From employee to caregiver: My new perspective on MD Anderson
I've worked for MD Anderson for over six years now.
People ask me if I find it depressing to work here and, for the most part, my answer is no.
I work in the Communications Office, so I usually communicate patient stories, news on cancer research and education on cancer prevention and treatment.
I'm happy in my job since I'm helping others tell uplifting stories and find information not readily available.
However, things are about to change. My mother, who's my best friend in the world, has been diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.
Cancer runs in my family
There's an abundance of cancer in my family; almost all my relatives have had at least one form of cancer. Even my mother is a 19-year breast cancer survivor, as well as a bladder cancer and basal cell survivor.
I thought her bout with cancer was over, but I should've known better. You always have to be on guard against the ugly beast, cancer.
A referral to the Undiagnosed Breast Clinic
When my mom first found a lump, I immediately contacted one of MD Anderson's skilled breast oncologists, Sharon Giordano, M.D.
I know her personally, being the producer of an audio podcast series, Cancer Newsline (CNL). Dr. Giordano has been a guest a number of times.
I also reached out to a good friend I met in our employee gym, Susan Chon, M.D. She treated my mother's seborrheic keratosis and has also been a guest on CNL.
They both recommended my mom go to the Undiagnosed Breast Clinic to see exactly what was going on.
Seeing another side of MD Anderson
My mom and I plan on sharing our new venture with cancer at MD Anderson, including our first visits, but for now I'd just like to say how I discovered a new pride in MD Anderson as an employee.
As I escort my mom to her appointments, I'm now also a caregiver and looking at MD Anderson through two sets of lenses.
Everyone my mom has come into contact with, from the receptionists to the doctors, has been kind, warm and caring.
It makes me feel good knowing she's in excellent hands, and also proud that I'm part of this institution.
There are many amenities at MD Anderson that I didn't think much about when I firs t produced video stories about them. But as I took my mom on a tour, I realized how very lucky our patients are to have such a wide variety of services, like Integrative Medicine classes (yoga, meditation, qigong, nutrition, etc.), The Learning Center, hospitality rooms and beautiful gardens.
The calm before the storm
Right now, it's the calm before the storm. My mom hasn't started treatment yet since she's still going through testing.
She feels fine and everything is pretty much normal, except we know we are about to embark on a journey that may turn our world upside down - at least for a little while.