News and articles


 

There are many publications and sites that write about cancer. We want you to know we don’t produce the news items you can read in this section, they belong to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. This section only intents to inform you about what is out there.

However, we are working on the first edition of the Pink Ribbon Magazine as well as in the production of featured articles that will be published here.

 

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Why I chose MD Anderson for my uterine cancer treatment

My whole career in financial services has been about creating positive experiences for other people. But I never knew how different one hospital could be from another until I came to MD Anderson for uterine cancer treatment in December 2017.

At MD Anderson, I learned how important every single person is to making a hospital great: from the parking lot attendant who greets you with a smile to the custodian who collects your trash to the server who brings you your food. Everyone at MD Anderson — no matter who it is — wants to make a difference. And that’s what makes it special.

A meaningful personal connection shaped my uterine cancer treatment

At first, I was quite resistant to the idea of seeking a second opinion at MD Anderson. My son was only 14 at the time, and I had a very busy career. I wanted to stay close to Dallas, so I could be near my family. And MD Anderson is five hours away.

But when I first made eye contact with gynecologic oncologist Dr. Michaela Onstad, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I already felt a connection to her because I’d learned through research that we both grew up in the same part of northern California.

Then, during my first office visit, she noticed I looked scared. And instead of launching right into my diagnosis and treatment plan, she took the time to sit down next to me and say, “Let’s talk about what’s going on with you and why you’re here.”

Her approach was completely different from the first oncologist I’d seen. I could tell that Dr. Onstad wasn’t just focused on my chart or my cancer; she really cared about me as a person.

Exceptional care plus genuine caring

That kind of caring is what makes MD Anderson unique. When I was staying there after my total hysterectomy, it felt like I always got the best shift, no matter which shift it was.

And to me, the best kind of doctors are the ones who take the time to get to know their patients, so they can understand how to support them most effectively. They know that building a personal relationship with people and their families is the surest way to get complete buy-in on a treatment plan.

Dr. Onstad and my radiation oncologist, Dr. Patricia Eifel, are both that kind of doctor. Not only are they experts in their fields, they’re also people who look at patients holistically — not just the physical aspects, but the mental and emotional ones, too. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.

What sets MD Anderson apart for cancer treatment

I had no idea MD Anderson was so large until I came to Houston with my husband for the first time. It was overwhelming to realize that there was a whole campus designed for people just like me, all fighting cancer.

As you may imagine, that first trip to MD Anderson was filled with anxiety. I had just been diagnosed with cancer, and I was unsure what was going to happen next. It was a tough trip. But, as my husband and I drove into the city, we started seeing billboards for MD Anderson everywhere. One just outside of downtown really touched me. It said, “Cancer: It’s all we do.” And that gave me confidence I was in the right place. Because I wanted to be somewhere that was 100% focused on me and my cancer. And MD Anderson was.

Everyone at MD Anderson is committed to making patients’ days just a little bit brighter. And they did just that for me — both during my treatment and at every visit since.

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

Mucosal melanoma survivor: After trying immunotherapy, I found success with my Plan B

When I was diagnosed with stage IV mucosal melanoma of the nasal cavity in October 2017, I got to MD Anderson as quickly as I could. My cancer was advanced and very rare, with mucosal melanoma making up only about 1% of all melanoma diagnoses a year. And I wanted to be treated at a place where they’d seen a lot of cases like mine before.

At MD Anderson, I met with medical oncologist Dr. Hussein Tawbi, radiation oncologist Dr. B. Ashleigh Guadagnolo, and head and neck surgeon and skull base specialist Dr. Shirley Su. I was excited when they recommended immunotherapy. I thought it would give me the best results.

Unfortunately, I developed side effects to immunotherapy pretty early on, so I had to stop taking it. But my doctors came up with an alternate treatment plan, and I’ve been cancer-free since March 2019. So even though immunotherapy didn’t work for me, MD Anderson did.

My mucosal melanoma symptoms and diagnosis

The only mucosal melanoma symptoms I had were a watery left eye and some nasal congestion. I thought they were from a sinus infection, so I went to a local ear, nose and throat doctor. He found a large growth on the left side of my sinuses and referred me to a head and neck surgeon.

A few days later, I had a biopsy, which showed the growth was cancer. An MRI and a PET scan revealed the tumor was about the size of a golf ball and located behind my left eye. It was already invading the surrounding tissues, including my left tear duct. That made it stage IV.

It was scary to find out I had something so rare. Before my diagnosis, I’d never even heard of mucosal melanoma.

My local surgeon offered radiation therapy. It wasn’t guaranteed to work, and I’d almost certainly lose my left eye, but it might keep the cancer stable. The only alternative was surgery, and the cancer was too big to be removed.

I got to MD Anderson as fast as I could. I knew my doctors there would have access to the most up-to-date knowledge and research, as well as clinical trials I might be able to join.

My immunotherapy side effects

At MD Anderson, my doctors reviewed my records, performed their own tests and confirmed my diagnosis. They agreed the tumor was too large to be removed right away, but suggested that a combination of immunotherapy drugs (ipilimumab and nivolumab) could shrink it. I decided to give it a try.

The side effects — a fever, back pain and neuropathy — started right after my second treatment. I stopped the immunotherapy and started receiving weekly immunoglobin infusions to restore my immune system. My arms and legs became weak, so I did occupational and physical therapy exercises to regain my strength.

Plan B for my mucosal melanoma treatment

Once I was better, I met with my doctors at MD Anderson to discuss next steps. Immunotherapy wasn’t an option anymore, so I was worried about how we’d control the tumor long-term. Scans taken in April 2018 showed it was still growing.

My doctors recommended five weeks of radiation therapy, followed by six cycles of chemotherapy and finally, surgery. I stayed with a friend in Houston during my radiation treatments and had chemotherapy infusions near my home in Mississippi. Dr. Su performed the surgery at MD Anderson on Feb. 6, 2019. The tumor had shrunk to the size of an almond and could be taken out entirely through my nose with minimally invasive surgery.

Cancer-free after mucosal melanoma treatment

I lost my hair and still have a little neuropathy, but mostly, my life is back to normal now. I come to MD Anderson every three months for check-ups. If my scans are clear after the next one, I’m hoping they’ll get bumped back to once every six months.

No matter how often I have to come back to Houston, though, I am so grateful to my doctors and nurses at MD Anderson. The care I receive from them is truly exceptional, and their team approach really stands out.

When their first plan didn’t work, they came up with another one that did. And it took me from having a tumor so large it was considered inoperable to having one so small it could be removed with outpatient surgery. I’ve been cancer-free ever since.

I truly believe I am a walking, talking miracle. So, don’t give up, no matter how serious your diagnosis is. There is hope. And every day, month or year you survive, there are new advancements, discoveries and options for treatment.

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

10-year survivor: My triple-negative breast cancer care led me to work at MD Anderson

I wasn’t working at MD Anderson yet when I learned that I had triple-negative breast cancer in July 2009. But after hearing about two family members’ positive experiences there and then becoming a patient myself, I really, really wanted to.

The thing that drew me in most was MD Anderson’s Core Values: Caring, Integrity and Discovery. I saw them listed everywhere at MD Anderson, particularly in the elevators. They explained the importance of treating everyone with courtesy, kindness and respect. And that’s exactly what I got as a patient in MD Anderson’s Nellie B. Connally Breast Center.

Why I came to MD Anderson

It quickly became clear to me what sets MD Anderson apart.

The first oncologist I’d seen had really scared me. She told me that if my cancer was at stage I or II, it was treatable; if it was at stage III, it might be treatable; and if it was already at stage IV, the best she could do was “keep me comfortable.”

But I didn’t want to be kept comfortable. And I wasn’t going to just sit back and wait to die. Based on what I knew about MD Anderson from my family, that was, without a doubt, where I would go. My life depended on it.

My cousin referred me to her radiation oncologist, Dr. Gregory Chronowski. He works at MD Anderson West Houston, which was at a different location at the time. I called for an appointment, and a last-minute cancellation allowed me to see him the very next day. He did such a thorough exam that I felt totally confident in my decision to be treated at MD Anderson. I knew I was in good hands.

My triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis

Since Dr. Chronowski focuses on radiation therapy, he referred me to some of his colleagues at MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center campus to lay out my treatment plan. There, I met with medical oncologist Dr. Daniel Booser, surgical oncologist Dr. Kelly Hunt and plastic surgeon Dr. Donald Baumann.

After reviewing my records and running more tests, they confirmed my breast cancer diagnosis. Dr. Booser said it was stage II and triple-negative. That meant it lacked the three most common receptors doctors usually target to treat breast cancer. He suggested chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiation therapy. I’d start with a chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel (Taxol) for 12 weeks, then move on to stronger drugs if needed.

My triple-negative breast cancer treatment

After a few weeks, it became clear that the chemotherapy wasn’t working. The lump in my right breast was getting bigger. I stopped taking Taxol and began getting an infusion every three weeks of a chemotherapy combination called “FAC,” which stands for flouraurasil, doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide.

Happily, my cancer responded well to those drugs. Just three weeks after my first dose, the tumor had shrunk by 50%. After the second dose, Dr. Booser could hardly measure it. After the sixth dose, I had surgery.

I was so thankful to find that I did not need a full mastectomy. Instead, Dr. Hunt performed a segmental mastectomy, removing a golf-ball-sized portion of my breast on Jan. 15, 2010. Dr. Baumann rebuilt the area with muscle and tissue taken from behind one of my shoulder blades. He made the incisions blend in so beautifully that I can still wear a swimsuit and not see the scars.

I began radiation therapy about two months later at MD Anderson West Houston, since it’s close to my home. And I’ve shown no evidence of disease since then.

Paying it forward to help other cancer patients

Everything about my treatment at MD Anderson felt well-organized and smoothly done. And I just loved the way everyone was focused on delivering care with courtesy and kindness. That’s what made me so eager to work there.

I tried to get a job there for years after that, but no dental hygienist positions were available. When one finally opened up in late 2017, I jumped at the chance to join the team.

Much to my delight, I was hired. Now, I get to provide the same courtesy and kindness that initially attracted me to MD Anderson to other patients. As a 10-year breast cancer survivor, I also give them hope. So this has been a real gift — to me and to them.

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

10-year survivor: My triple-negative breast cancer care led me to work at MD Anderson

I wasn’t working at MD Anderson yet when I learned that I had triple-negative breast cancer in July 2009. But after hearing about two family members’ positive experiences there and then becoming a patient myself, I really, really wanted to.

The thing that drew me in most was MD Anderson’s Core Values: Caring, Integrity and Discovery. I saw them listed everywhere at MD Anderson, particularly in the elevators. They explained the importance of treating everyone with courtesy, kindness and respect. And that’s exactly what I got as a patient in MD Anderson’s Nellie B. Connally Breast Center.

Why I came to MD Anderson

It quickly became clear to me what sets MD Anderson apart.

The first oncologist I’d seen had really scared me. She told me that if my cancer was at stage I or II, it was treatable; if it was at stage III, it might be treatable; and if it was already at stage IV, the best she could do was “keep me comfortable.”

But I didn’t want to be kept comfortable. And I wasn’t going to just sit back and wait to die. Based on what I knew about MD Anderson from my family, that was, without a doubt, where I would go. My life depended on it.

My cousin referred me to her radiation oncologist, Dr. Gregory Chronowski. He works at MD Anderson West Houston, which was at a different location at the time. I called for an appointment, and a last-minute cancellation allowed me to see him the very next day. He did such a thorough exam that I felt totally confident in my decision to be treated at MD Anderson. I knew I was in good hands.

My triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis

Since Dr. Chronowski focuses on radiation therapy, he referred me to some of his colleagues at MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center campus to lay out my treatment plan. There, I met with medical oncologist Dr. Daniel Booser, surgical oncologist Dr. Kelly Hunt and plastic surgeon Dr. Donald Baumann.

After reviewing my records and running more tests, they confirmed my breast cancer diagnosis. Dr. Booser said it was stage II and triple-negative. That meant it lacked the three most common receptors doctors usually target to treat breast cancer. He suggested chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiation therapy. I’d start with a chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel (Taxol) for 12 weeks, then move on to stronger drugs if needed.

My triple-negative breast cancer treatment

After a few weeks, it became clear that the chemotherapy wasn’t working. The lump in my right breast was getting bigger. I stopped taking Taxol and began getting an infusion every three weeks of a chemotherapy combination called “FAC,” which stands for flouraurasil, doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide.

Happily, my cancer responded well to those drugs. Just three weeks after my first dose, the tumor had shrunk by 50%. After the second dose, Dr. Booser could hardly measure it. After the sixth dose, I had surgery.

I was so thankful to find that I did not need a full mastectomy. Instead, Dr. Hunt performed a segmental mastectomy, removing a golf-ball-sized portion of my breast on Jan. 15, 2010. Dr. Baumann rebuilt the area with muscle and tissue taken from behind one of my shoulder blades. He made the incisions blend in so beautifully that I can still wear a swimsuit and not see the scars.

I began radiation therapy about two months later at MD Anderson West Houston, since it’s close to my home. And I’ve shown no evidence of disease since then.

Paying it forward to help other cancer patients

Everything about my treatment at MD Anderson felt well-organized and smoothly done. And I just loved the way everyone was focused on delivering care with courtesy and kindness. That’s what made me so eager to work there.

I tried to get a job there for years after that, but no dental hygienist positions were available. When one finally opened up in late 2017, I jumped at the chance to join the team.

Much to my delight, I was hired. Now, I get to provide the same courtesy and kindness that initially attracted me to MD Anderson to other patients. As a 10-year breast cancer survivor, I also give them hope. So this has been a real gift — to me and to them.

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

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