I’m sure that all cancer survivors have a soft spot, if not total love, for the doctors and staff that worked together to save their lives. I am no exception. So please indulge me a bit while I brag on and promote mine.
Yesterday was my 18-month post transplant tests. It was the first time I had waited six months between bone marrow biopsies and CT scans! I have to admit that I was a little out of practice for enduring the discomfort of the bone marrow biopsy. But it’s a small price to pay!
While waiting for each procedure, I met and shared stories with several folks. Cancer survivors are very open. What was interesting to me was how far they had all come. Two had come from Alaska. The husband had esophageal cancer and at the facility in Alaska had been given a 10% survival chance. He called MDA and asked if there were any clinical trials, which there were, and what the survival ratings were (54%) and decided to make the trek to Houston. That was 12 years ago! His wife three years later was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I guess you can imagine where they decided to come. She also entered a trial, and now they both come back once a year for their “12,000 mile check-up.” :) They were a delightful couple in their mid to late 60’s. I hope that in 12 years, we will still be coming in for my annual check.
There was another lady from California who had a carcinoma in her stomach. They felt like they had gotten it, but there was a possibility of it morphing into something else. There was a slight possibility of a stem cell transplant in her future. She was very scared about that, almost to the point of refusal, so she and her son asked me a lot of questions. It was rewarding to be able to give her first hand information from my experience.
Another lady came from Arkansas who had been diagnosed with Melanoma and Lymphoma at 35. She’s 39 now and doing great! I didn’t tell her about my buddy, Dave, because I didn’t want to discourage her. She took several of the same drugs that he did early on. I obviously can’t say that going to MD Anderson will always keep you from dying. Sometimes there’s just another plan. But statistically, MD Anderson saves a ton of lives!!
Why am I mentioning these folks from Alaska, California, and Arkansas (and another who drove over from Bastrop…)? Because I have met so many folks right here in Houston who won’t drive across town to go to MD Anderson because it’s inconvenient! The group of us talking yesterday laughed as we shared stories and called ourselves the “it’s way better than dead” group! That may sound a bit crass, but until you’ve looked death in the face you don’t always know what you might be willing to do. And for those who aren’t willing, I just don’t get it. We have the best of the best right in our own back yard. For some cancers like breast cancer that is so prevalent, several area hospitals have access to the same treatment options. But for most other cancers, MD Anderson is simply the place to be.
Heaven is going to be amazing. I just wasn’t quite ready to go. But I was willing to drive to MD Anderson!