Sandra Durrett of Sugar Land, Texas, first came to MD Anderson in 1962 when her mother was treated for ovarian cancer. Little did she know forty-six years later, she would be back as a patient.
In the summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that is treatable but cannot be cured. I was not really surprised because I had been feeling different for many months.
My first reaction was, "What is this strange cancer?" At the urging of my family, I sought a second opinion.
Naturally, I chose MD Anderson. It was not a hard decision because MD Anderson is one of the top ten cancer treatment centers in the whole world and I only live 25 minutes away.
Sharing laughter and smiles
It was while I was waiting to see Dr. Shah that I met a woman who has become one of my best friends, Deb.
She's from Louisiana and has a similar cancer to mine. We have the same faith, and we have both accepted our disease and are making the best of the situation.
We have laughed our way through the halls of MD Anderson. One of our goals as we walk through the institution is to compliment someone, hoping to make them smile.
It works every time.
Support on the journey
Deb has been with me at most of my appointments and procedures, as I have been there for her.
When I had to have a stem cell transplant this past summer, Deb was one of my prayer partners.
My two daughters and my son were also a strong part of my support group. Their care, concern and prayers were very much appreciated.
Your support group is one of the most, if not the most important, group of people you can have as you travel the road of cancer treatment.
Reflection and advice
The stem cell transplant went great. As I am writing this, I am 56 days out from the procedure, enjoying the comfort of my home.
I dreaded going down the path of stem cell transplantation. It took me about 4 1/2 months to finally make the decision to proceed.
But I cannot sing the praises of my whole team enough. Dr. Robert Orlowski, Dr. Nina Shah and all the other doctors and nurses, who were involved with my care, were very good at keeping me and my family informed of what was happening.
Not only did I receive excellent care while I have been a patient, but I also met one of my best friends for life.
A word from Deb about Sandra: "The way I look at it, your life is written in God's book way before you are even born. He put Sandy and me together for a reason and that was to get through this cancer thing together. I know I can call her anytime of the day or night, and she can do the same. I have gotten to know her daughter, Diane, and while Sandy was in the hospital for her stem cell transplant, I told Diane that if she just wanted someone to talk to, I was here for her. I thank God every minute of every day for Sandy, and I am so thankful that God put her in my path."