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Mays_Clinic_fountain_411_SkyKMCropFlat.jpgIt can take a while to learn all the ins and outs of MD Anderson. To help you get ahead and make your next trip to MD Anderson even better, we're sharing our insider tips.

Grab free coffee while visiting a Hospitality Center. 
Coffee is available in the cafeterias and the various coffee shops throughout campus, but you can find free coffee in our Hospitality Centers in the Main Building and Mays Clinic. Stop by and chat with our volunteers. Many of them are members of the Anderson Network and are cancer survivors themselves.

Find our Hospitality Centers.

Leave the babysitting to us.
Our Child Visitation Rooms offers free, safe, short-term child care of children ages 2 months to 12 years. Drop your kids off for up to two hours at a time, so they can play with toys and games or watch movies while you tend to the business of cancer.

carissa922.jpgBy Carissa Lucas

As a 25-year-old athlete with an almost perfect health history, my lymphoma diagnosis was a crushing blow. It happened so quickly that I almost didn't have time to process what was happening to me, until I found myself sitting in an infusion room a week later receiving my first round of chemotherapy.

I won't deny it: chemotherapy is tough. However I found some strategies that helped me cope.

Though everyone responds to treatment differently, I hope at least one of these strategies makes chemo a little easier for you.

iStock_000011745159XLarge.jpgWant to help a friend or loved one dealing with cancer? It can be hard to know exactly what you can or should do.
 
That's why we asked the cancer patients, survivors and caregivers in our Facebook community to tell us the most helpful thing you can do for a friend or loved one dealing with cancer. Here's their advice.

1. Visit. Cancer patients and caregivers are still people, and they want to see you, talk to you and laugh with you.

2. Listen. Ask questions to show you care, but let your friend or loved one lead the conversation.

3. Pray.

4. Find a way to help and just do it. Don't ask if there's anything you can do. Chances are your friend will just say thank you and won't ask you to help. Many of our Facebook fans suggested just doing something for friends with cancer instead of asking what they need.

Siefker-Radtke_088__master.jpgThis year, nearly 75,000 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The vast majority of people diagnosed with this disease are white men over age 55, but bladder cancer can -- and does -- affect men and women of all ages and races.

For many, blood in the urine will be the first tell-tale bladder cancer symptom. But many patients don't come to MD Anderson until their disease is late-stage and the bladder cancer has spread. And that, says, Arlene Siefker-Radtke, M.D., associate professor in Genitourinary Medical Oncology, can make it harder to treat.

Here's what Dr. Siefker-Radtke wants bladder cancer patients and caregivers to know so they can get the best treatment possible and boost their chances of beating this disease.

What factors make someone more likely to develop bladder cancer?
Tobacco use is one of the biggest risk factors for bladder cancer. That includes smoking, as well as every other kind of tobacco use, including snuff, dip and chew.

Chemical exposure also can increase a person's risk of bladder cancer. People who work around a lot of chemicals are more likely to develop bladder cancer.

Harley731.jpgBy Harley Hudson

I decided to keep a diary of my stem cell transplant experience so it might help others in preparing for their stem cell transplants. Here are the first two entries.

Day 0, 5:16 a.m.: The day of my stem cell transplant
That's right. Day 0. The day my family and I have been anticipating for over 465 days, since last March. And, oh what a day it is: my rebirthday, the day of my stem cell transplant, perhaps the most important part of my chronic lymphocyctic leukemia (CLL) treatment.

Somewhere in the U.S., a young man is in a collection center donating his O+ stem cells, which will be airlifted to MD Anderson and infused into my O- system.

His stem cells will engraft in my bone marrow and begin to produce stem cells that will become white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. His white cells will destroy what remains of my own white cells, healthy and unhealthy alike, and will become my cells. I will be reborn, given a new opportunity at life.

friends walking.jpgResearch shows that exercise is safe and beneficial for most cancer patients and survivors. In fact, in most cases, it is important to keep exercising during cancer treatment.

"Exercise has the potential to help reduce some of the fatigue experienced during and after treatment, especially if you're undergoing radiation therapy. And, it can help prevent weight gain commonly experienced during chemotherapy treatment," says Carol Harrison, senior exercise physiologist.

Exercise also has the potential to improve your psychological outlook and improve your quality of life. But you may need to make some adjustments before you exercise during cancer treatment.

"It depends on treatment, type of cancer and when you need to get back into what you were doing before," Harrison says.

Use this advice to help you get started.

victorhassid.jpgBy Victor Hassid, M.D.


Breast reconstruction and symmetry procedures following mastectomy are very personal decisions that breast cancer patients need to carefully consider.

Fortunately, patients have choices when it comes to breast reconstruction. There is no cookie-cutter approach, and patients need to discuss their options in depth with their physician.

Here are five of the most common breast reconstruction myths I hear.

Myth: Breast reconstruction must take place immediately after a mastectomy.
Some women aren't certain they want breast reconstruction and wait months or even years before having surgery. Patients still undergoing breast cancer treatment may want to wait until after they have completed radiation, as radiation can limit your options for reconstruction and affect the final result. However, other women want to have breast reconstruction when they have their mastectomy.

There is no right time to undergo breast reconstruction. The timing of your reconstruction should be up to you and your physician.

Rob.jpgBy Robert Matney

Once you've received a cancer diagnosis, you're faced with a series of sometimes urgent choices, including which type of cancer treatment you undergo. We make a personal and nuanced choice when we select treatment, and I believe that the best choices come from the best information about the best options.

After my melanoma diagnosis, I underwent surgeries to remove a wide area around the original site and 39 lymph nodes (sentinel node followed by those in the region). I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma and needed to quickly determine what treatment to keep the cancer at bay. After much research, deliberation and discussion with family and doctors, I chose a clinical trial.  

Selecting the right clinical trial
After consulting my doctors at MD Anderson -- Patrick Hwu, M.D., and Merrick Ross, M.D., -- I decided that a clinical trial would help further future treatment for myself and others, and would also be a sober, smart choice based on the relative risks and successes of the available treatments.

Rehab_Walker_008_master.jpgBy Lindsay Lewis

When Susanne Stanley started working at MD Anderson nearly two years ago, she never imagined the challenges associated with cancer recovery.

For many patients, recovering from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation -- or some combination of the three -- is a long and difficult process, says Stanley, an occupational therapist in Rehabilitation Services.

"Our job is to help patients function again, and find the strength and motivation to resume their lives."

Helping patients return to daily living
Stanley is one of more than 100 clinical professionals and support staff that make up Rehabilitation Services, which offers physical and occupational therapy to more than 10,000 inpatients and outpatients a year.

Linda Ryan and her sons65.jpgBy Linda Ryan

When I talk with others who have received a cancer diagnosis, they often want to know my secret: What did I do to survive cervical cancer and thyroid cancer? They are looking for a glimmer of hope. 

Give your body what it needs
People don't ask me what I specifically did to beat cancer. Rather, they ask about the chemotherapy drugs that were given to me -- Cisplatin and Alimta.

I often share that I was in the best shape of my life when I received my second cervical cancer diagnosis, as I had just run a marathon. I also tell them that I continued to exercise during my cervical cancer treatment. It was important to me to keep moving and let cancer know what I thought.   

amanda62.jpgBy Amanda Woodward

Let's be honest, chemotherapy sucks. But during my own melanoma treatment, which included surgery and chemotherapy, I found a few ways to make the whole experience a little less miserable.

Of course, every cancer, every patient and every treatment is different, so what worked for me may not work for everyone. I'm speaking in generalities. Here are my tips for making chemo a little less miserable.

Pack right: My hospital bag always included my computer, some music, a blanket, something to read, a change of clothes and lip balm (goodbye, dry lips!).  

distressed woman.jpgFatigue is a common side effect of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

We asked our Facebook community for advice for coping with cancer-related fatigue. Here's what our patients suggested.

Be as active as possible

  • Exercise. We know it can be tough when you're tired, but even walking from your door to the mailbox can help you feel better. If you're feeling up for it, try an activity like yoga.
  • Take naps. Your body is healing. It's OK to rest.

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