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Steinberg Exchanges Invincibility for Hope

Conquest - Summer 2009

By Mary Jane Schier

The power of hope was instilled in Amir Steinberg, M.D., from the day he arrived at M. D. Anderson shortly before Thanksgiving 1992.

Then 17 and a senior at Bellaire (Texas) High School, Steinberg had thought he was “invincible” until diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a type of lymphoma that attacks the body’s lymphatic system. That attitude changed during months of chemotherapy and radiation.

Amir Steinberg, M.D.

Throughout his treatments, Steinberg adopted the advice of Fredrick Hagemeister, M.D., now professor in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma, who coordinated his care and continues to follow his progress.

“He told me to always have hope, never feel sorry for myself, to continue pursuing my dreams and not let cancer get in the way of living normally,” recalls Steinberg, who now dispenses similar counsel to his patients.

Today, Steinberg is a hematologist/oncologist in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and the Outpatient Cancer Center of the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He and his wife, Courtney, were “thrilled” when daughter Sophie was born last October.

“Thanks to Dr. Hagemeister, I think I learned how to be a good doctor. I spend a lot of time with my patients and really listen to them,” Steinberg says. “Because I’ve been there, I understand how they feel. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow, so I tell each one to enjoy every day to the fullest.”

He also is grateful for the Children’s Art Project scholarships that helped him graduate magna cum laude from The University of Texas at Austin and while earning his medical degree at Texas Tech University School of Medicine. His interest in the field of transplantation was solidified while working in a laboratory one summer with Steven Kornblau, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.

During a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Steinberg took time to describe what hope has meant to him in a poem that was published by Oncology Times in 2005.

“Everyone deserves hope,” he says.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center