Sticking to an exercise routine while helping a loved one
treatment can be a challenge. That's especially true when you're spending a
lot of time at the hospital or clinic.
But you don't have to train for a 5K or go to the gym to burn
calories and enjoy the benefits
of exercise. Many things you do while you're at MD Anderson count as
"Any time you're moving around counts," says Carol Harrison,
physiology technologist at MD Anderson.
How to achieve the
benefits of exercise
minutes of daily moderate physical activity can reduce your risk for cancer
and other diseases. Exercise also can help lower
fatigue and depression.
Continue reading How caregivers can get exercise at MD Anderson .
By Ronnie Pace
There are approximately 2,200 men in the United States who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and I am one of them.
Until my diagnosis, I did not know men were susceptible to breast cancer. Because the number of women with breast cancer is far higher than the number of men, there is little mention of male breast cancer in the media.
My male breast cancer diagnosis
My tumor was discovered by accident. I got a CT scan for a cough, but the CT scan indicated a tumor located in my right breast.
With a 99% probability that the tumor was benign, I did not see cause for alarm. In fact, I did not tell my wife for several weeks because I didn't want to cause her unnecessary worry. It was not until I was scheduled for a core biopsy that I told her. In retrospect, I made a bad choice.
The biopsy results were conclusive: I had a small, malignant tumor in my right breast.
Continue reading My male breast cancer story.
By Jennifer Davis
If my doctors at MD Anderson had told me that I would be standing on top of Camelback Mountain in Arizona just 10 months after my stem cell transplant, I would have called them crazy.
But on March 29, 2015, exactly 321 days after my transplant, I did exactly that, reaching the summit of Camelback with my husband and a childhood friend.
The full meaning of this didn't hit me until I saw the tears in my husband's eyes. During my multiple myeloma journey, I couldn't have even imagined something of this magnitude.
My multiple myeloma diagnosis
My battle with multiple myeloma began before I even realized it.
My back started to hurt in March 2013, but I didn't know why. I saw several doctors, each of whom prescribed muscle relaxers and painkillers.
Continue reading Broken back to Camelback: Survival from a different point of view.
By Lynn Randolph
Every Tuesday afternoon for the last seven years, I've visited MD Anderson to help cancer patients and families in the palliative care unit heal through art. I do this as an artist-in-residence with a non-profit organization called COLLAGE: The Art For Cancer Network.
Both my husband and my brother were patients at MD Anderson. When I was asked to become an artist-in-residence at the hospital, I was reluctant. My husband's death was the most painful experience of my life. Then I thought maybe I could help others going through what I had.
Here is an account of one typical visit.
I knocked on the door of the hospital room and I heard a deep voice say, "Come in." The room was dark and full of sadness. A young man sat on the far side of the bed holding his mother's hand and weeping. His father -- her husband -- stood tall on the side near me. His red-rimmed eyes and stoic countenance were heart-breaking. I told them why I'd interrupted them. I waited to be dismissed, but they invited me in. I sat down and thought, "What can I do? They have formed a sacred circle of love around her, and now does not seem like a good time to interfere."
Intuitively, I blurted out, "Is there anything I can draw for you?"
"Can you draw some mourning doves?" the husband asked.
I pulled a pencil out of my bag of supplies and one of the handmade paper sketchbooks I designed for just this purpose. I drew two mourning doves suspended in flight and handed the drawing to him. "Oh," he said, and clasped it to his body. He shared the drawing with his son, and they both thanked me.
I got up and left, returning them to their circle of love with an image of holy spirits.
Continue reading Sacred circles and holy images: Helping cancer patients and caregivers heal through art.
The minutes, days and weeks after you're diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming, scary and lonely.
But, as cancer patients and survivors recently shared in our Facebook community, you can get through this time.
Here's their advice for newly diagnosed cancer patients.
- Don't dwell on statistics. This is your experience, and no two people, cancer diagnoses or experiences are exactly alike.
- Knowledge is power. Research your disease and treatment options. Ask questions. Take notes when you meet with your doctor. This will help you feel more at peace with your decisions.
- Be your own advocate. You know your body and your wishes for treatment better than anyone else, so speak up if something doesn't seem right.
- Don't rush into treatment. Where you go first for treatment matters. The decisions you make now can affect your treatment options and prognosis down the road. So, take time to choose a cancer center, and evaluate your treatment options. Get a second opinion if you're not happy with the options you're given.
Continue reading 16 things cancer patients and survivors want newly diagnosed patients to know.
By Karen Fore
As a volunteer with CanCare and myCancerConnection, MD Anderson's one-on-one program that connects cancer patients and caregivers with others who have been there, I talk to a lot of other multiple myeloma patients. Most ask about the stem cell transplant process and my experience.
Here's what I tell them.
What to know about autologous stem cell transplants
A transplant infuses health cells -- also known as stem cells -- into a cancer patient's body to replace damaged cells.
Stem cells for transplants can come from three sources. I had an autologous stem cell transplant, which means cells from my own bone marrow were used. Some people undergo an allogeneic transplant, which means they receive stem cells from a donor. Some patients receive umbilical cord blood instead. Not all patients are eligible for a stem cell transplant.
To help kill some of the cancerous cells and get the body ready to accept the new stem cells, most patients need very strong chemotherapy. For me, this was the strongest chemo I had, and the idea was daunting.
Continue reading Autologous stem cell transplant survivor: What to expect.
When a friend or loved one receives a cancer diagnosis, it's important to be there and show you care. But finding the right words can be hard.
What can you say that won't scare or upset your friend or loved one? What can you say that will give them the hope and strength they need to confront cancer?
We recently asked the cancer patients, survivors and caregivers in our Facebook community to share the best things to say to someone with cancer.
Here's what they recommend.
Continue reading What to say to someone with cancer.
By Judith Miller
I always tell women to get their regular mammograms. That's how doctors spotted my lung cancer.
A chance lung cancer diagnosis
Because I have a history of dense breast tissue, I know my annual mammogram will always show suspicious areas. I also know that each time my primary care physician will send me for further testing to be certain that these suspicious areas are not harboring cancer cells.
This is what happened early in July 2012, and sure enough, an MRI confirmed that the areas in question were scar tissue.
However, after sharing this good news, the breast cancer specialist asked: "Has anyone ever told you that you have a malignant tumor on your upper right lung?"
At first, I thought that was a strange question. I would have certainly addressed such an announcement immediately.
Continue reading Gratitude for mammograms and stereotactic ablative radiosurgery.
By Karen Fore
I have an iron-clad immune system -- or so I thought. I was hardly ever sick.
That is, until 2009 and 2010, when I got the flu. I blamed not getting my flu shot. I also was unusually busy at work and blamed my fatigue, weight loss and fuzzy brain on stress. After having a fever for no apparent reason, I went to an urgent care clinic.
Given my recent weight loss and fatigue, the doctor decided to do some bloodwork. The results showed I was significantly anemic, so he decided to do more blood work. After two weeks of connecting the dots with other lab tests, he told me to come to his office -- and to bring someone with me.
That's when I learned a new term - multiple myeloma. My doctor explained that this was a form of blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow. I hadn't seen that coming!
I set out to find someone who specialized in treating multiple myeloma. After interviewing doctors at another hospital and MD Anderson, I chose MD Anderson. The doctor I'd met with at MD Anderson was one of the world's premier multiple myeloma oncologists, so I knew I'd be in the best hands. Plus, my sister had started cancer treatment at MD Anderson two years earlier, so I knew MD Anderson well.
My multiple myeloma treatment
I started chemotherapy within a week of my first appointment at MD Anderson. When that didn't work, we tried another treatment.
Continue reading Winning my battle against multiple myeloma.
By Anton Blender
In 2003, Bethany Brown found out she'd gotten an interview
for nursing school. She tried calling her father to share the good news, but he
didn't answer. When she finally got ahold of him, Bethany gave her father a
hard time for not answering earlier.
That's when he told her why he'd been reluctant to take her
call: her biopsy results had come back. She had cancer -- specifically, sarcoma.
Fear and determination
in the face of sarcoma
Looking back 12 years later, Bethany recalls her first reaction was "fear,
absolute fear." She was only 20 at the time and remembers crying louder than
she'd ever cried before -- so loud that a neighbor heard her through the wall
and came to check on her.
Continue reading Sarcoma survivor: "Don't wait to live".
By Gillian Kruse
I didn't feel ill when I was diagnosed with acute
myeloid leukemia (AML). The only reason I went to the doctor in the first
place was because I'd finally started a full-time job with benefits after
graduating from college, and I figured I'd take advantage of my health
insurance and get a physical exam for the first time in years.
The actual physical was what you'd expect and took hardly
any time at all. I gave a vial of blood for the routine bloodwork and met up
with a friend afterwards to stuff my face with unlimited soup, salad and
breadsticks after fasting all morning. I went home with generic instructions to
not eat too much junk food and try and exercise a bit every day -- basically the
same things every doctor tells every patient.
My unexpected AML
I did not expect to get a call from my doctor's office in the middle of
holiday shopping with my in-laws. "Your white blood cell count is high, though
it can go up if you're fighting off an infection," the nurse told me. She asked
if I was feeling OK. I felt normal, so she told me to come back and have my
blood drawn again. Maybe the lab had made a mistake.
They hadn't. Within a few days, I got another call from my primary
care physician. She'd put in a referral for me to see one of the hematologists
at her clinic.
Continue reading AML survivor: Don't put off your physical exam.
By Mariana Torrado
No one expects to hear
she has breast cancer two months after turning 30. I didn't.
I danced flamenco,
exercised frequently, was neither overweight nor a smoker -- and I was only 30!
How could this happen to me?
My unexpected breast cancer diagnosis
After feeling a second
of pain -- a small pinch -- in my left breast, I noticed a large bump. I was in
shock, scared. I reached out to my OB-GYN right away.
A mammogram, an
ultrasound and a biopsy later, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
I was in shock. I had two
cousins (sisters) with breast cancer in their 30s, an aunt with breast cancer,
a cousin who died from brain cancer, and two cousins and an uncle with melanoma. But I'd never expected to have cancer, not
Continue reading Facing a BRCA1 mutation and breast cancer at age 30.