Holly Easley began her cancer journey five years ago when she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). After two types of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, she says she loves life, is improving daily and enjoys blogging about the cancer experience at http://hollyeasley.wordpress.com/.
My first experience at MD Anderson was mind-blowing.
I was surprised at the vastness of the building and how so many patients were there from all over the world.
I had a bone marrow biopsy and then had an enlightening meeting with Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D.
When Dr. G-M, as I affectionately call him, came into the room he explained my disease and why my particular cytogenetics were difficult to treat. He was very thorough and took plenty of time to answer all my questions.
He had the preliminary report of my bone marrow biopsy, but I would have to return for a consultation in two weeks after he had received the final report with the cytogenetic report.
The report came back that I had the alteration of chromosome 5 and chromosome 8 and one cytopenia.
Best possible care
Dr. G-M took my case to the department's physician planning meeting to get input from others on my case. However, there wasn't a consensus on my plan of treatment. Some thought Revlimid might help; others thought it would not.
This is when I realized I truly was at the very best place in the world to receive treatment. All of the doctors brainstorm the best possible treatment for you. Where else can you get that?
During the years that I was treated by Dr. Garcia-Manero and it was decision-making time, my husband and I would ask him what he truly thought I should do. He always responded by saying, "If this was my wife I would do ...."
This sums up how he treats his patients, as he would treat his own family members.
Down the right path
I remember one Labor Day, during a period of trying to decide if any treatments might work for me, I received a phone call from him. He'd been studying my case all weekend and wanted me to know what he thought we should do next. I was totally impressed.
Throughout this process, his compassion, caring and utmost expertise guided me down the right path on the beginning of my journey to get well again.
Another impressive fact about Dr. G-M is how promptly he will contact you when you have a problem, question or concerns. He usually responds within 20 minutes, rarely taking more than a day to get back to his patients.
Also, Dr. G-M was always watching the progression of my disease and quality of life. In spring 2011, he contacted me because it was time for a stem cell transplant.
When I realized he would no longer be my doctor, because I would no longer have MDS after my transplant, I was sad and cried because I didn't want to leave him.
The ultimate realization that I was in the best possible care as a patient with myelodysplastic syndrome was when I learned that Dr. G-M is considered to be the leading authority in the world on this disease. He travels all over the world speaking about MDS.
He emanates knowledge, kindness and concern. I never doubted his decisions about my treatment, always trusting his judgment and expertise.
I will forever be grateful to him and love him. Thank you, Dr. G-M.
Myelodysplastic syndrome: What you need to know