"Hmmm, looks like there's some stuff there," my doctor said as he read the report of my chest x-ray.
That "stuff," I figured, might be residue from too many years of heavy smoking. After smoking for years, I'd expected that one day an x-ray would reveal cancer.
As it turned out, the "stuff" wasn't cancer. But, that same x-ray and others confirmed a nodule in my right thyroid.
Turning to MD Anderson
My doctor suggested that I see a surgeon.
The first call I made was to MD Anderson, where I had participated in a research study of former smokers. I wanted to see if I could get information about that research study, thinking the findings would be both informative and helpful in planning my treatment.
To my surprise and delight, I was on record as a patient and even had my own medical record number (MRN).
Aside from my visits during the study, I knew little of the organization.
But I soon had an appointment as a cancer patient.
Over the years, I've been clinically folded, spindled, punctured, positioned, examined and evaluated by amazing doctors, nurses, technicians and the always courteous and helpful staff.
The result of all this attention and care was that, happily, there was no compelling reason or need to perform surgeries at the time. The best course of action was to continue to monitor previous findings.
But later came another cancer diagnosis. It happened in the course of routine treatment and observation when my doctor performed two biopsies. Again I was given the name of a surgeon, and again I turned to MD Anderson.
Joining my team at MD Anderson
Today, I know that I'm the beneficiary of the unparalleled advancements in cancer research and treatments.
I'm so grateful to God for being a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Once I became a patient during the smoker study, I was deeply affected by the atmosphere at MD Anderson. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
That's why I give my time by volunteering here. To date, I've volunteered about 600 hours of my time at MD Anderson.
The spirit of this place -- from every office to waiting area -- is consistently caring and courteous. No matter what department you're dealing with, people are helpful, kind and supportive. I haven't seen this spirit anywhere else.
If you're looking for an opportunity to use your skills and time to support the work of an amazing organization, look into volunteering at MD Anderson. If you wish to experience a pride of association, this could be the place.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, please call 713-792-JOIN (5646) or visit the website. A few hours out of your week could mean the world to a person with cancer.
John Biondi is a volunteer in the surgery waiting room at MD Anderson.
*Photo by Canterbury Photography