I never thought I'd hear the words: "You have breast cancer." But when I did, they turned out to be one of those moments that defined my life. At 44 years old and with two young daughters, my cancer diagnosis was a frightening and sobering call-to-action.
Deciding to come to MD Anderson for breast cancer treatment
After my breast cancer diagnosis came the scurry of tests, surgeries, treatments and medicines at a hospital in the city where I live. But after a while, I realized things didn't seem right. My husband and I both decided it was time to seek breast cancer treatment elsewhere.
That is how I found my way to MD Anderson, where I've received all of my care since then. I believe the corresponding change in my treatment course saved my life. I have consistently experienced the confidence and competency of my breast cancer care team. Their caring and the commitment to excellence is apparent. I am grateful.
My advice for traveling to MD Anderson
Traveling to MD Anderson isn't always easy, but it's worth it. Here are some tips that have made traveling for cancer treatment easier and more affordable for me:
1. Use airline miles. Obtain an airline mileage credit card and accumulate points for free tickets and discounts. Accept friends' or family members' donated mileage or points. Every airline ticket I've used to fly to and from Houston has either been free or discounted because I've done this. Early and late flights, as well as flights with stops, often use fewer points, so be flexible in your travel plans so you can make your miles stretch further. You also can use airline miles to cover hotel stays and rental cars.
2. Plan ahead. Contact your MD Anderson social work counselor, or MD Anderson's Patient Travel Services for help with your travel plans. They'll help you find places that are convenient, offer discounts and cater to MD Anderson patients. You will not believe what you might receive if you just ask. There are a lot of places in Houston that are there for patients and family members.
3. Stay positive. I know it's hard to travel, especially during this difficult time in your life. But look at the trip to MD Anderson as a positive -- something you need to do for you and that you deserve. A positive attitude will make the journey easier and possibly more enjoyable.
You can even make it your own little vacation. I always get my nails done when I visit MD Anderson. Giving myself a spa day like I'd have on a real vacation just makes me feel better.
And that has helped me get and stay healthy so that I can enjoy being cancer-free -- and travel to places besides MD Anderson for fun.