Recently, I had the honor of participating in a tour of MD Anderson's campus and research facilities. I learned about the many services available to patients.
I now know that I did not fully utilize the services that were available to me when I was a cervical cancer patient. The likely reason for that is simply geography. I flew to MD Anderson for my chemo treatments and then home.
If I lived closer, I would have participated in more of the programs that I learned about, such as services offered by the Integrative Medicine Center, which range from nutrition lectures to Pilates and yoga. The patient services are endless. They also offer quiet rooms where you or your caregiver can sleep, as well as a library where patients can research their specific diagnoses. The goal seems to genuinely be to help the patient navigate cancer with many tools in their arsenal.
Learning about cancer prevention at MD Anderson
I recently read about the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Science in the most recent issue of MD Anderson's Conquest magazine. So, I was happy that our tour took us to the Cancer Prevention Center, which includes the Behavioral Research and Treatment Center. They are studying how certain behaviors have an impact on cancer prevention and recurrence. I am most interested in the research they are doing regarding exercise and its impact on cancer.
After a trip through the Research Medical Library,which contains MD Anderson's institutional archives and special collections, including oral histories, manuscripts, photographs and rare books on cancer medicine, we stopped to see the model of MD Anderson. The campus is vast and comprised of many buildings. It was helpful to see the model to get my bearings as well as an aerial view of the buildings.
Finding hope in endometrial cancer
Our final stop was in a research lab that focuses on endometrial cancers, a type of uterine cancer that starts in the lining of the uterus or endometrium.
We met with a brilliant post-doctorate fellow named Jessica Bowser, who is doing research on a specific cell membrane that helps prevent aggressive metastatic cancers. If researchers can find a drug that restores or introduces that membrane to cancer cells, maybe the drug will prevent the cancer cells from gaining strength and metastasizing while the cancer is being treated.
"Incredible things happening outside doctors' offices and chemotherapy rooms"
Many patients may not be aware of the incredible things happening outside of their doctors' offices and chemotherapy rooms. But from my experience, I can tell you that you can walk through the corridors of MD Anderson with confidence that advances in the fight are happening and that others may not have to endure what they are.
Linda Ryan thought she had checked cancer off her list. Having just run her first marathon, it was hard to imagine that her cervical cancer had returned after seven years. Cancer chose the wrong woman. She was ready to battle cancer for the third time with health, laughter and friendship.