, or choosing not to engage in certain activities to begin with. For me, social distancing has meant I have not traveled outside of Houston since before the pandemic. I have not entered a restaurant. Visits with friends have taken place on the front porch only, while maintaining more than 6 feet of distance. I have not engaged in any non-essential activities, either, including salon visits and retail shopping. I have used remote methods as much as possible for all essential activities, like curbside pickup for groceries and drive-through pickup for prescriptions. I have worked mostly from home, so I can help limit the traffic on MD Anderson’s campuses and keep our staff and patients safe. And...