This post is part of our Survivorship Week series, June 2-9.
I've never had difficulty making decisions.
In September 2000, when I was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, I knew that I had to get to MD Anderson right away.
I grew up in Houston and knew of MD Anderson's stellar reputation for cancer treatment. Without hesitation, I told my local doctors that I needed to be transferred there as soon as possible.
They agreed, and quickly processed my post-emergency surgery CT scans and MRI results so I could be admitted to MD Anderson's Brain and Spine Center.
My cancer journey began with the worst headache I could imagine. Within two days, I was undergoing an emergency craniotomy. The prognosis was not at all hopeful but, ever the optimist, I wasn't able to process that news.
I only knew that I needed to "fix" it, with help from my family and my contacts in the medical community. Fortunately, Alfred Yung, M.D., a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson, had an opening for me in his practice. As soon as my incision from the craniotomy healed, I began six weeks of radiation treatment, followed by five days per month of chemotherapy.
MD Anderson had just begun promoting a new chemotherapy treatment it developed -- oral doses of Temodar combined with mega doses of Accutane, an acne drug -- following a successful clinical trial.
I could take my chemo drugs and still drive, so I had the freedom to continue my life.
I remember being "on chemo" during a family trip to Italy, at my son's college commencement and my daughter's college interview.
Then and now
Before cancer, I was a healthy, 48-year-old, retired attorney. Married to an attorney, I had a son in college and a daughter who was just beginning ninth grade.
Ironically, in addition to participating in my children's activities and volunteering in their schools, I'd been active in Victory, a fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society, which sponsors the annual Cattle Barons' Ball. My life was a ball.
After cancer, my life includes the earnest doctors and friendly employees and volunteers at MD Anderson. The outlook for success in treating glioblastoma remains uncertain, and funding for continued research is vital.
My prognosis is better than most, which I credit to my treatment at MD Anderson. I still return for an annual MRI. Twelve years after diagnosis, my advice remains the same: Get to MD Anderson as quickly as you can. It's what I did.