Recently by Patient Education Bloggers
By Jackie Parker
I can relate to people who are dealing with cancer because I'm a survivor myself.
My children were 4 and 6 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993. Now some 20 years later, I help patients, caregivers and librarians as a weekly volunteer in The Learning Center.
Becoming an MD Anderson volunteer
While seeking volunteer opportunities in the community 11 years ago, a friend and fellow breast cancer survivor had just finished her treatment at MD Anderson. We attended volunteer orientation together. I love to read, and when my kids were young, I volunteered in their school's library. So, The Learning Center seemed to be a good fit for me.
My friend still volunteers at MD Anderson, too. She works with Pink Ribbon volunteers in the Breast Center.
By Rosemary Catallo
Patients and their families often come into The Learning Center, where I work as a librarian, to seek information. After interacting with people for many years -- and from reviewing the large amount of information we have access to here -- I've come to understand what information newly diagnosed patients and their families need.
Some patients are anxious if they don't have enough information. Other people get stressed or feel overwhelmed by too much information.
I recommend the following basic questions for newly diagnosed cancer patients. Answers to these questions may allow you to feel less overwhelmed and better able to manage your cancer journey.
This is a continuation of yesterday's post on how pre-surgery visualization helped me.
Telling my surgical team about visualization
I didn't tell my surgical team about my new visualization practice right away.
"But my surgical team has to be involved. Can you please help me?" I was relieved when they respectfully agreed to participate and put notes about my request in my chart.
By Jila Tanha
In July 2010, I was diagnosed with a serious disease that required three major surgeries over the course of a year-and-a-half.
Because I work in The Learning Center, you would think I would approach my own health with an "I know all that" attitude. Well, that didn't happen.
The reality of my diagnosis hit me, and anxiety took over.
I was facing three surgeries and wanted to do the right things to help my body prepare.
I wanted to heal quickly with fewer post-surgery complications.
The internet can make life easier, but the answers it gives you can be overwhelming when you're dealing with cancer.
So what's the best way to find the most reliable, accurate information? Through The Learning Center at MD Anderson. We'll help you find the latest information about general health, cancer and issues related to cancer and cancer prevention. All services are free.
A credible resource
The Learning Center staff provides information that's current and accurate from trustworthy sources, including scientific and medical databases.
By Mary Dewberry
In January 1989, MD Anderson went smoke-free. It happened the same month and year that I started working here.
Now when people see me, they think of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout (GASO) and saying no to tobacco. That's because for 23 years, I've helped coordinate GASO's logistics and direct people to resources here at MD Anderson during the event, which is held every November.
But for me, GASO isn't about trying to quit for one day or one week. It's about providing resources to help year-round.
Here are a few of the resources I recommend to those trying to quit.
By Desirée Gonzales Phillips
Desirée Gonzales Phillips is a senior health education specialist in the Patient Education Office and has worked at MD Anderson 10 years.
Bathing suit season is over, thank goodness! Time to put the suit and cover-up back in the drawer until next season's magazine cover says "10 Tips to Get Bathing Suit Ready." When summer rolls around again -- no pun intended -- I will need 25 tips.
Like most people, I often complain or criticize my body or want to change something about it. But for many of our patients, body image can go much deeper. It can be a lifetime concern.
Whether due to hair loss, scars, lymphedema or other treatment side effects, some people have a hard time dealing with appearance and body image changes.
Are you placing unrealistic demands on your body to look the way it did before cancer?
By Linda Yarger
Linda Yarger is a senior librarian in The Learning Center and has worked at MD Anderson 16 years.
At one time cancer was a dark cloud hanging over my future. Now, my past is what gives me motivation to fight cancer however I can.
From the time I was a teenager, cancer has been part of my life. My mom developed ovarian cancer then, and she died in 1961 at the end of my freshman year in college.
Back then, cancer was not talked about as freely as it is now. For a long time my sister and I did not know why my mom was sick. My Aunt Helen had breast cancer at the same time, in both breasts. When her cancer spread to the bone, we were told she had very bad arthritis. Eventually, we learned that both my mom and my aunt had cancer.
I always wondered if I would get cancer, too. Was there anything I could do to prevent cancer? Whenever possible, I tried to live a healthy lifestyle. When I gardened, I gardened organically. I also avoided using chemicals for housekeeping or insect control.
In spite of my precautions, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 46.
Rhonda Armstrong Trevino, program coordinator in the Division of Pediatrics, wears two hats. She's a mom and an MD Anderson employee on the Family Advisory Council (FAC) in the Children's Cancer Hospital at MD Anderson.
As part of the FAC, Rhonda has the opportunity to be the voice of the patient and parent, while serving as a link between the Children's Cancer Hospital and MD Anderson.
Putting patients first is at the core of the FAC, and her role as a mother plays a big part in helping her stay focused on what matters.
How it all began
In 2005, Rhonda's daughter, Abigail, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the left distal femur (left thigh) at age 12. While many girls her age were excited about starting junior high school, Abigail was struggling with losing her independence.
By Chesley Cheatham, Patient Education Office
Just when you think you know something, life will teach you that you don't.
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of patients' experiences. I've worked in the Patient Education Office almost six years; I teach the New Patient/Family Orientation Class; I help develop patient education programs; and I even give tours of MD Anderson.
However, when my aunt was diagnosed with a rare type of sarcoma in March 2011 and became a patient here, well ... that's when I really learned a thing or two.
Being at MD Anderson is like visiting a busy airport because you meet people from all over the world. Some people keep to themselves or rest, while others are eager to help, share their stories or hear yours.
Conversations are natural and friendly.
By Lura Lumsden, health education specialist, Patient Education Office - The Learning Center
Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I always had a huge vegetable garden, so eating healthy was easy. When I went to college, my diet changed. With my main focus on studying, I rarely cooked and often opted for quick meals that weren't always the healthiest option.
Since I began working at MD Anderson in The Learning Center, I've tried to live a healthier lifestyle. Good nutrition has become a priority, and I pay close attention to what my family eats. To ensure that we eat more fruits and vegetables, I prep all of the produce when I get home from the grocery store. I wash, cut and store it in the fridge so that I can grab and go.
What we offer
The Learning Center offers free information at all levels -- from very basic materials all the way to physician-level resources.
Although many of the cookbooks in The Learning Center are cancer-specific, the recipes are for anyone who wants to eat healthier.
Our Nutrition Pathfinder is a condensed list of reliable resources including books, cookbooks, videos, brochures and periodicals. Patients and family members are encouraged to use our email reference service to send us their questions.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nutrition for patients
Proper nutrition is important for people who have cancer. The disease and treatment can cause changes in appetite. If you are experiencing changes in appetite or difficulty eating you should speak with a dietitian. At MD Anderson, every patient has access to a dietitian, so ask your doctor for a referral.