December 22, 2016
Best of Cancerwise 2016: Cancer patient and survivor stories
BY MD Anderson
This past year, dozens of MD Anderson patients and survivors shared their cancer journeys with us. In the process, they’ve shared their strength, wisdom and, best of all, hope.
Here are nine of our most-read patients and survivor stories from 2016.
Li-Fraumeni Syndrome survivor: 'Don't let cancer define you'
After her fourth cancer diagnosis, Lainie Jones came to MD Anderson, where she learned she has Li-Fraumeni syndrome. This rare genetic mutation means cancer will be a permanent fixture in her life. "Learning I had Li-Fraumeni actually put me at ease," Lainie says. "I finally understood why I kept getting cancer. With this genetic information, my doctors know to monitor me very closely, which I am thankful for." Read her story.
Surviving stage IV colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer doesn't run in Stacey Betancourt's family, so she never expected her own diagnosis at age 27. But as Stacey now tells others, "Colorectal cancer can affect even young adults like myself. Listening to your body and being proactive about your health can save your life. I know it saved mine." Learn about her colorectal cancer journey.
After she’d been cancer-free for 23 years, Britta Fortson’s world was turned upside down when her ocular melanoma – a rare eye cancer – returned and metastasized to her liver. But thanks to an immunotherapy clinical trial, her tumors are shrinking. "Dr. Sapna Patel calls me a 'responder,' which is a much better label than 'stage IV,'" she says. Read Britta’s story.
Surviving glioblastoma after war
Though Tate Landin’s brain tumor symptoms began before he’d deployed to Afghanistan, the U.S. Army first lieutenant served his tour of duty before returning home safe, but not quite sound. “He came home from one battle to fight another,” says his wife Jessica. Find out about Tate’s glioblastoma journey.
What I've gone through: Why I support the HPV vaccine
When it comes to protecting our children against HPV cancers like hers, recurrent cervical cancer survivor Linda Ryan wants to make sure the outside world understands exactly what the HPV vaccine prevents. That includes not cancer and its treatment, but everything that comes along with it – the constipation, the nausea for months on end, time lost as a parent, the fear and uncertainty, the physical and emotional turmoil, and the anguish of telling loved ones about a cancer diagnosis. "I hope that when other parents read about my experience, they’ll understand exactly what’s at stake – and what they can easily prevent," Linda writes. Learn what Linda has gone through.
Nurse: Having thyroid cancer made me a better caregiver
As research nurse in Melanoma Medical Oncology at MD Anderson, Karen Mae Perdon has a lot of experience with cancer. But her connection became a lot more personal when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2014. “Having thyroid cancer has given me deeper insight to what my patients go through,” Perdon says. “It’s made me a better caregiver and nurse. I now have confidence to hold my patients’ hands and say, ‘I’ve been there and conquered it. You can, too.’” Read her story.
Thriving after my bone marrow transplant
For acute myeloid leukemia survivor Lillian Dooies, corresponding with her anonymous donor was one of the highlights of her bone marrow transplant recovery. Since then, Lillian and her donor, Jenny, have traveled across the country to see each other. Recently, they even visited MD Anderson together. "Our connection is deep, not just in the DNA way, but in a heartfelt, loving way," Lillian says. Find out more about their story.
How Nivolumab and Bevacizumab gave us hope
When Rick Frantz first started an immunotherapy clinical trial at MD Anderson, he told Matthew Campbell, M.D., that he was going to be his star pupil. "I didn’t believe it at the time, but I do now," writes his wife, Dixie Frantz. Read Rick’s immunotherapy success story.
Clinical trial gives Houston patient hope
Like many people, Houstonian Gail Barr thought of clinical trials as a last resort. “I was surprised when a clinical trial was offered as a first treatment,” says Gail, who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer three years ago. “If you’re ever offered a clinical trial, don’t dismiss it, or you may be missing out on a new drug that is very good.” Read about Gail’s experience with her clinical trial.
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