Coming to M. D. Anderson: a video from kids to kids!

From Children's Cancer Hospital
Date: Fall 2007
Duration: 09:54

Anna:
When she was 16 Rebekah thought that a lump on her throat was mono. A biopsy showed that it was cancer.

Rebekah:
I'd heard about cancer but I didn't really know the full meaning of what you had to do for cancer, I think...

Anna:
When he was 5, Nick found out that he had acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. That was over 10 years ago at M. D. Anderson.

Nick:
After a while sometimes, when you do get sick really bad, you feel like, ”Oh, no. I might have to go back into the hospital.” But sometimes it's a good thing that you go back to the hospital and not be afraid; that the hospital’s still there for you. 

Anna:
When she had just turned 11, Lauren found out she had a big tumor on her liver … a type of cancer that very few people get.

Lauren:
It was like a bittersweet birthday gift. It was just really a turning point, and it was really a wake-up call thinking about it. This is really serious. Something really bad could happen.

Anna:
When she was 12, Shelby was having surgery to take out a bump on her bone when the doctor discovered cancer in her foot.

Shelby:
I thought, you know, was there something I did to get this cancer? I mean, could I, was it something in my activities? Could I have done something differently to prevent this?

Anna:
When Hazim was 8, he found out he had a type of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.

Hazim:
Everybody’s scared at first. It’s just you have to get used to it, and  when you come here, you won't be scared anymore.

Anna:
At age 13, Anna was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. She had to have surgery and chemotherapy.

That little girl is all grown up now. And that little girl is me. And now I work with kids who have cancer in the Children's Cancer Hospital here at M. D. Anderson. Being told that you have cancer can be scary at first. But there are some things that you can do and that we will do to make things less scary. You just met Rebekah, Nick, Lauren, Shelby and Hazim, and they're going to tell you what its like to come to M. D. Anderson and let you know some of the things that they did while they were here.

When you first come to M. D. Anderson, it may seem like a very big place, but just remember that every single person here is here to help you.

Rebekah:
When I first came here, I was lost all the time. I thought it was scary sometimes seeing so many people without hair. And now, I know the valet parking people, I know the policeman at the front of the door, I know every... you wouldn't think walking in the halls you would see so many people that you know. And it’s really not a scary place. It’s such a hopeful place and it’s warm and people, people appreciate each day that they're here. There's tons of smiles everywhere, and some people might not think that when they first come here, but it really is one of my favorite places to be. It’s my home away from home.

Anna:
One of your first stops will be to meet your doctor at the Robin Bush Child and Adolescent Clinic. You may have a lot of questions, especially at first. Shelby did, too.

Rebekah:
I'd heard about cancer but I didn't really know the full meaning of what you had to do for cancer, I think...

Shelby:
My first question was, am I going to die? Am I going to lose my hair, you know. What's going to happen?

Anna:
It’s normal to have questions, and we want you to ask us. We have doctors, nurses, Child Life workers, counselors and a lot of other people here to give you answers. We're on your team. So help us help you. 

Rebekah:
I kind of just ask the doctors about my cancer, and they inform me about everything. No questions are stupid.

Hazim:
If you're going to have a procedure, talk to you parents, or Child Life , or your doctors because they can help, and they'll tell you what exactly you're going to be going through.

Anna:
There are a lot of different kinds of cancers that affect kids, and there are a lot of different treatments, like surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Not everyone needs every kind of treatment. Some kids may need them all.

Lauren:
Each cancer is different. Nobody, I don't think anybody, has the same kind of medicine because your body, everybody's body, works differently.

Anna:
Nick had to have a bone marrow transplant as well as chemotherapy, or chemo.

Nick:
Well, chemotherapy really drains you. You do lose your hair after a while, but yes, it does grow back.

Shelby:
Being a girl, my biggest concern was losing my hair right off. Because you know, nobody wants to be the bald kid, especially a girl.

Lauren:
I had a bandana or a scarf in every color. I wore it with every outfit and every uniform and everything.

Anna:
Your doctor and nurse will talk to you and your parents about what's best for you and explain the different kinds of treatment.

Sometimes, you'll have to stay overnight. The Children's Cancer Hospital at M. D. Anderson has a special floor just for kids.

Rebekah:
When I was an inpatient, I would bring all my pajamas. I brought my duvet comforter from home. I brought my pillows.

Nick:
When I was in there, I had brought mostly my stuffed animals with me.

Hazim:
The most important to remember when you’re coming to the hospital is to bring something that entertains you, to find out what's happening and to make friends.

Shelby:
I think my number one advice would definitely be to reach out and meet the kids that are going through the experience with you and that actually know what you're going through. And you guys can hang out and talk to each other about what you're going through.

Anna:
There are fun places to be and fun things to do at the hospital while you're here. This is the PediDome, where we have parties, art and music classes and lots of other fun activities.

Hazim:
Some of my favorite things to do at the hospital are to play basketball, sit in the Teen Room, watch TV, go on the computer … you know … teenager things.

Anna:
Another special place for older kids is Kim's Place.

Hazim:
I want to do anything that takes my mind off my cancer, cause I'm not thinking about cancer.

Anna:
There are even fun activities away from the hospital for you and your brothers and sisters. Day trips take you to places close to the hospital, even to a ball game. And field trips take you to places a little farther away. In the summer, there's Camp Star Trails for younger kids.

Lauren:
I loved camp. It just took away knowing that you are a kid with cancer. You could do everything.

Nick:
If you do get a chance to go, go. Because it's a place where you can be yourself and just have fun.

Anna:
And there's camp A.O.K. for teenagers. Shelby's brother Shea, went with her to that camp.

Shea:
It’s so much fun and there were siblings that were going through the same things that I was going through. Having to be supportive and everything. So...

Anna:
Shea also went with Shelby on M. D. Anderson’s annual ski trip for patients with an amputation.

Shelby:
Being a new amputee, it kind of gives you the cue to make your life normal again. And you can be active and do everything anybody else can do, so it’s really great.

Anna:
You may wonder about school and how you're going to keep up. We have teachers and classrooms here at the hospital and we'll work together with you, your family, and your school to take care of things.

Hazim:
 The schoolwork is just the same as back in regular school. Same tests, same everything.

Shelby:
They have teachers for junior high, high school, all different subjects and that really helped because, I mean, I was falling behind in my schoolwork and if I ever needed help, the teachers were always there to help me out or explain something or help me with my homework. So that really helped.

Anna:
Even after you finish your cancer treatment, we have programs to keep an eye on you and help you if you have any problems. For over 50 years, M. D. Anderson has taken care of people like you and me. The goal of the Children's Hospital at M. D. Anderson is making cancer history … for kids, too.

Lauren:
I think this was probably the best place to be because their main problem that they deal with is cancer. So, you could have the oddest type of cancer in the world, but they still, they’re like, oh, I've heard of that. I've done some research on that cancer.

Rebekah:
The doctors really help you keep your hope up. There are ton of nurses and doctors and Child Life people that I have formed relationships with. My nurses, I would say, are my best friends, and I mean this hospital isn't anything without the people that work here. The nurses, the doctors, Child Life people, it just makes a world of difference to me.

Lauren:
You might be shocked, but you could go, leaving the hospital a whole new person, because they’re very loving and caring and they're just very sweet and all.