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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My colorectal cancer treatment: How I’m coping

I was raised believing that everything happens for a reason, and that’s exactly how I’ve chosen to approach my treatment for colorectal cancer.

I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in the November 2012 after I started experiencing pain in my stomach. At first, I thought I might’ve become lactose intolerant, but when the pain persisted, I went to the doctor. 

A stool test revealed blood, so my doctor insisted I undergo a colonoscopy. Even though I was 67 at the time, I’d never done the procedure before because I wasn’t aware of the colorectal cancer screening guidelines. Sure enough, my colonoscopy confirmed I had cancer.

Beginning my colorectal cancer treatment

I immediately started chemotherapy near my East Texas home, and then at my doctor’s recommendation, I came to MD Anderson in June 2013 for a partial colectomy to remove part of my colon. 

The surgery successfully removed all but a tiny spot of my cancer. I then underwent more chemotherapy to treat the remaining cancer. Thankfully, I was given the option of receiving chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Douglas Nelson at MD Anderson in The Woodlands, which cut the commute from my East Texas home by more than an hour. 

I received the chemo combination FOLRIFI/Bevacizumab from July-October 2014 and then 5-FU/Bevacizumab, a type of maintenance chemo, from October 2014-April 2015. My scans showed that my cancerous spot was still there, but it was small enough that I got by with just observation for 4 months. But when the spot started growing after 4 months, Dr. Nelson said I had to resume treatment.

Coping with setbacks during my cancer treatment

I was disappointed, but from the beginning, I’d told myself that I’d do whatever it takes to reach the end. This time, that meant undergoing radiation therapy. Under the care of Dr. Marc Delclos, I received 26 radiation treatments in fall 2015. 

Unfortunately, my cancer proved to be more stubborn than anyone expected. As a result, Dr. Nelson put me on back on 5-FU/Bevacizumab for another month. I was stable again for nearly a year, but scans in October 2016 showed the cancer had spread, so I had to resume chemotherapy.

It was pretty aggravating to not see an end to treatment in sight. But instead of focusing on this setback, I reminded myself that I’m still alive and I’ve been blessed with yet another opportunity to fight back. 

I’m glad I chose to stay positive because it’s helped me better cope with all the other hurdles I’ve faced. 

Faith has helped me through colorectal cancer treatment

In February 2014, my diagnostic scans revealed suspicious activity outside of the area where I’d previously received radiation therapy. As a result, I underwent another two weeks of radiation. 

Afterwards, I started taking Xeloda-Avastin, a type of maintenance chemotherapy. I remained on it until March 2018, when I had to undergo 26 rounds of radiation therapy when another mass was discovered on my tailbone. Now back to receiving biweekly Xeloda-Avastin infusions. 

I don’t know how long I’ll stay on this maintenance chemotherapy, or what will happen next. But even with all of the setbacks I’ve faced, I still feel like I’m going to be around awhile because of the care I’ve received at MD Anderson. My faith is where it needs to be, and I know that this is all happening for a reason.

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

 

Volunteer: How I’m helping others end cancer

One early Friday morning in August 2017, my wife Sandra and I showed up to MD Anderson in Katy for her very first day of breast cancer treatment. Needless to say, this was not one of our better days.

Her oncologist, Dr. Nikesh Jasani, had recommended that she start chemotherapy to shrink the tumor in her right breast before surgery. We were both rife with apprehension as we sat in the clinic waiting for her name to be called so she could undergo something we knew absolutely nothing about.

We spotted a gentleman who appeared so upbeat and jovial, as if he did not have a worry in the world. He sat right next to us and started a conversation. Within minutes, the three of us were laughing and talking as if we had known each other for years. It turns out that this gentleman, Browning “Brownie” Sinclair, is an MD Anderson volunteer.

Brownie explained to Sandra and me about his volunteer duties, and I said, “Sounds like something I can do!” Without hesitation, he whipped out a business card for MD Anderson’s Volunteer Services and Merchandising department. Within a couple of days, I applied for a volunteer position.

Helping others as we’ve been helped

Now I spend one day a week doing for others what Brownie has done for Sandra and me. I’m a prostate cancer survivor myself, so I’m well aware of the challenges of cancer. However, volunteering opened my eyes even wider. It’s helped me realize that even though our journeys are unique, we often share the same struggles.

As a volunteer, I enjoy sharing my experiences as both a survivor and caregiver with others, and I like to offer advice on how to handle the challenges in both roles. Sometimes, there are patients who are despondent, and they just need a good laugh or a good, strong and encouraging conversation. That happens to be one of my strong points. I love talking with people, especially if I can put a smile on their faces.

Dedicating more time to a special place

In my short time volunteering, I’ve witnessed first-hand the amazing care that MD Anderson’s staff delivers. The nurses and doctors treat their patients as if they’re close family members. They have a passion for what they do, and they will do everything to see their patients overcome cancer. That is special.

I’m hoping that once my wife completes her breast cancer treatment, I’ll be able to dedicate a second weekday to MD Anderson’s mission. I may not get compensated monetarily for my duties here, but I receive payment in so many other ways. One of them is watching patients ring the bell after their final treatment — that fills my heart with indescribable joy. Every time I see a patient win the fight, I think of MD Anderson’s logo and envision that red line being drawn through cancer’s name. I just love it.

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

How to find the right cancer support group for you

A cancer support group is a safe place to share your experiences and connect with others facing the same challenges. It gives you the space to connect with others dealing with cancer, talk openly about your feelings, receive practical advice, share resources and contacts, better understand and be able to describe your experience and develop coping skills. 

Studies have shown that support groups can reduce isolation, anxiety and stress. They can also improve mood, self-image and the ability to cope.

With all of these benefits, you’d think that attending a cancer support group would be a no-brainer. But some people find the idea a little intimidating. And that’s totally normal. It can be nerve-wracking to put yourself in new situations, introduce yourself to new people and especially to face experiences you haven’t been able to process yet.

Decide what you’re looking for in a cancer support group

To get the most out of a cancer support group, it’s important to find the right one for you. Here are a few questions to answer before attending one:

  • What type of support are you looking for? Some support groups are more social in nature. Their purpose is to connect people with shared experiences in a casual environment. Other support groups are more talk-therapy based, and focus on helping group members process their experiences.
  • Who are you wanting to get support from? Some support groups are geared towards patients and/or caregivers dealing with a specific diagnosis, while others are open to all diagnoses. There are also support groups that are for both patients and caregivers, patients only, caregivers only, young adults, kids of patients and patients with metastatic cancer.
  • What setting works best for you? Many hospitals and cities offer in-person support groups, but not all of them do. If meeting in person isn’t an option for you, consider an online group. Those may be in the form of a message board, a chat room or even a phone app. You may even consider joining myCancerConnection, MD Anderson’s one-on-one support program for patients and caregivers.
  • If you are being treated away from home, what location are you most likely to attend a group in? If you spend most of your time at home, it might be best to find a group close to where you live. If you spend most of your time in Houston or another city for treatment, it might be more convenient to find a group close to that city or hospital.

How to find a support group

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, here are a few ways to find a cancer support group:

  • Ask your social work counselor. All MD Anderson patients have an assigned social work counselor who can help with all sorts of things, including selecting a support group. In fact, we social work counselors facilitate many of our support groups. If you’ve never met with your MD Anderson social work counselor before, ask someone on your care team to put you in touch.
  • Ask around. Sometimes other patients and caregivers can be especially helpful when it comes to finding support groups and other valuable resources.

Be open-minded

Before you attend your first — or even second or third – cancer support group session, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Get the scoop from the facilitator. If possible, contact the group facilitator in advance to ask any questions and get a better understanding of how group works. Knowing what to expect will help you feel more comfortable and prepared.
  • Attend the same group at least three times. Every group is different and every group meeting is different, so go to the group at least three times before you decide it isn’t a good fit. You might be surprised at how the group grows on you over time.
  • Keep an open mind. The other group members may be different from you, and sometimes that’s actually a really good thing. The group may really need your perspective, experience, knowledge, etc. and you could really benefit from theirs. Everyone is unique and has a unique contribution.
  • Don’t be afraid to try again. If the first group isn’t a good fit for you, try another one! Every group is so different, so it’s important to keep trying until you find one that provides the support and comfort you seek.

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

Immunotherapy clinical trial and surgery get kidney cancer survivor back in the game

Last year, Primus Moore was among seven referees selected to officiate Oklahoma’s all-state high school football games.

“It’s inspiring for an 18-year-old kid to see that you’re 70 years old and you’re keeping up with them,” he says.

For Primus, being able to keep up with high school athletes was an even bigger deal because he was undergoing kidney cancer treatment at the time.

After his diagnosis in 2014, he had a total nephrectomy to remove his left kidney. But after he saw a doctor about an ankle injury he suffered while refereeing a high school football game a year and half later, Primus learned the cancer had spread to  his right leg and ankle bones.

“I had mixed emotions. I knew that things could go either good or bad,” he recalls.

The first oncologist Primus saw in Oklahoma said amputation was his only option. The second recommended he come to MD Anderson.

Immunotherapy clinical trial offers hope

Hoping to save his leg, Primus and his wife, Veronica, drove to Houston to see Jianjun Gao, M.D., who told Primus about a clinical trial studying immunotherapy’s effectiveness in treating metastatic kidney cancer and preventing its recurrence. As part of the trial, he’d receive three cycles of the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab, followed by surgery to get rid of the tumors in his leg, and then resume the immunotherapy treatments.

“I’ve been an educator for over 40 years. Teaching and learning has been in my system, and if I could be of any help for future patients, then that is my goal,” he says of his decision to join the trial.

Surgery preserves kidney cancer patient’s mobility

At MD Anderson, Primus also met with orthopedic surgeon Justin Bird, M.D., and reconstructive surgeon Jesse Selber, M.D., to discuss his case.

“When I met with Dr. Bird, he asked me what my plans were. I told him that I wanted to go back on the football field, and he said, ‘I think I could make it happen,’” Primus recalls. “Then Dr. Selber came up with a plan, and they all worked together to pull it off.”

After Primus had completed his initial cycles of immunotherapy, he underwent surgery on Feb. 2, 2016.

During the 12-hour procedure, Bird removed Primus’ tumor  and replaced the damaged bone with a piece of metal. Selber performed a flap procedure, during which he removed skin, tissue and blood vessels from the upper part of Primus’ leg and relocated them to his ankle to preserve his mobility.

Primus was able to use a walker just 10 days after his surgery. With time and a little practice, he managed to navigate staircases, get in and out of cars, and eventually, walk all by himself.

“For me, recovery was fine. The toughest part was staying in the hospital for 14 days,” Primus says.

Returning to the football field after kidney cancer treatment

By the start of football season, Primus was back on the field.

 “I’m not as fast as I used to be, but I can still run up and down the field,” he says. “It’s been 2 or 3 years, and everything is still getting stronger.”

Until he completed his maintenance immunotherapy treatment this past March, Primus continued to return to MD Anderson every two weeks. So far, none of his tumors have returned.

“Dr. Gao says I’m a star pupil. I had some reaction to the thyroid but no other side effects from the immunotherapy,” he says. “In fact, I felt well enough to drive myself back to Oklahoma after my infusions.”

Looking forward to the next chapter

When Primus completed his clinical trial, the occasion was bittersweet.

“You hope for that day to come, but you feel like you’re going to lose a part of your family,” he says. “The doctors, the clinical nurses, the research nurses – all of the folks – you become connected, and there’s a love there for everybody. There’s a lot of friends that I won’t see like I used to anymore. You build a bond, a relationship, so it’s hard to watch it disappear.”

Still, Primus is looking forward to the next chapter of his life, which he hopes includes a lot more time for family and football.

“Refereeing is something I love to do,” he says. “I want to continue to do it as long as I can.”

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

 

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