Siblings help each other through sarcoma treatment during COVID-19 pandemic

When Ewing’s sarcoma survivor Erica Nowell learned that her older brother, Chris Plummer, had cancer earlier this year, she was shocked. But when she found out he’d been diagnosed with myxoid liposarcoma — a subtype of sarcoma — she was stunned. “As a nurse practitioner at MD Anderson West Houston, I went through the motions of being empathetic and guiding him through next steps,” says Erica. “But as a sister, it took me several days to grasp the fact that my only sibling was about to embark on the same journey I was on. I had to cry about it a little bit before I could get down to business.” Chris was pretty shaken up by his sarcoma diagnosis, too. “To say it came as a shock would be a massive understatement,” he says. “It’s been absolutely surreal.” No question about where to be treated The first thing Erica did was help Chris get an appointment with the specialists at MD Anderson’s Sarcoma Center. “In my mind, there was never a question about where my brother would be treated,” she says. “MD Anderson saved my life as a teenager, and it’s helping me face a relapse now. So, it was reassuring to know he’d be in the same good hands.” Chris ended up being assigned to the same doctors who are treating his sister: sarcoma specialist Robert Benjamin, M.D. (now mostly retired), radiation oncologist Ashleigh Guadagnolo M.D., and sarcoma surgeon Christina Roland, M.D. “Knowing my care team is the same one that’s been treating her dramatically eased my fears,” Chris says. Unusual dual sarcoma diagnoses call for genetic testing...