The term “handicapped” is no longer considered politically correct, but, in any case, it would be a misnomer for Alma Faz, an amputee and computed tomography technologist at MD Anderson.
In March 1998, she had three cycles of chemotherapy, which did not treat the bone tumor. Subsequently, she had to undergo surgery to amputate her right leg.
“I’d always been outgoing and motivated. Suddenly, there were a lot of ‘I can’ts,’” Faz recalls. “It was a very trying time at that age. You’re finding out who you are, and that was interrupted for me.”
Her treatment ended in summer 1998, and she has remained completely cancer-free.
Getting on with life
It’s been more than 15 years since her leg was amputated. In this time, Faz has achieved much in both her personal and professional lives.
“The doctor said I would have no limits,” Faz recalls. “I can run. I can bike. I can ski. I can do anything I set my mind to.”
She has participated in five half-marathons and run more than 1,100 miles in the last two years. She is now ready to begin training for her first triathlon.
During her treatment, Faz fell in love with radiology and decided to pursue it as a career.
“My goal was always to work for MD Anderson,” she says. In August 2008, she graduated from MD Anderson’s School of Health Professions with a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic imaging. She specializes in using computerized tomography (CT) scanners that help diagnose patients’ medical condition by producing cross-section images of internal organs and tissues.
Faz, who feels that she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for MD Anderson and her large support network, says that she needed a special way to thank her heroes. She is one of the original members of MD Anderson’s Young Adult Advisory Council, a group of young cancer survivors dedicated to sharing opinions and ideas to help other patients.
Although she is cured, she realizes that someone else’s story is just beginning. As such, she hopes that her efforts and contributions will positively impact others.
“I have no limitations,” Faz tells other patients. “I can do anything I put my mind to, so can you.”