By Tom Barber
We did it.
With a good coach and you, my fellow cancer patients, as inspiration, I was able to complete the Long Boat Key Sprint Triathlon on May 5.
It was a beautiful place and a fun day I will long remember.
I was smiling the whole way, loving being a participant in the race, knowing it could end in a moment, but moving forward for the pure enjoyment of being part of it.
To experience something for the first time always yields the unexpected, worth the difficulty and work of doing it. This was that way.
Doing "normal" things: the path to normalcy
Many cancer patients are like me, wishing for life to be "normal" again. As obvious as it sounds, perhaps doing "normal" things is one of the pathways there.
By Tom Barber
"I still do my spray tans. I still use my creams. I still go in the sun. Only I now wear sunscreen, hats, glasses -- everything I'm supposed to do," says Cheri Huber. "I didn't quit living after melanoma."
Like many women, Cheri enjoys being tan. During the summer she was always lying out by the pool or on the beach. In the winter, she used a tanning bed.
Cheri was 15 years old when she first used a tanning bed. "I probably went to the tanning salon three times a week," she says.
As she got older, she and her mother bought their own tanning bed after realizing they could save money this way.
Cheri's melanoma diagnosis
In 2008, when Cheri turned 35, she was due for a baseline mammogram. She decided to get a full-body checkup and went to the dermatologist as well.
During the exam, the dermatologist noticed a scab on Cheri's shin. "I don't really remember when it first showed up," she told her dermatologist. "I just assumed I cut myself shaving and kept irritating it."
By Donna Patricia Brown
Even though I knew the odds were against me, I didn't want to face my reality. I have too much I want to do before I die.
But wishing wouldn't my change reality: My estrogen positive (ER+) breast cancer had returned.
My breast cancer treatment
My personal war against stage 3 breast cancer began on May 10, 2005.
Since then, I've endured eight rounds of chemotherapy (lost my hair), a mastectomy, 25 radiation treatments, staph infection, wound VAC for 30 days, a frozen shoulder, a year of physical therapy and reconstructive surgery, with seven surgeries total.
So it was game on for my breast cancer -- war two -- when my oncologist called me on June 29, 2012, to say there were metastatic breast cancer tumors in my lungs and bones. My stage was elevated to 4.
By Sandra Bishnoi
It has been almost two-and-a-half years since I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer with bone metastasis.
For now, I've reached a point of stability and a NED (no evidence of disease) status.
Although the psychological aspects of this diagnosis and the resulting changes in my body have taken their toll, I've been lucky enough to have found a couple of support groups along the way.
My first support group
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I didn't know anyone who had cancer or who'd been through cancer treatment. I decided to find a cancer support group.
By Mike Snyder
Early in my cancer journey, my wife Sarah made an interesting observation. "You know what it's like to be a cancer patient," she said. "But you don't know what it's like to have a family member who's a cancer patient."
She was absolutely right. I had an idea of what my family was feeling, but I didn't really know how they felt. I wasn't the one who had a family member with cancer.
I knew how to be a cancer patient, but not how to be a supporter or caregiver for someone with cancer.
From that point on, and especially after coming to MD Anderson, I've spent a lot of time thinking about cancer's impact on the people who love them.
As patients, we have resources to help us deal with the physical and emotional toll of cancer. But what about our family members, friends and caregivers? What's available to make their journey easier?
By Bailey Heard
I met Andrew Heard at Baylor University in 2005. He was a seminary student who played on the Baylor football team, and I was a business major who cheered on the coed squad for Baylor.
We were set up on a blind date by mutual friends and married in 2007.
Andrew's history of Hodgkin lymphoma
From the moment I met Andrew, I was blown away by his intelligence and his drive.
One of the many things I found fascinating about him was that he'd already written a book about his cancer experience in high school.
Last summer, Oliver Bogler felt a lump in his chest -- one that sometimes seemed to grow and ache. Though his Internet searches told him it could be male breast cancer, Bogler put off telling his wife. He also put off going to see a doctor for several months.
Though the male breast cancer diagnosis that Bogler ultimately received is rare, stories like his are not. Men are far less likely than women to have visited the doctor in the past year, according to research.
But, as Bogler learned, waiting and avoiding the doctor doesn't usually make symptoms disappear. In fact, it may just cause more worrying.
Now Bogler is sharing his advice for others who put off doctor's visits, especially men who suspect they may have cancer.
In honor of National Men's Health Week from June 10-16, we encourage you to watch Bogler's video below and share it with the men in your life.
By Linda Ryan
Who ever thought a dare would turn into the way you told your friends there's no evidence of cancer in your body?
I traveled to Houston with my friend Barbara for every other cancer treatment. Around the fifth treatment, she was waiting for me while I was seeing Shannon Westin, M.D., after a scan.
When she was done, she took a bow for the family watching her and motioned for them to clap for her. They did, cautiously. She even asked a stranger to video her doing it.
I'm not sure I laughed harder during those six months of treatment than I did when I watched the video.
Headstands to celebrate the end of my cancer
On the day of my ninth treatment, we decided that we would do headstands if Dr. Westin told me the cancer was gone. We'd post a picture on Facebook so everyone would know I was done with treatment.
Did you know that MD Anderson claims more than 200,000 cancer survivors? That doesn't count their caregivers, who by the American Cancer Society's definition, are survivors themselves.
This is a club that none of us ever wanted to join, but we've all found ourselves as members. And, come June 1-8, we'll all be celebrated for this membership as part of Survivorship Week at MD Anderson. There will be all kinds of fun and interesting activities.
If you're in the neighborhood, we hope you'll stop by.
A week full of survivorship events
The week kicks off with an event sponsored by Riders for the Cure. Join these MD Anderson employees and supporters at their annual Ride for Life, which begins at Stubbs Harley-Davidson on Telephone Road. It's a great way to get revved up for the rest of the week.
Beginning on Monday, June 2, you'll feel the survivor spirit when you walk in the doors at MD Anderson.
"Hold on. I can feel it getting better. Hold on. Be strong. Can you feel it getting better?"
These words of hope and encouragement are found in the chorus of the song "Hold On," written by Greg Lizee, Ph.D., associate professor in MD Anderson's Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology.
In 2002, a close friend of Lizee's was going through a tough time. Lizee wanted to cheer his friend up, so he decided to write an inspiring song.
"I was playing this very optimistic-sounding chord progression and thought about putting uplifting lyrics to it," says Lizee. "In just a few days I'd written 'Hold On.'"
The birth of Lizee's songwriting hobby
Lizee first became interested in music at age eight when he began piano lessons. Four years later, he picked up his first guitar.
"I've been in many bands over the years, but just as a hobby," says Lizee. He's been writing songs for about 15 years.
Lizee isn't shy to admit that his first songs weren't that great. "'Hold On' was the first song I wrote that I could actually listen to again and again," he says.
By Lindsay Lewis, MD Anderson Staff Writer
Brad Smith and Leila Little are speech pathologists. But their job is a little different than you might think.
As certified lymphedema therapists in the Speech Pathology and Audiology section of Head and Neck Surgery, Smith and Little work with patients to reduce head and neck lymphedema -- swelling that can be a complication of their cancer treatments.
"It may or may not look like a lot of swelling, but it's substantial to our patients," says Smith, who explains that lymphedema in the region of the head and neck can be devastating to a patient's self-image and affect basic functions such as speaking, swallowing, vision or breathing.
Personalized head and neck lymphedema treatment for cancer patients
The Speech Pathology and Audiology section comprises a team of clinicians who manage a range of treatment complications, many of which affect the head and neck region, and work to restore patients' quality of life.
By Terry Arnold
I used to wonder if doctors at large hospitals like MD Anderson remembered their patients. Did they ever look up from the charts, tests and body exams to see the face of the person they were treating?
Since patients come from all over the world, it seemed like it would be an impersonal relationship. That is, until I met Ricardo H. Alvarez, M.D.
Waiting to meet my new triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer doctor
When I met Dr. Alvarez, I'd already been through a year of cancer treatment for triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).
You'd have thought I would've been nervous, but I wasn't. I felt confident.
I'd been happy with my prior oncologist, but he'd moved across the country. So, I had to make a change, too.
Connect on social media
- Lung cancer survivor completes triathlon
- Texas tanning bed law: A melanoma survivor's take
- Help from a new drug: Treating my breast cancer recurrence
- Support groups: A patient's perspective
- MD Anderson resources for cancer caregivers and family members
- Caring for my husband with stage IV lung cancer: Finding purpose and meaning
- Men who suspect they have cancer: A cancer survivor's advice
- Cancer patient celebrates no evidence of disease with headstands
- Cancer Survivorship Week at MD Anderson: Save the date
- "Hold On" - a song of hope for cancer patients
- Cancer Prevention (110)
- Cancer Research (138)
- Education (71)
- Patient Care (301)
- 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
- Partners & Affiliates
- 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
- Stay Connected
- Emergency Alerts
- Emergency Alert Information