By Eric Kleiman
"Cancer? What do you mean I have cancer? I feel fine."
This is what I said to myself when I woke up the first couple of mornings after I was diagnosed with liver cancer.
However, I quickly decided that I was going to get through this by controlling the only thing I could control -- my attitude. I couldn't control the blood tests, doctor appointments, the scans, the blood tests, the surgery, the blood tests, the exams and did I mention the blood tests?
So, I decided that I was NOT sick. I just had cancer. Yes, it was liver cancer. Yes, it was caught early during a routine scan after a bout of kidney stones, and yes, I was better off than some and worse off than others. But I would get through this, and I would do it with the help of my MD Anderson family.
through liver cancer treatment
As I've learned, the thing that means the most when going through cancer is family. For me, that meant not just my wife, kids, siblings and parents, but also my MD Anderson family.
My wife and I came to MD Anderson for a second opinion just about 12 months ago. I remember the first time we stepped in the doors at MD Anderson. Oh my, so many people with those little white wristbands you get every time you come in for any type of appointment. It was unnerving, yet calming. My first impression when I saw all of the patients was that I was not alone. To me, that little wristband was a badge of honor.
By Mariana Torrado
Genetic testing came up during my first visit to MD Anderson. Why? Because I was only 30 when I received my breast cancer diagnosis, and several of my cousins were diagnosed with cancer in their 30s. In fact, my oncologist, Vicente Valero, M.D., also is my cousin's doctor. He recognized that breast cancer runs in our family.
Looking back, I'm thankful Dr. Valero suggested I see a genetic counselor and get genetic testing. But at the time, I didn't even know what a genetic counselor was.
I had so many questions: What is a BRCA mutation? Did this cause my cancer? Would I pass it along to my children? Would a BRCA mutation make me more likely to develop other cancers?
My first meeting with
the genetic counselor
The first meeting with my genetic counselor was overwhelming. She asked about my ancestry, personal medical history and all of my family's cancer history, starting from my grandparents all the way down to my cousins.
By Sarah Cook
One strategy that can help cope with cancer is clinical hypnosis, which is typically used as a part of counseling.
If you only know about hypnosis from stage shows or TV entertainment, you might be hesitant to try it. But when done with a trained mental health professional, hypnosis has many benefits for cancer patients. It's been shown to help reduce anxiety, enhance coping and even reduce your perception of pain. Think of it as another tool for your toolkit.
Hypnosis can help you feel better
mentally and emotionally
A common misconception about hypnosis is that it leaves you in a state where you aren't in control of yourself. But actually, the opposite is true. Hypnosis requires a lot of focus and concentration. This helps you maintain better control of yourself and your emotions.
By Loretta Preston
I started smoking when I was 13 or 14 years old, and after 40 years I never thought I would be someone who quit. Even after the first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I still didn't stop smoking. I was overwhelmed and felt my life was coming to an end. I couldn't deal with that and trying to quit.
When I was later diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I realized I had to make a change. I wanted to be the one in control of the rest of my life, not cancer. I knew cancer could be the beginning of a new life for me. I also knew I had to quit smoking to really start living. I knew that I would never be able to heal as well if I didn't clean out my body and get rid of the cigarettes. However, I also knew that I needed help.
Success in MD
Anderson's Tobacco Treatment Program
When I told my doctor about my decision, she referred me to MD Anderson's Tobacco Treatment Program, which provides tobacco cessation counseling and support to patients and employees.
If I had not gone into the program, I would still be smoking today. I'd previously tried to quit four or five times on my own with the gum and the patches, but nothing helped. When I tried the program for the first time, I quit smoking.
The program's counselors were even there for me a few years later when I stumbled and started smoking again. I went right back into the program and was able to quit a second time.
By Paula Johnson
At age 64, one would expect to have some hearing loss, but mine seemed to be failing faster than most.
A year earlier, I had obtained my third-degree black belt and World Overall Supreme Grand Champion title in taekwondo, a sport I began participating in during my 50s. As my hearing worsened, I noticed I was having problems with spinning jump kicks, something I could easily do just a year earlier.
Although this was usually a slow-growing tumor, after few months I realized I was losing my hearing faster than expected, and the dizziness was affecting my everyday life. I have always strived to be the best of the best, so I decided to seek help from a place I had trusted with my non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment several years earlier: MD Anderson.
Balancing the options
When I met with Franco DeMonte, M.D., a brain surgeon with MD Anderson's Skull Base Tumor Program, I wanted to be sure that he realized I was not some ordinary "older person" who was content spending the remaining years of her life sitting calmly watching TV.
After additional testing, Dr. DeMonte shared the results. As we went over the findings together, I asked him my list of many questions. Not once did he tire of them, even though I asked some of them two or three times in different ways, hoping for a different response.
By Ryan Stephens
When Elizabeth Sanchez decided to move back to Houston from California in November 2014, she couldn't quite explain what was drawing her back.
"I felt like there was a purpose for my kids and I in Houston," Elizabeth says. "I was anxious. I knew that we belonged in Houston, and I wasn't quite sure why."
Her decision turned out to be an unforeseen blessing for her family. Just a few months later, Elizabeth's son, Caleb, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosis
Not long after the family's move, Caleb developed a fever that would not go away. He had night sweats and no appetite.
Thinking he had a virus, Elizabeth took Caleb to the emergency room. Within an hour, he was surrounded by doctors and nurses.
"At that point it seemed like a bigger deal than a virus," Elizabeth says.
By Lany Kimmons
In the summer of 2012, doctors removed a mole from Vince Leseney's shoulder. After a biopsy, the musical theater voice instructor and actor was diagnosed with stage IIIB melanoma.
Vince was devastated when his doctors in Oklahoma said there wasn't much that they could do to treat melanoma. But when one of Vince's former students heard about his diagnosis, she introduced him to her father, Jagan Sastry, M.D., a professor in Immunology at MD Anderson. Sastry insisted that he travel to Houston and meet Patrick Hwu, M.D., head of MD Anderson's Melanoma department.
First impressions of
Upon arriving at MD Anderson, Vince was in awe of the sheer size of the facility and the kindness of the people. "Every person I interacted with was so helpful and friendly," he says.
The same was true for Dr. Hwu, who immediately gave Vince confidence that his cancer could be treated. Vince knew that Dr. Hwu - now head of MD Anderson's largest academic division, Cancer Medicine -- was extremely busy, but he's never missed an appointment. "I think there might be two of him," Vince jokes.
By Doug Jones
I have always heard people say, "Now is not a good time to quit!" There is always a time when you are less stressed, less busy or maybe more devoted to becoming healthier. I am here to tell you not to listen to those people.
When I started working at MD Anderson in January 2000, I was smoking two packs a day, and had been smoking since I was very young. In 2002, I transferred to Laboratory Informatics, where we support several clinical and research areas around MD Anderson. After talking to some of the doctors and seeing the inner workings of the hospital, I made the decision to quit smoking.
However, I was under so much stress when I made that decision. My mother was moving to Texas, and I was going through a bad divorce.
Getting help at MD Anderson
One of my co-workers recommended that I reach out to Bill Baun, program manager for MD Anderson's employee wellness program.
Making that call was very hard, but I realized I had nothing to lose. Mr. Baun came to our support room, talked with me and made me comfortable and secure in my decision to quit smoking.
He put me in contact with MD Anderson's tobacco cessation program, which provides counseling and support for patients and employees trying to quit. That was the beginning of my new life.
By Anton Blender
With most kids back at school, one summer memory likely stands out for some of our teen cancer patients and their siblings: the prom at Camp A.O.K., a week-long overnight camp held each August in Magnolia, Texas.
"I've missed many homecomings and many formals at my school being in the hospital and taking treatments," says 16-year-old Rumer Austin, who drives seven hours from Oklahoma to attend Camp A.O.K. every summer. "It's really fun just getting to interact with everyone and look nice for a night."
Making up for lost
Diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma at age 11, Rumer has undergone several surgeries and treatments.
"I've definitely had my lows," Rumer says. "You've got to just live with it and make the best of things, so that's what I try to do. And that's what this camp does, it really brings the positive side to the disease and the surgeries."
By Emily Tickle Thomas
I was hoping I had put cancer behind me. I knew I would always have to watch for any signs of recurrence, travel to Houston regularly for checkups and even have a biopsy if anything suspicious popped up.
But in April 2015, I was back at square one. I'd noticed a suspicious looking, cyst-like spot on the left side of my tongue a few weeks earlier, so during my checkup at MD Anderson, I discussed it with my doctor, Eduardo Diaz, Jr., M.D.
The biopsy showed that my tongue cancer -- specifically, squamous cell carcinoma of the left lateral tongue -- had returned.
With this second diagnosis came a flood of questions - some of which I've been hearing since my first tongue cancer diagnosis in 2007. Here are my answers to some of the questions people ask.
Connect on social media
- Young adults: Genetic counseling and testing for colorectal cancer
- Getting through liver cancer with family and a positive attitude
- Young rhabdomyosarcoma patient polishes his superpowers
- Undergoing genetic counseling and testing for a BRCA mutation
- Using hypnosis to cope with cancer
- Four-time cancer survivor: "It's never too late to quit smoking"
- How I knocked out acoustic neuroma
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia patient gets the chance to be a kid at MD Anderson
- Melanoma survivor: "Don't live like a patient"
- "Now" is always a good time to quit smoking
- Cancer Prevention (149)
- Cancer Research (165)
- Education (71)
- Patient Care (378)
- Global Navigation
- About Us
- How You Can Help
- Children's Art Project
- Contact Us
- Patient and Cancer Information
- Cancer Information
- Patient Information
- Care Centers & Clinics
- Children’s Cancer Hospital
- Services & Amenities
- Clinical Trials
- News and Publications
- Education and Research
- Departments, Programs & Labs
- Research at MD Anderson
- Education & Training
- Resources for Professionals
- For Employees
- Employee Resources
- Doing Business
- Vendors & Suppliers
- Strategic Industry Ventures
- State of Texas
- State of Texas Home Page
- Statewide Search (TRAIL)
- State Comptroller - Where the Money Goes
- Texas Homeland Security
- The University of Texas System
- Institution Resume
- Legal and Policy
- Legal Statements & Site Policies