Stage IV colorectal cancer survivor: How I know MD Anderson is the best
Wade Mason Jr.
Last year was an emotional rollercoaster for me. In May, I found out I had colorectal cancer after my first colonoscopy. June brought the relief of thinking I didn’t have it anymore, because I had surgery locally to remove most of my colon and my gallbladder.
Then, in July, came the sinking feeling of learning that the cancer had already spread. It was in my liver, too, making it stage IV instead of stage I.
My local surgeon didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with the complex additional surgery I needed. He told me that only a few hospitals were even set up to handle that type of procedure. MD Anderson was one of them.
I work as a basketball coach at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, which is only about a two-hour drive away from Houston. And MD Anderson is known nationally and even around the world for its cancer care. I called for an appointment.
Once I got to Houston, I was optimistic. I had heard that MD Anderson was the best, so I felt pretty confident I’d be in good hands. Today, I know that to be true. Because I had all the rest of my treatments there, and now, I feel great. I have also been cancer-free since March.
The first person I met with at MD Anderson was medical oncologist Dr. Bryan Kee. He was very confident and encouraging. He recommended six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and then six more rounds of chemotherapy.
That sounded like a good plan, so I started chemotherapy in August 2019. Dr. Jean-Nicolas Vauthey, who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers, performed my liver surgery on Dec. 19, 2019. I finished my last round of chemotherapy in mid-March, just two days after the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down.
My life today, after colorectal cancer treatment
It took me about six months to get back to 100% after I finished my treatments. But in some ways, I feel like I’m in better shape now than I was before I was diagnosed. I work out twice a day, ride my bike, run and lift weights. I do everything I did before and more.
Still, I’m not going to lie. There were times during chemotherapy when I was absolutely miserable. And I wasn’t sure if things were going to work out.
I lost my hair, had balance problems, and experienced neuropathy, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. Some days, it felt like there was nothing good about my cancer treatment at all. But I didn’t care what it cost me, physically. I just wanted to get healthy.
As it turns out, my treatments worked. And all of my side effects are gone. So, looking back now, I’m not glad I went through it, but I am glad I made it. And I’m really glad I went to MD Anderson.
I don’t think there’s a better place to get treated for cancer than MD Anderson. My treatment there was hard. But my last two scans were clear. And I’m feeling really good now. To me, that speaks for itself.