Multiple myeloma survivor: My treatment at MD Anderson made me proud to be a nurse
Taking care of cancer patients isn’t easy. And I should know, because I serve as the chief nursing officer at a regional hospital system near my home in southern Louisiana.
I also know that people have plenty of choices about where to go for cancer treatment. But when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2015, I chose MD Anderson. And I would do it again in a New York minute.
Why I chose MD Anderson for my multiple myeloma treatment
Once I got to MD Anderson, I felt very well taken care of. And because I work in health care, I almost felt like a secret shopper. Many times I found myself thinking, “Oooh. I love the way you did this! I’m going to take that back with me to my job.”
For instance, I loved how the patient transporters would introduce themselves, tell me how long it would take to arrive at my destination, and describe anything unusual I might experience along the way (such as a loud popping noise as a stretcher adjusted to my weight).
I also loved how the housekeeping personnel would always ask if they could come in and if it was a good time to clean my room. I really appreciated the ability to order meals whenever I was hungry, too, as that gave me back some sense of control over my schedule. And the teamwork and compassion displayed by the nursing staff was truly outstanding. They helped me with whatever I needed — even if I wasn’t one of their assigned patients.
Simple explanations helped me understand my multiple myeloma treatment
I also liked that my doctors spoke to me using plain language. That was important, because when you first hear the word “cancer,” everything after that is just Greek — even if you work in health care. Your brain is racing at 100 miles an hour, your spouse is asking questions, and it’s hard to think clearly or even understand what’s being said to you.
I appreciated that my doctors didn’t assume I knew anything. They spoke to me in layman’s terms, and answered both all of my questions and all of my husband’s questions. And when I’d send them an email through MyChart, I’d usually get a response in less than 24 hours. That was extremely comforting.
A humbling experience that also made me feel proud
It was very humbling to be on the other side of the stethoscope. Before my multiple myeloma diagnosis, I barely ever took an aspirin. And as a nurse, I was always the giver, never the receiver. So, having people trying to help me all the time when I was a patient was strange. I’d never really seen that side of things before.
I’m pretty independent, so I still pushed my own IV pole around and picked up after myself. But I was so grateful for the quality of care I received at MD Anderson. I felt comfortable and safe the entire time I was there. And my physicians were extremely attentive. The staff was amazing, too. They were empathetic and passionate about what they do.
In fact, they were so good at their jobs that they made me feel proud to be a member of the health care profession, too. So, even if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t make a different choice.