Kidney cancer caregiver: 4 places to re-charge at MD Anderson
My dad has been a patient at MD Anderson since July 2015, receiving treatment for stage IV renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer. Our family has taken turns accompanying him to many doctor appointments, scans and a few in-patient hospital stays. Along the way, we’ve discovered some special places at MD Anderson – a place to decompress, a place to be with nature, a place to socialize and even a place off the beaten path.
As my dad approaches his third year of treatment, I find myself visiting these places often and even discovering new ones. Caregiving is a special gift that has to be nourished, and MD Anderson offers many wonderful places to re-charge.
Below are a few that I recommend.
Location: Main Building, Floor 24, near Elevator F
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
When Dad has scans scheduled, instead of waiting in the general waiting area, I grab a cup of coffee at one of the cafes and head over to the Observation Deck. Being a native Houstonian, I still find myself appreciating the vast expanse of Houston and the magnitude of the size of the Texas Medical Center from 24 floors in the sky. The space is generally very quiet and allows time for my brain refresh itself after the hustle and bustle of getting to and from appointments.
The Learning Center
Locations: Main Building, Floor 4, near Elevator A; Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near The Tree Sculpture; Jesse H. Jones Rotary House, Floor 1
My sister has two young girls. The oldest is 6 years old, and we worried about how much and what to tell her about Dad. My sister was able to find an age-appropriate book to read with her daughter about Dad’s cancer. The Learning Center allowed us to leave some of our fear at the door by replacing the fear with information. And the staff was great at recommending the right book.
myCancerConnection Hospitality Center
Locations: Main Building, Floor 2; Mays Clinic, Floor 2, near Elevator T
Hours: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday-Friday
On days when I need a boost of energy or just a warm smile, I head over to the myCancerConnection Hospitality Center. The volunteers are always gracious and offer a smile that lights up the room. Coffee is available, and if you feel your sweet tooth aching, there are usually cookies. This is where I also find out about many of the events happening around MD Anderson.
Off the beaten path: Holistic Garden
Location: UT School of Public Health, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living Holistic Garden
Hours: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday-Friday
When Dad and I walk across the skybridge from the Main building to Mays Clinic, we often wonder about the vegetable garden down below. Earlier this year, while Dad was receiving treatment and required a two-day in-patient hospital stay, I decided to stray off the beaten path and discovered the Holistic Garden at the UT School of Public Health. It is quite a gem and a great place to learn about the benefits of gardening.
Caregiving is a silent gift that doesn’t come up often in discussion during appointments. However, as a caregiver, I’ve found it’s important to take care of yourself so you can provide support as it’s needed. Sometimes that means it’s OK to not wait in the waiting area. Sometimes it’s OK to take a walk and discover something new at MD Anderson. And it’s even OK to veer off the beaten path.