Best of Cancerwise 2017: Advice from our patients and caregivers

If you — or your child — were diagnosed with cancer, what would you
do? How would you handle the treatments and the side effects? How would you keep your spirits
up? These are just a few of the topics our patients and caregivers
discussed on our Cancerwise blog this year.

Here’s some of the best advice they shared in 2017:

On making treatment decisions

When 8-year-old Elise Robinson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, she
faced a tough choice: let doctors amputate her right leg above the
knee, replace her diseased bone with an implant, or perform a
mobility-preserving procedure called a “rotationplasty,” that would
turn her right ankle into a functional knee joint. Read how Elise’s mother helped her make that decision.

On approaching cancer treatment with a sense of humor

Being treated for anal cancer provided Pam Patterson with many
awkward and embarrassing moments to live through. But whether
recovering from “accidents,” adjusting to unexpectedly intimate
equipment, or enduring uncomfortable positions during treatment, she
approached it all with laughter and levity. See how else Pam coped with her experience.

On finding meaning in life after a loved one’s diagnosis

When Audrie Luna’s father was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell
carcinoma in July 2015, she struggled to reconcile what she imagined
her life would be like with what it actually was. But by creating new
rituals to enjoy with her father, she learned to maintain a positive
outlook. Here are other ways Audrie found meaning.

On managing the urge to ‘hurry’ after a cancer diagnosis

As celebrity chef Hans Rueffert learned when he was diagnosed with
stomach cancer, many patients feel a sense of urgency when they first
arrive at MD Anderson. But slowing down helped him to savor life’s
little surprises while deciding on the perfect treatment plan with his
doctors. Learn what else Hans did to make his journey less stressful.

On distracting yourself during cancer treatment

Not every testicular cancer patient throws a party after being
diagnosed, but that’s precisely what James Coulson Jr. did. Realizing
he would lose his hair eventually due to chemotherapy, he “made a
thing out of it” and invited friends and family over to help shave his
head. See what else James did to distract himself.

On managing cancer treatment side effects

MD Anderson radiologist Chitra Viswanathan, M.D., learned firsthand
about many of the side effects her patients experienced, after she was
diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38. Find out what she did to manage side effects.

On supporting a child with cancer

When Brian Billeck’s son Damon was diagnosed with cancer at age 9,
he quickly discovered that including the youngster in all the
decision-making meetings gave his son peace of mind. See what else Brian did to support his son.

On making a stem cell transplant easier

While recovering from a stem cell transplant, multiple myeloma
survivor Gary Rudman always found the nights to be the hardest.
Staying connected to people through the internet was one strategy that
helped him cope. Learn what else Gary did to combat his loneliness
and isolation.

On maintaining caregivers’ quality of life

Singer Kimmie Rhodes had been married to legendary music producer
Joe Gracey for 25 years when his esophageal cancer returned in 2008.
She maintained the couple’s quality of life by planning activities
around town — both solo and together — while her husband was receiving
treatment here. Learn what else Kimmie did to maintain her quality
of life.

On keeping a positive attitude

An acute myeloid leukemia diagnosis in February 2011 taught college
student Jasmine Ross that not everything in life always goes according
to plan. Finding something to be grateful for every day helped her
maintain a positive attitude while undergoing treatment. Read more about what inspired Jasmine to keep going.

On living a worry-free life after cancer

As a survivor of both lung and breast cancers, Dian Snowden knows
how to manage fear. One of the most effective strategies she’s found
to prevent anxiety is “waiting to worry.” Find out what other tools worked well for Dian.

Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by
calling 1-877-632-6789.