Courage. Hope. Love. Faith. Strength. Wisdom. These are a few of the gifts that our cancer survivors shared with us on Cancerwise this past year.
And though each of their stories is unique, every survivor shared his or her experience with us to give hope, light and help to others facing cancer.
Here are 11 of our survivors’ most-read blog posts from this past year. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, in the midst of cancer treatment, exploring clinical trials or facing life after cancer, we hope you find something that speaks to you.
When Emily Dumler received a CAR T-cell therapy infusion in July 2015, she was only the second patient at MD Anderson and the third in the world to receive CAR-T cells to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on this clinical trial. She wasn’t sure her life would ever be normal again.
As a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Puerto Rico, Gloria Suau always tell her patients that no matter how hard or difficult a situation is, there’s always something positive that we can learn. Now, after supporting two loved ones through brain tumor diagnoses and then facing her own, she understands how true this statement is.
When Steve Hamilton thinks about the day in May 2011 when he was told nothing more could be done for him, the thought of being cancer-free for five years is pretty amazing. But that’s exactly what he’ll celebrate if his scans are clear this January.
When two different doctors gave Jenée Bobbora conflicting information about the pain and swelling in her left breast, she called MD Anderson. That’s how she learned she had inflammatory breast cancer. “Getting the right diagnosis is so important,” she tells other patients.
Bobbi Johnson-Filipiak had just given birth to her daughter when she was diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer. Though she tried many types of treatments, it’s an MD Anderson targeted therapy clinical trial that’s giving her hope and reminding her that a diagnosis is not the same thing as a prognosis.
When she started finding blood in her stool at age 19, Abigail Pardo assumed it was due to constipation. But a colonoscopy revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball in her colon. Now she tells other young adults facing cancer: “It may be dark right now, but eventually, the light will return. It does get better.”
“I’m on ‘extra’ time now, so however I can be of service to others, I want to be,” Jane Mooney says. That’s why she’s letting Robert Wolff, M.D., study her blood through our Moon Shots Program. Wolff hopes to find out why I responded so well to treatment. “I told him he could have whatever he needed from me, because knowing I might be helping other cancer patients live longer makes all the fear I experienced worth it,” Jane says.
Initially, Herman Connor told himself that his back pain was due to his mattress, but deep down, he knew something was wrong. “If I’d gone to the doctor when I first started having problems, I might have caught the cancer before it spread,” he says.
After enrolling in a targeted therapy clinical trial, Kelly Arp has gained weight, lost her hair, developed neuropathy, and battled treatment-induced high blood pressure. But today, she’s still living, teaching, making memories and embracing the motto “Stable is good.”
After Jerry McLeary’s lymphoma recurred, Michael Wang, M.D., suggested he join a clinical trial. “I trust him with my life, and I knew that he wanted what was best for me,” Jerry says. And Wang’s recommendation paid off. Within a year of starting the new treatment, Jerry’s lymphoma went back into remission.
For a long time, MD Anderson employee Matthew B. Johnson wondered if something was wrong with him that caused him to keep getting cancer. He hasn’t found a satisfying explanation yet, but he has made it his mission to talk about it.
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