During my 38-year career, I had many opportunities to move my family to other parts of the country, but I always decided to stay in Houston. I became grateful for that decision in spring 2010, when I was diagnosed with diffuse large b-cell lymphoma.
Going to MD Anderson for diffuse large b-cell lymphoma treatment
Shortly after my diffuse large b-cell lymphoma diagnosis, my wife suggested we go to MD Anderson.
"It's right in our backyard," she said.
My three daughters, all in their 20s, agreed. I scheduled the appointment right away.
I was scared of the unknown when I came to MD Anderson for my first appointment. But I had worked in hospital labs for 38 years. It helped to think of my treatment as just another study.
My cancer was aggressive. So, after five rounds of chemotherapy, my doctor, Jorge Romaguera, M.D., recommended that I undergo a stem cell transplant.
The transplant took place in September. I was able to use my own stem cells, which had been harvested earlier.
5 things that helped me through my stem cell transplant
Recovering from the stem cell transplant was not easy, but several things helped me cope. Here are some of the biggest ones.
- My family. My wife and three daughters were 100% supportive and they became my clinical assistants. All four of them were at all of my appointments and my stem cell harvest. That was a blessing. Little did they know how much they encouraged me to keep pushing forward. During the five rounds of chemo, my family -- including my brother, sister and nephews -- and friends all took turns supporting me in one way or another. My brother stayed with me when the rest of my family could not, and my sister came to visit from Puerto Rico.
- A sense of humor. During my diffuse large b-cell lymphoma treatment, I became a jokester and a goofball. I was always trying to make my family and friends laugh. Maybe it was all the meds and chemobrain, but regardless, it helped me -- and them.
- My faith. Without my faith, I would not have been able to make this journey. I was always grateful for the spiritual counseling I received at MD Anderson.
- Exercise. Physical activity has always been part of my life, and I made many strides to continue being mobile. During chemo, for instance, I walked in the mall early in the morning and ate very healthy meals when possible.
- My care team. So many sensitive, compassionate and caring health care professionals helped me through my diffuse large b-cell lymphoma and stem cell transplant. The entire MD Anderson staff was incredible. They were intelligent and caring. They never seemed like they were in a rush, and they were open to suggestions. I feel so grateful that they were right in my backyard.
Giving back after cancer
It's been five years since my stem cell transplant, and I'm happy to say I'm cancer-free.
With cancer treatment behind me, I'm now sharing my experience by helping other cancer patients. I volunteer with myCancerConnection, a one-on-one support program that connects cancer patients and caregivers with others who have been there.
Each time I talk to patients, I listen to their concerns, share my stories and remind them that they can do this. I've beaten diffuse large b-cell lymphoma, and I want to give them hope that they can, too.