By Brandie Sellers
The recent revelation that Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy and reconstruction to minimize her chances of developing breast cancer is causing quite a buzz. It seems that the public is supportive of this measure.
As for me, I don't know what I would do in her shoes.
I don't have the BRCA gene for breast cancer. Yet I got diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37.
Ninety percent of women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis do not have the BRCA gene.
For me, because I had a huge tumor, it wasn't a question of whether I would have mastectomies or not. It was a foregone conclusion.
Some women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis are candidates for a lumpectomy, and that can have the same positive outcomes in many cases as having a mastectomy does.
Recently in Cancer Treatment Category
By Brandie Sellers
I wasn't always able to give blood.
The first time I tried -- as a high school senior, many years ago -- I fainted after the finger stick to check my iron level.
I didn't even make it to the donor chair.
This was at a blood drive attended by many friends and classmates. I got teased about it and was embarrassed. For many years, I thought I wouldn't ever be able to give blood.
But one of my heroes, my Uncle Paul, was -- is -- a regular blood donor. He's quietly given nearly 28 gallons to his local blood bank.
It's a habit for him.
So, in 2000, nearly 25 years after my dismal high school experience, I noticed an MD Anderson blood drive being held at the University of Houston.
I decided to try again. And I succeeded.
Since then, giving blood has been a regular thing for me. I try to donate every quarter.
By Linda Ryan
Because I had recurring cervical cancer after seven years, my two experiences with cervical cancer were very different.
When I was originally diagnosed with cervical cancer, I was 36 years old and the mom of two boys. We weren't sure our family was complete and were hoping for another baby when I was told that I would need a hysterectomy.
I was devastated by the news. I mourned the loss of another baby, but as the years passed I couldn't imagine our family any different than it was.
The importance of screenings and early detection
My initial cervical cancer was found during a routine pap test. It was stage 0, and the treatment was a hysterectomy. No radiation or chemotherapy.
Recovering from the surgery wasn't easy, but I was able to drive again after two weeks and back on my feet fairly quickly.
When people asked what they could do for me, my answer was often, "Go to the doctor for your annual exam."
By Yackjaira Ruiz
Every year, I rack my brain with what I will get my mom for Mother's Day. This year I was thinking of a pair of earrings. If I ask her what she wants for Mother's Day, she would say "for you to be good."
That has been the answer she has given for Mother's Day, her birthday and Christmas for as long as I can remember. And yes, even at 26 years old, that's still her answer.
Three years ago, almost to the day, my mother, Yackdale (Jackie) Ruiz, was diagnosed with breast cancer. From that moment on, the meaning of Mother's Day changed for me.
The new meaning of Mother's Day
Before my mom's cancer diagnosis, I had always thought Mother's Day was all about her and showing her how much I loved her. In reality, Mother's Day is about me.
By Staci Waites
It's no secret that cancer treatment can cause changes in your appearance. Experiencing those changes in front of middle school students, however, can be a challenge.
In addition to being a mother, wife, sister and daughter with cancer, I am also a middle school teacher.
That means I had 400 students with ring-side seats to my journey through treatment. The teacher in me had to portray strength and stability, but the patient in me was vulnerable and scared.
Middle school students are at an age where they're aware of what cancer is. Some may have a family member who has been through cancer treatment. Some of their parents work in the medical field. Regardless of their own experience, "cancer" is a very scary word to kids at that age.
By Allyson Hendrickson
On our fourth wedding anniversary, I gave my husband the happy news that we were going to be parents. Our son, Cole, was born in January 2002, followed by two more boys, Cade in 2004 and Austin in 2005. I began to refer to the boys as my "little cowboys," and the name stuck.
The days when they were babies went by in a blur. I was exhausted, my house was a wreck, everything I touched was dirty or sticky or grubby -- and I loved my life. Each of my little cowboys could melt my heart with just one word: "Mommy."
In June 2007, when my sons were 5, 3, and 1½ years old, some unusual pain landed me in the ER. Several tests were inconclusive, but they raised enough suspicion that my ob/gyn thought it a good idea to do an exploratory surgery to check for ovarian cancer.
The morning after the operation, the doctor said six words that changed my life: "I have bad news. It's cancer."
By Anne Balson
"Nurses are angels in comfortable shoes."
-- Author Unknown
My appendix ruptured the summer after my freshman year in college. This was a big deal back in the fifties; I was in the hospital for over a week.
The nurses made a tremendous impression on me - all starched and serious with little caps, white stockings and squishy, spotless white oxfords.
Beginning in October 2011, I spent 15 months in outpatient cancer treatment at MD Anderson. The nurses, again, were extraordinary. But what a difference the decades have made.
Now there were smiles and colorful scrubs, and almost everyone was wearing Crocs and socks.
I know it sounds really odd to say I'm glad my mom found out she has cancer, but in a strange kind of way I am. If my mother wasn't diagnosed and coming to MD Anderson, there is a good chance her other health issues would not have been discovered.
My mom went for her physicals every year and was told she was healthy. However, when she came to MD Anderson, doctors diagnosed another discernible issue besides her cancer - extreme hypertension.
Geriatrician fills in the gaps for seniors
So, Mom was sent to see Beatrice Edwards, M.D., a geriatrician here at MD Anderson. Mom thought she was just having her high blood pressure checked, but Dr. Edwards checked for every possible thing that could be a problem for a senior.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the most aggressive form of breast cancer. Symptoms for this rare type of breast cancer often include itching, dimpling of the skin of the breast, and a pink, red or dark-colored area of the breast. As a result, IBC is frequently misdiagnosed as a rash or infection.
Because IBC is very fast growing, it's crucial that IBC be treated as quickly as possible and by specialized experts.
MD Anderson established the world's first IBC clinic in 2007 to treat women who've been treated before as well as those who are newly diagnosed. MD Anderson's doctors see more IBC patients than any other center in the world.
Ricardo H. Alvarez, M.D., is a breast medical oncologist in the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic.
By Sujit Prabhu, M.D.
Brain surgery requires precision and excellent judgement on part of the neurosurgeon for good patient outcomes. We neurosurgeons try to remove as much of the brain tumor as possible and return patients to their full functional capacity.
The most common type of brain surgery for a tumor is a craniotomy. On average, this operation, takes four to six hours. Below, I've answered some common questions about brain surgery.
How do you decide if a brain tumor patient needs surgery?
The decision depends on the patient's brain tumor symptoms, the tumor location and the type of tumor, if known. In a small number of patients with certain benign tumors no surgery is required. In most instances, however, we make the decision to operate at the initial visit and schedule the operation within seven to ten days.
What are the pre-operative procedures and medications for a craniotomy?
By Joey Tran, MD Anderson Staff Writer
Eddy Davis would have enjoyed teaching golf no matter what. But he has an appreciation for life, and health, that few pros can understand.
Since becoming a golf professional in 1994, Eddy Davis has excelled as a published golf illustrator and tournament calligrapher, an avid golfer who considers himself the "resident artist" at the Jimmy Clay-Roy Kizer Golf Complex in Austin, Texas.
Fear and questions
When he faced a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin B-cell lymphoma in 2003, he feared the unknown and had thousands of questions for his doctors. His golfing buddies. His wife. And himself.
But no one ever questioned the courage and determination that continues to prove the experts wrong.
By Linda Ryan
Yesterday, I visited with my 100-year-old grandmother, Nana.
By all accounts, she is a healthy woman. When she was 94, she told me in her mind she is 49, but her body says she is 94.
She lives a few miles away with my aunt and uncle. She can't be left alone as she isn't very agile or steady on her feet.
My uncle thinks her mind can move much faster than her body, which causes her to fall. That makes sense based on her self-evaluation at 94.
Nana has a home health aide who comes weekly for a few hours. The aid helps her with any jobs that she wants done.
Nana invited the aid to join her for lunch yesterday. I asked Nana what she wanted the aide to do for her while she was there. Nana said, "Well, I want to go for a walk." I told her that I thought it was impressive that, at 100 years old, she wanted to walk.
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- Preventive double mastectomy: A breast cancer survivor's take
- Donate blood and make yourself proud
- Cervical cancer patient: My journey from diagnosis to recurrence
- Celebrating my mom after her cancer diagnosis
- Teacher copes with cancer with student's support
- My ovarian cancer diagnosis: My journey to heal
- MD Anderson nurses: The heart of the hospital
- Meeting the geriatrician: A cancer diagnosis' silver lining
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer: How MD Anderson is leading the fight
- Q&A: Focus on brain surgery
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