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A monstrous art project. A groundbreaking lung cancer screening trial. Inspiring stories from our patients and caregivers. Our mission to end cancer. These are just a few of the topics that been popular on MD Anderson's YouTube channel in 2014.

To find out what you missed -- or rediscover some favorites -- check out our top five videos from 2014.

What drives MD Anderson to end cancer

What if we could end cancer? This is the bold idea that guides everything we do here at MD Anderson. Watch our patients, survivors, volunteers and employees describe the hope they feel here and share why they believe MD Anderson is the best place to treat and ultimately end cancer:



best of hope.jpgThroughout the past year, our cancer patients have shared stories of their challenges and trials while revealing their determination, spirit and strength. These stories give us all what we could always use a little bit more of: hope.

Here are some of our most inspiring stories of hope from 2014.

Infant leukemia survivor reflects on the hospital that raised me
A few months after 9-month-old Ivana Camarillo was diagnosed with infant leukemia, she received a cord blood transplant. Now, at age 15, she's helping other kids with cancer.

"Most people wonder why I do this and why I haven't just left cancer in my past," she says. "My answer is simple: I believe you should never forget where you came from." Read her story.

How a CML clinical trial and Gleevec saved my life

Mel Mann was a 37-year-old major in the U.S. Army when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. But he found hope in a phase I clinical trial for ST1571, now known as Gleevec. Sixteen years later, Mel is MD Anderson's longest living Gleevec patient. Read his story.

GillianKruse1216.jpgBy Gillian Kruse

My acute myeloid leukemia (AML) diagnosis came completely out of the blue for me. During the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010, I got my first annual physical in a few years simply because I'd recently started my first full-time job with benefits after graduating from college. In less than two weeks, what started as some slightly concerning bloodwork results turned into "You have an appointment at MD Anderson tomorrow morning."

Much of the afternoon and evening after I received my AML diagnosis was a blur for me, but I distinctly remember sitting on the floor in my living room and staring at the Christmas tree. We'd just put it up a few days earlier, and I wondered if that was the last time I'd get to do so.

My first days at MD Anderson for AML treatment
MD Anderson was all decked out for the holidays when I arrived for my first appointment -- trees in the waiting rooms, wreaths along the skybridge, paper snowflakes in the pharmacy. I still felt fine, though somewhat overwhelmed to be here amongst so many people who looked so sick when I didn't feel any different than I had a week earlier. I also was a little overwhelmed to be here  -- of all places -- during the holidays.

My doctors were all reassuring, kind and thorough. They helped me understand AML, and the whole team made sure my family and I understood my treatment plan. I enrolled in a clinical trial for my first round of chemotherapy, and then spent five days as an inpatient wondering how the treatments would affect me. My hair didn't fall out overnight, and I didn't have nausea, so I was hopeful that this cancer thing would be just a small hiccup and I'd be back at work in January.

holiday-gift-ideas.jpgFinding the right gift for your friends and family can be tough. It can be even tougher if they're undergoing cancer treatment or are caring for someone who is. After all, you may be trying to make the holidays extra special for them during a difficult time.

So, we asked our some of our bloggers -- who are cancer patients, survivors and caregivers themselves -- for their holiday gift recommendations. Here's what they said.

Books and magazines
"Days become long in the hospital, so a good book helps to pass the time and get your mind off of things," says Jennifer Martin, a melanoma caregiver. Books and magazines -- as well as tablets and other e-readers -- can be a great gift for patients and caregivers alike.

Wireless Bluetooth speaker or radio
Harley Hudson, a chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patient, used his wireless radio almost daily while he was in the hospital recovering from a stem cell transplant. The music helped lighten the mood and made him feel at home while staying in the hospital.

Carol Turni124.jpgBy Carol A. Turni

I never thought I'd hear the words: "You have breast cancer." But when I did, they turned out to be one of those moments that defined my life. At 44 years old and with two young daughters, my cancer diagnosis was a frightening and sobering call-to-action.  

Deciding to come to MD Anderson for breast cancer treatment

After my breast cancer diagnosis came the scurry of tests, surgeries, treatments and medicines at a hospital in the city where I live. But after a while, I realized things didn't seem right. My husband and I both decided it was time to seek breast cancer treatment elsewhere. 

That is how I found my way to MD Anderson, where I've received all of my care since then. I believe the corresponding change in my treatment course saved my life. I have consistently experienced the confidence and competency of my breast cancer care team. Their caring and the commitment to excellence is apparent. I am grateful.

My advice for traveling to MD Anderson
Traveling to MD Anderson isn't always easy, but it's worth it. Here are some tips that have made traveling for cancer treatment easier and more affordable for me:

christmascara.jpgBy Cara Sorrell

In December 2011, I was preparing for sarcoma surgery and knew I'd soon be using a wheelchair or walker.

With all that ahead of me, I was dreading spending the holidays in the hospital. After 25 rounds of radiation as part of my sarcoma treatment, hadn't I already been through enough? I was only 21 years old, and I wanted my freedom and to be able to enjoy my favorite time of year with my family and friends as I always had.

To my surprise, this is exactly what I got, thanks to MD Anderson.

Finding the holiday spirit at MD Anderson after sarcoma surgery
As I had expected, my life was very different -- and very restricted -- after my sarcoma surgery. However, I was able to enjoy the holidays just as much as I had in the past. MD Anderson is such a special place to be during the holidays.

Once I started to feel a little better after my sarcoma surgery, I began to notice all the holiday decorations at MD Anderson. I remember when my parents took me on a holiday sightseeing tour around the hospital. I couldn't handle being out of my room for very long, but for the short time I could be, we made sure that every minute counted. I especially loved the wreaths displayed on the skybridge. There was so much spirit and creativity put into those works of art! 

By Kristine Keeny

For many, the holidays mean food and fun with friends and family. But for us cancer patients and survivors, the holidays mean the stress that comes with dealing with all those things.

During my sarcoma treatment, I had to go out of my way to avoid small children and anyone who looked like they might have a cold at holiday events. Even now that I've completed sarcoma treatment, I have to avoid a long list of vegetables and all dairy products. 

But along the way I've learned how to get by during the holidays. Here are my tips for cancer patients and survivors on staying healthy during the holidays. Try them, and you might start some fun new traditions at the same time.

1. Ask your health care team for advice. Your medical team will be able to guide you when it comes to what you have to drop completely and what you can have "just a little of." If you're on a special diet, ask about alternatives. I was told to try tofurkey instead of a regular turkey so I could avoid some of the ingredients commonly added to turkey. It worked for me, and I don't have to worry about offending anyone. 

maryginley312.jpgBy Mary Ginley

Last fall, I had trouble swallowing. I assumed it was acid reflux and went to the doctor for some swallow tests. My doctor also suspected it was acid reflex. That afternoon, he called to say we were both wrong.

"It's bad, Mary. It's esophageal cancer. You need an endoscopy and biopsy immediately, and you need to clear your calendar. It's going to be rough."

I remember sitting down, stunned. I had never heard of esophageal cancer. While I always go into a mammogram braced for the worst, it hadn't occurred to me that the swallowing tests could reveal something equally serious.

After my endoscopy the next day, the doctor sat down with my husband and me. He said there was a mass in my esophagus that had gone into the esophageal wall, and that at least one lymph node was involved.

"I'm sending you for PET scan and CT scan. That will tell us more," he said. "If it's spread further, chemotherapy will give you a little more time."

"Wait," I told him. "I need a LOT more time."

Giving thanks after esophageal cancer

That was a year ago. And, it looks as if I'm going to get a LOT more time. But no one really knows, do they?  All we have is this moment, this hour, this day.  I'd love to have a lot more time, but if I don't, I am ever so grateful for the time I have had. 

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but my true Thanksgiving is October 29, the anniversary of my esophageal cancer diagnosis. I have so much to be thankful for on this anniversary.

amanda1119.jpgBy Amanda Woodward

Sometimes I ponder the inevitable conversation with my kids about my melanoma diagnosis. I know I can dodge the subject for a while and chalk the frequent check-ups up to simply that -- check-ups. At some point, though, I will have to share that "mommy had melanoma" and all that it means.

YUCK! Not a day that I look forward to and certainly not something I'm prepared for.

But my melanoma journey has taught me a thing or two about sun safety and caring for my skin, and I want to share that knowledge with my kids.

Here's a short list of things I hope our kids come to know about sun safety and their skin.

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. You can read my previous entries here.

I used to own a primitive flight simulator that I ran using the keyboard. I could take off and fly any airplane on the list. What I couldn't do was land. I had two problems: I was ignorant of the process, and I was impatient. I had never flown before, so I had no idea what was involved.

My stem cell transplant experience -- a part of my chronic lymphocyctic leukemia (CLL) treatment -- was much like using the flight stimulator. Pre-flight was like all those tests leading up to my stem cell transplant. Takeoff was Day 0 when the transplant actually began -- and when there could be turbulence in the lower atmosphere. Things generally smoothed out at cruising altitude a few weeks later.

Now, I'm focused on landing -- in other words, going home.

Preparing to leave the hospital after my stem cell transplant
The landing started when medications change from IV to pills. This was the beginning of the 90-day restaging. The SCT Survivor's class was ordered. Chest X-rays were taken. PET scans, CT scans, bone marrow biopsies were all scheduled. It seemed like we are starting all over again.

1113Rita.jpgBy Rita Avila

Not too long ago, one of my good friends got hitched and, over a year later, got married to the man of her dreams. It was a gorgeous wedding, and I was extremely happy for her, but it made me think: Am I ever going to get married?

As if dating weren't tricky enough, I have the added pressure of telling any guy I'm interested in that I've had tongue cancer and I still have the scars, the feeding tube and the follow-up appointments that came along with it.

Telling others about my tongue cancer treatment
Sometimes the idea of dating is scarier than cancer itself. Specifically, the idea of telling someone, "Hi, I'm Rita, and I've had cancer." No matter how hard I try, I can't make it sound remotely sexy or badass.

I've even tried, "Hi, I'm Rita, and I kicked cancer's ass." Nope. Still, nothing. I think most guys would either turn around and walk out, or feel sorry for me. And the last thing I need is for someone to look at me like, "Bless your poor little cancer-having soul," and feel pity for me. I don't need your pity, hot guy! I want you to think I'm sexy. But alas, sexy and cancer don't really go well together in the same sentence.

1112jamimayberry.jpgBy Jami Mayberry

When I was first diagnosed with vulvar cancer, I wasn't sure what journey lie ahead of me. So many decisions to make.

When my doctor, Patricia Eifel, M.D., laid out my radiation treatment plan, it seemed rather long. But I thought I could do it. Then she decided to add chemotherapy once a week as well. So, on Mondays, I got radiation in the morning and chemo for five hours in the afternoon. Mondays were very long days.

Stressing over my vulvar cancer treatment

About three weeks into my treatments, I began to feel agitated and began to suffer from vulvar cancer treatment side effects. I didn't want to have cancer. I didn't want chemo and the weakness and nausea that go with it.

I didn't want the endless IV insertions. I have small veins anyway and it was painful to find one. They didn't give me a port because I was scheduled for only six chemo cycles.

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