I was relieved to know I could continue to come to MD Anderson The Woodlands for my post-surgery therapy. I was 72 at the time, and only my older brother was available to drive me to my appointments. We couldn’t have managed the two-hour drive to MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center Campus from my home in Onalaska, Texas, five days a week for four months. MD Anderson The Woodlands was significantly closer, making it much easier for me to get to and from my appointments.
Finding peace of mind – and support through side effects
When I started chemo and radiation therapy, I had a lot of questions about my treatment. I was very fortunate to have a care team that explained every step of the process; this took a lot of worry off my mind. I didn’t have to wonder why something was being done; the care team kept me abreast of every aspect of my treatment, explaining every detail with compassion, humor and kindness. They reassured me, which alleviated much of the fear I had before beginning chemo and radiation therapy.
When the side effects of radiation therapy started to take their toll, the staff did everything they could to help me. The location of my cancer made it difficult to sit or lie down after radiation therapy. My care team tried to put me in several positions to help mitigate the intense burning sensation and encouraged me to sit in warm water for 5-10 minutes after every treatment. That soaking suggestion made all the difference in soothing my pain. I was also prescribed penicillin for the third-degree burns that developed on my stomach and given pain medications to reduce my discomfort.
A caring environment
I really appreciated the staff’s attentiveness.
Early in my treatment, I was given a chemo pump (with thorough explanations how to use it), which I loved because it allowed me to continue my treatment at home. Shortly after I began using the pump, it started leaking. I called my care team and they told me they would have a replacement pump ready and waiting for me ASAP. When I arrived at MD Anderson The Woodlands, the nurses raced to replace the pump and were very apologetic as they washed the chemo leakage off my arms, hands and legs. I was overwhelmed by their caring and compassion; the experience felt like I was being taken care of by family. It was amazing.
And the staff cared for me beyond my medical needs. Midway through my treatment, I was struggling to cope with the stress of cancer and everything else happening in my life. When I voiced my temptation to give up, the nurses encouraged me to keep fighting. Each time I went to MD Anderson, they would stop by to chat and comfort me during my infusions, which made my experience all the more wonderful. Even though they had other patients to care for, I never felt alone. My MD Anderson family truly did everything they could to comfort me and keep me from slipping into depression.
I’ve been cancer-free since June, and I don’t think I could’ve come this far without the support of my family and my care team at MD Anderson The Woodlands.
A cancer diagnosis is the beginning of a journey that is full of fear, uncertainty and unknowns. The professionalism, compassion and kindness (mixed with a lot of hugs and laughter) of my care team and the entire staff at MD Anderson The Woodlands made my cancer journey a lot less frightening. My successful treatment and recovery from anal cancer is proof that if you are in the right atmosphere, even in the midst of darkness, there is joy and hope.
From the first time I walked into the front door of MD Anderson The Woodlands to this moment, I am truly thankful for both quality of care I received and the endless encouragement I was given. I believe, without hesitation, the positive outcome of my cancer journey is the result of the benevolence and compassion I received during my therapy at MD Anderson The Woodlands. For that positive experience, I’m truly thankful.