December 14, 2017
4 things every parent should know about MD Anderson
BY Jennifer Robinson
As the parent of a cancer patient, when you first step through the doors of MD Anderson, you’re terrified. You’re not supposed to be here. Much less for your child.
But when our daughter Elise was diagnosed with osteosarcoma — a type of bone cancer — in 2014, we quickly realized that all of the people who work there are gentle and compassionate. And I’m not just talking about the doctors and nurses. I’m talking about the parking attendants, security guards, cafeteria workers and cleaning staff. They all seem to have a full understanding that if you’re at MD Anderson, you may quite possibly be having the worst day of your life.
That’s just one of the reasons I encourage anyone whose child has been diagnosed with cancer to go there first. Here are four more things every parent should know.
MD Anderson treats children
The first thing to know about MD Anderson is that it treats children. I run into a surprising number of people who don’t realize that. In fact, children have their own hospital within a hospital at the Texas Medical Center location: MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. It’s on its own floor there. And it’s not just an adult-size facility downsized to fit children. It was designed specifically for kids.
If your child has cancer, you want them to go to a cancer hospital, not necessarily a children’s hospital. The MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital is both, so it’s a great place to be.
MD Anderson has child life specialists
MD Anderson also has child life specialists. These are people who are dedicated exclusively to your child. So, if there’s a procedure coming up that your child doesn’t understand, a child life specialist can come in and explain it in terms they can. And if you can make our child understand and stay calm, then that helps us, too.
MD Anderson has an art teacher
Another good thing about MD Anderson is that it has a dedicated art teacher who works exclusively with children. She has complete freedom, so she can teach a class, start a project, or go into a child’s room and work with him or her individually.
When our daughter Elise was receiving chemotherapy as an inpatient at MD Anderson, she drew, painted, and made pottery with that teacher. She even created a submission for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo art competition. At one point, the teacher even spent two hours in Elise’s hospital room, working just with her. It was really neat.
There are fun activities just for kids
It’s not good for patients either physically or mentally to be stuck in their rooms all the time. We wanted Elise to move around while she was healing from surgery and getting chemotherapy, so we were grateful for the many other activities that MD Anderson had scheduled for us to enjoy.
Every Monday is bingo night at MD Anderson. And Elise would usually be admitted for chemo on Mondays. So while it really stunk that she would have to get hooked up for chemo right afterward, beforehand, she got to have an hour of fun and win some prizes.
There was also live music to listen to and other performances to watch. We really enjoyed them. And it’s little things like that that can make all the difference.
MD Anderson depends on the generous support of donors to fund our groundbreaking cancer research and patient support programs that benefit patients like Elise. Make your gift today.
If you can make our child understand and stay calm, then that helps us, too.