Welcome to the International Center
Find out how we can help you become a patient at MD Anderson
Hundreds of patients come to Houston from other countries every year seeking world-class cancer treatment at MD Anderson. We completely understand the difficulty of traveling to a country where you may be unfamiliar with the language and culture. MD Anderson’s International Center is here to help you make a smooth transition to the United States and provide support at every step of your cancer journey.
From the moment you contact MD Anderson, you will be assigned an international patient representative who speaks your language and can guide you through appointment preparations, visa assistance, travel to Houston and more.
International Center services include:
The Department of Language Assistance has certified interpreters for the following languages:
We also provide interpreters for languages not listed, but a 24-hour notice is required. Telephone interpreter service is available 24/7 for Spanish and Arabic. Telecommunications devices (TDD) are available for deaf or hard-of-hearing patients. Language Assistance services are requested by the International Center staff for new patients and by the clinical team at the time of need for current and returning patients.
The International Center is ready to answer your questions or help you make an appointment.
Toll-free from Mexico & Canada: 800-811-6167
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., central U.S. time zone
The International Center is located in the Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near The Tree Sculpture, room ACB2.2251.
In early 2018, my husband, Guillermo, wanted to participate in an IRONMAN competition near our home in Quito, Ecuador. A blood test during the qualifying physical that showed he was anemic. In March, follow-up blood work revealed that my 48-year-old husband had multiple myeloma.
His primary doctor explained to us what treatment would be involved. We discovered that we had international insurance that would cover the treatment in the United States. We explored many hospitals, but through our research and our local doctors, we found MD Anderson and Luis Eduardo Fayad, M.D. He became our angel in Houston.
It is not easy to start this journey. It is difficult to accept that cancer has hit your family and there are so many logistical hurdles to figure out when you are traveling internationally. It can be daunting to buy plane tickets, look for places to stay and rent a car in another country. But the International Center at MD Anderson guided us through the process, and we started to feel secure and at ease when we walked through the doors of MD Anderson.
Our first visits involved lab tests, biopsies, imaging and appointments with our multidisciplinary care team. My husband’s diagnosis, stage I multiple myeloma, was confirmed, and we learned that he needed a stem cell transplant. That was when we met Krina Patel, M.D., who gave us faith and hope.
Making Houston our home during myeloma treatment
My husband and I traveled with our three children and planned to spend the summer in Houston for his autologous stem cell transplant and recovery. Prior to the transplant, he completed four cycles of chemotherapy with a combination of bortezomib, ienalidomide and dexamethasone.
His stem cell transplant was performed by Partow Kebriaei, M.D., in July 2018. In the first few days following the transplant, Guillermo felt good. After about a week, he experienced flu-like symptoms, a loss of appetite and fatigue. Thankfully, the more intense side effects subsided within a few weeks, and he was discharged from the hospital.
After that, we traveled to Houston every three months. Now, we know everyone -- nurses, practitioners, doctors, and assistants from the Lymphoma and Myeloma Center. If we ever have questions, there is always a friendly face willing to help. My husband does not speak much English, but so many hospital staff are able to communicate and connect with him despite the language barrier. When we are home in Ecuador, we use MyChart frequently to keep in contact with Guillermo’s care team, and he continues to take lenalidomide for maintenance.
Surrounded by compassion
At times, it can be overwhelming to be a caregiver. But at MD Anderson I saw that there were so many people going through the same thing. There is an atmosphere of compassion, and that helped me to stay strong in solidarity with other families.
We have spent a summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas and many other important celebrations outside our country. We’ve explored Houston during our trips and found out how many fun things there are to do. We have been to Galveston, the Houston Zoo, Space Center Houston, seen the Nutcracker and eaten many delicious meals. Texans are kind people. We have found out that even in difficult times, they offer you a smile.
Houston feels like home to us now, and MD Anderson is our safe place.
Staying connected as a family has helped us through cancer treatment
Staying together helped us navigate the difficult times. We were able to direct our energy, prayer and positivity to my husband during his treatment. We placed notes all over Guillermo’s hospital room with uplifting phrases – “You are a hero, you can do it, you are warrior.”
After his stem cell transplant, my husband was exhausted. Our children created games to encourage their dad to take a walk around the hospital floor or motivate him to complete other tasks. We are not currently traveling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is my husband’s ultimate goal to one day be able to ring the bell at MD Anderson, surrounded by his family.
It may sound strange, but we will never forget all the memories that we made as a family during my husband’s cancer journey. We are thankful for the opportunities that we have when we travel to the United States and now, we appreciate what really matters.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
Due to our response to COVID-19, all blood donations at MD Anderson
Blood Donor Center locations are being held by appointment only.