I worked in broadcast TV news for more than 40 years before retiring last summer, so I’ve done a lot of stories about different hospitals. But I have never seen anything else like MD Anderson in my entire career.
MD Anderson works like a well-oiled machine. It really is that simple. All hospitals should be run that way.
Here are just a few of the things that make it such a special place.
Unparalleled cancer expertise
When I was initially diagnosed with melanoma in May 2012, I was living in Tyler, a city about 100 miles southeast of Dallas. The first local doctor I saw looked at me and said, “Look. I gotta tell you. I know nothing about this cancer.”
Then the radiation oncologist walked in with a folded up piece of paper. And he said, “Your type of cancer is not very well-known, but I just got this off the internet, so here’s what we’re going to do.”
I appreciated those doctors’ honesty, but I needed something a little more confidence-inspiring. That’s why I came to MD Anderson. I ended up being treated by world-renowned radiation oncologist Dr. Gunar Zagars (now deceased) and one of the pioneers in melanoma, Dr. Wen-Jen Hwu (now retired).
Today, I’m working with oncologist Dr. Rodabe Amaria, dermatologist Dr. Kelly Nelson and pulmonary specialist Dr. Roberto Casal. But regardless of who my doctors are, when I get off the elevators at MD Anderson and see the signs on that floor for melanoma or lymphoma, it really is the most impressive thing. It makes you realize that your particular type of cancer is all they do.
Quick and personal communications about your cancer care
When you have cancer, you want to know your test results immediately. You don’t want to sit around waiting a week or two to find out what’s going on. Because you might not be able to eat or sleep in the interim, just for worrying about it.
At MD Anderson, I normally get my test results within 24 hours — sometimes even sooner. I’ve gotten several test results back on the same afternoon or evening of the morning that I had them done. I love that!
I also appreciate that you don’t ever see a doctor walking into your room looking at their laptop. They come in and greet you and make eye contact first — and then they keep on doing it, even while they’re taking notes. Do you know what a big deal that is?
Cancer patients need that kind of face time with their doctors. Because it’s your life they’re talking about. So, just the fact that they’re not sitting there looking at a laptop the whole time is a huge deal. It shows that they see you as a person, not just a disease or a number.
I love having this MD Anderson location so close to my home. I live in Clear Lake, so it’s only 15 minutes away. Plus, it’s a gorgeous new facility. It’s really bright and welcoming.
I love that I can leave my house, get my blood work done, then scoot home to have lunch. After that, I’ll do a virtual visit with my doctor and go back in to MD Anderson League City for the infusion, which takes about 30 minutes. The whole thing from start to finish only takes me a couple of hours. It’s great!
But there are hundreds of clinical trials at MD Anderson at any given time, and I take comfort in knowing that there’s such a dedicated team of specialists working on cutting-edge treatments just down the road from me. Someday, something they’re working on now will be a new treatment option for future patients. And it’s going to be even better than what’s available today. That’s phenomenal.