Ashley Rivera, 29, of Texas City, was diagnosed in January 2017 with stage III breast cancer. A patient of Amy Hassan, M.D., associate professor of General Medical Oncology, she receives treatment close to home at MD Anderson League City. Ashley and her husband, Bryan, have three children.
"It was difficult to take those first steps into the building I would soon call my second home. When I walked into MD Anderson in the Bay Area, I quickly realized how blessed I was to have the leading cancer center right in my back yard.
I would need six months of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, a double mastectomy and a year of immunotherapy. Dr. Hassan told me that if all went as planned, by December I’d be finished with the difficult part of breast cancer treatment and ready to enjoy Christmas with my family. By giving me a goal, she erased some of my fears. That meant everything to me.
Months of chemotherapy went by, and then came surgery time. I had never had surgery before and was terrified. I remember my surgeon, Dr. Christina Checka, holding my hand as I went under anesthesia. It gave me so much peace.
Three days later, my daughter nearly drowned and began what would be a six-month recovery. When I received a phone call at home from Dr. Checka, I braced myself for more bad news, only to learn she had heard about the accident and was concerned. I thanked her for checking on our family, and for holding my hand before surgery. She said, “It’s what I do for every patient. It’s how I would want to be treated.”
These words reflect MD Anderson’s culture. Everyone understands that cancer treatment affects your life and family. Everyone who works there smiles and calls you by name. They ask how your family is doing and how you’re feeling — simple gestures that mean the world when you’re fighting cancer.
Because of MD Anderson Cancer Center’s world-class, personalized care, my children have a mom to tuck them into bed every night. I’m thankful for the staff who worked so hard to give me a second chance at life."