Best of Cancerwise 2018: Advice from our patients and caregivers

How do you explain cancer — or the effects of cancer treatment — to a young child? How do manage everyday life when one of your own children has cancer? How do you make the most of your support system when facing a cancer diagnosis yourself — even if you’re hundreds of miles away from home? These are just a few of the topics our patients and caregivers explored on our Cancerwise blog this year.

Here’s some of the best advice they shared with us in 2018.

On managing everyday life when a child has cancer

When Sara K. Parker’s daughter was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in 2016 at age 9, she rejected the assertion that she’d soon adjust to a “new normal” with cancer. But the mother of four quickly learned that taking care of herself was critical to supporting her daughter. Find out what else she learned while her daughter received treatment.

On explaining cancer to young children 

When Ashley Rivera was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in January 2017, her biggest fear was how her three young children would be affected. She and her husband, Bryan, met with a social work counselor at MD Anderson to find the right words to discuss it. Read about how they kept their explanations simple — and the conversation going — to reduce their children’s anxiety.

On making the most of your resources

In April 2013, Dr. Anatole Karpovs was a 37-year-old pediatrician with a busy practice and a hectic family life. He didn’t have time to be sick. But bloody stools, bowel changes and abdominal pains led to a colorectal cancer diagnosis — and taught him to listen to his body’s warning signs. Read what else he learned from being on the other side of the stethoscope.

On being your own best advocate

It was only in retrospect that Jane Mooney realized she should have brought someone with her for moral support on the day she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in July 2016. Find out what else the 54-year-old mother discovered about how to take good care of herself during cancer treatment.

On being an ally to those who are different

After being treated for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a rare type of throat cancer) in 1985 and salivary gland cancer in 2016, talking became a real challenge for Laura Compston. Because her speech can be hard for others to understand, sometimes people try to help her in ways that aren’t really useful. Read her suggestions on how to be an ally to a cancer patient (or anyone else) with speech challenges.

On facing an increased genetic risk of cancer

In 2016, at age 32, Tara Kirk discovered she’d inherited a genetic mutation that causes Lynch Syndrome from her mother, who’d died 26 years earlier from cancer. The news was overwhelming at first, but she has since made her peace with it. Here’s how she handles this hereditary cancer syndrome.

On seeking treatment far from home

After Indiana resident Linda Thomas was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive granular cell cancer in May 2017, she traveled 1,000 miles away for expert treatment at MD Anderson. Find out how she made her six-week stay in Houston more manageable.

On remaining positive in the face of adversity

Fabi Powell’s husband died from complications of synovial sarcoma in December 2016, just one month after they tied the knot. But Josh’s never-say-quit spirit continues to influence her — even two years later. Find out why she continues to draw inspiration from her late husband’s positive attitude.

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