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CLL patient: Observations from an MD Anderson waiting area

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By Harley Hudson

As I sit here near MD Anderson's Sundial landmark watching people come and go, I see one thing they have in common:  hope. A woman just came in holding her young son's arm, his legs moving in an uncoordinated lurch. They come here hoping for a miracle. An older gentleman is leaving, oxygen tank cradled on the back of his wheel chair helping him to breath. With help, he gets into a car, hoping for a cure.

People come from all over the world to MD Anderson for cancer treatment. They all come with one thing on their minds that they cannot get at home: hope. As I look around and observe, I hear languages that I cannot understand. Every conversation expresses hope, not so much in the words, but the emotion.

The care teams here create healing protocols. In my opinion, patients who cannot be healed completely are given a better quality of life and extended years.

Coming to MD Anderson for a CLL clinical trial
I, for one, came hoping that MD Anderson could provide a cure for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), either through new drugs or a stem cell transplant. All other approved protocols had failed to control my disease. When I entered the clinical trial for ABT-199, I was given that hope. Now a new drug has been approved, ibrutinib. It was researched and tried at MD Anderson. Should ABT-199 cease working, this newly approved drug may be the next step. Even more drugs are on the horizon -- all giving hope for CLL patients, hope we didn't have even a few years ago.

It's true that MDA cannot cure all. My Ground Angel driver yesterday told me that her daughter's breast cancer was too far advanced for a cure, but she did have added years -- and a determination to live. She lived two years beyond what was expected.

Hope for the future
Hope is a powerful emotion. Without it, life slips away. With it, the will to live becomes strong. Sometimes I wonder which is the stronger healer, hope or medication. Then I realize that it is a team effort. One without the other is not enough. Together, the results can be amazing.

Back near the Sundial, I pray that that mother will have her hope rewarded. I pray the older gentleman will have a better quality of life. I pray that those people from around the globe will have their hopes fulfilled.

I pray that someday the hope that springs from this facility will spread around the world, providing healing for the multitudes who hope someday they will be cured. I pray that my willingness to try an untried drug will help hundreds of thousands of people who now have only hope, and that they'll soon have their cure.

Read more posts by Harley Hudson

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is one of the cancers MD Anderson is focusing on as part of our Moon Shots Program to dramatically reduce cancer deaths. Learn more about our CLL Moon Shot.

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