Ovarian cancer survivor: How I turned a trip to MD Anderson for cancer treatment into a girls' weekend

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BrittanyHurstandMelanie43.jpgBy Brittany Hurst

When I told my friends about my ovarian cancer diagnosis, they had a lot of questions:  What stage was my cancer? What was my ovarian cancer treatment plan? How often would I go to Houston? What was MD Anderson like?

I started a website to help keep everyone updated, but I knew none of my friends would be able to grasp how amazing MD Anderson is. I have never seen a hospital that big or experienced such a friendly and helpful staff. I told my friends that even though I was exhausted and didn't feel well, I still looked forward to my trips to Texas just because MD Anderson's staff made me so comfortable. They helped me cope with my fears about my upcoming surgery and chemotherapy.

After about five or six months of traveling for my ovarian cancer treatment, I decided to let one of my friends come along instead of my husband or parents. This was a chance to show off my hospital and let a friend gain a better understanding of what ovarian cancer treatment is like.  

Traveling for ovarian cancer treatment with a friend
Before my next round of chemo, I invited my friend Melanie to travel with me.
With our flight and hotel booked, I warned her that Thursday would be a long day with blood work, appointments with doctors and then chemo. My body was becoming very sensitive to the Carboplatin, so treatments took anywhere from 7 to 12 hours.

After we arrived at MD Anderson, I had my blood work done and then gave Melanie a tour and grabbed breakfast in the Waterfall Café in the Mays Clinic.

When we sat down to see the doctor, I was informed my white blood cell counts had dropped and were too low to receive chemo. Cue the tears.

After calming down and finishing the visit with my doctor, I apologized to Melanie for the breakdown. It was good she was there and was able to see some of my ups and downs. I wanted my friends to see me on the good days as well as the bad days, so they would have a better idea of what I was going through.

Finding fun during cancer treatment
I needed some retail therapy after hearing I wouldn't be getting my treatment this trip, so Melanie and I spent the rest of the day shopping and exploring Houston. We ended the day with a stop by my favorite bakery for cupcakes. To no surprise, Melanie loved them, too.

Bringing a friend along to MD Anderson made the trip feel different. It was fun to show Melanie around both the hospital and Houston, and our time together helped me forget about the seriousness of the trip and the letdown of not receiving chemo. It felt like a girls' trip. We laughed almost the entire time.

Now when I talk to Melanie about my trips to MD Anderson, she can actually visualize what I am talking about. She has a better idea of what I'm going through and better understands why MD Anderson is such a special place. This understanding has helped strengthen our friendship. Hopefully, we can plan another girls' trip sometime.

Read more posts by Brittany Hurst.

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