09-26-12 “Together We Will End Cancer”

“THE TIME IS NOW.  TOGETHER, WE WILL END CANCER.”  At the news conference I attended, Dr. Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center, announced the Moon Shots Program and introduced the teams of doctors and the selected cancers they are going to begin with.

*  Triple-negative breast and ovarian, which are linked at the molecular level

*Leukemia (AML/MDS)  My Dr. Guillermo Garcia-Manero is on this team!  I just KNEW he would be involved in something this great!  He is the BEST!

*Leukemia (CLL)




In his speech, Dr. DePinho made the analogy of President Kennedy in his famous speech saying, “We WILL go to the moon.”  And they did.  “Together we WILL end cancer.”  And they will!

This will be a very ambitious program to reduce cancer deaths.  Lucy Richardson so graciously invited me to attend the conference and a breakfast beforehand.  It was wonderful to visit with other survivors and bloggers.  (And everybody LOVES Lucy!  She is amazing!)  It was a very emotional experience for me as a survivor!  After the news conference I was asked to be video interviewed and every single time I talked about Dr. Garcia-Manero or my grandchildren, I happy cried!  To think that my children and grandchildren will not have to go through what I am going through is beyond words!  I don’t have to rely on hope alone…this Dream Team of doctors is going to make cures and preventions a reality!  Globally!  Shoulder to shoulder!

Wow…this is incredible news!

A few facts from Dr. DePinho’s speech:

* Cancer is a problem that begins early in life.  Early childhood sunburn puts you at a risk for melanoma later in life.

* There are more tanning beds in most major American cities than McDonalds and Starbucks.

* Obesity by 2020 will surpass tobacco as a major driver of cancer.

Prevention is the key.

After the news conference we went over to the main building for a few minutes to see my friend Patti (!) and pick up some paperwork.  I always get this indescribable feeling like I am back at home when I go to MD Anderson.  I guess it is because it was such a life changing and life giving experience for me.  I will  forever be thankful!  What a special place filled with special people!

My sister Jan went with me to Houston and we had a great time.  I was thrilled she was able to go with me to the news conference!  Girl trip…loved it!

This week I am in the throes of my final (12th) cycle of chemotherapy after having a stem cell transplant last year.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to be almost finished!  Just 2 more days:)  There were a few times when I thought I couldn’t go on any longer…so happy I persevered!  Vidaza will hopefully decrease my odds of a relapse of myelodysplastic syndrome.

Thanks to all of you who have been asking about my dad…he had back surgery to straighten up his back which was causing him excruciating pain.  That surgery was successful.  YAY!  But he developed a hematoma and had a second surgery for that, and then another hematoma was removed a week after that.  Three surgeries in three weeks.  Needless to say,we made sure he came home from the hospital WITH the drain tube after the last surgery.  He is having pain in his knee and leg, so he had an MRI yesterday.  Results tomorrow.  We are so hoping it is the healing process of the nerves where the hematomas were.   He has endured so much…send him big love!

Dr. DePinho at the breakfast

Two of my most favorite people, Lucy and Dr. Garcia-Manero

My sister Jan

                                                                                                                                    We got to sit on the front row!!

A final thought…Robin Roberts, I really wish you were at MD Anderson Cancer Center!  My thoughts and prayers are with you!


08-29-12 My MD Anderson visit

I think this was a first…all news was good news!  My appointment with Dr. Hosing went very well.  I get to take my sirolimus every other day instead of every day.  We are watching closely for any problems, but so far no signs of graft vs host.  I totally understand that GVHD can pop up at any time, even years from now.  I have been on this reduced schedule for 3 weeks and I am thrilled!  In fact I feel better than I have in a very long time.  Robert’s (my donor) immune system is going to be awesome I can already tell!  Dr. Hosing doesn’t need to see me for 6 months.  This is a first.  I have been going every month, and then last time, 3 months.  This is progress!  I am going to miss Dr. Hosing, Erin, and Kelly!  I got 5 immunizations, 2 in one arm and 3 in the other.  Wow, after those injections and then a bone marrow biopsy, I was pretty sore!  But we were off to Philly to meet Robert so it didn’t matter!

While at the hospital, I went up to the 8th floor in the Leukemia department to see Dr. Garcia-Manero.  He had read my MD Anderson Cancerwise post about him and had called me, so I asked him if I could come find him.  It was really good to see him and hug his neck.  What a special man and awesome doctor!  Here is a picture:




Another visit I wanted to make was to the 11th floor where I was hospitalized for my stem cell transplant.   Wade and I got off of the elevator, went around the corner, and the flood gates just opened right up!  I experienced a lot of emotions that I was not expecting.  I was just hoping to see Jerusha or Mara, my nurses!  I didn’t get to see them, but I unexpectedly ran in to Alison Gulbis, my very first PharmD whom I love!  She was making rounds up there.  I got to see a photo of her baby girl, who is beautiful just like Alison!    Alison is extremely good at her job.  She helped me out of some bad times with good meds!  Thank you Alison!




The month of August is Houston Restaurant Weeks, which is a great thing.  You can eat at very expensive restaurants for $35.00 per person with $5.00 going to the Houston Food Bank.  Three or four courses with several choices.  It is a great way to try new places to eat, especially the pricey ones!  And to help the hungry.  Last year this program raised over $800,000!  That’s exciting!  We tried Brenner’s on the Bayou with friends Lucy Richardson (Media Specialist at MD Anderson) and John Moffett.  It was great fun!  We also tried III Forks which is downtown, with friends Patti (my bone marrow biopsy nurse) and Richard,  it was delicious!  And we had great Mexican food at Sylvia’s with Kelli.  Fun times!

This week I am in the throes of chemo…my 11th cycle.  My fatigue gets unbelievable at times, but the worst side effect this time is that my teeth are extremely sensitive.  It feels like every single nerve is exposed and screaming!  Since I will be finished with the Vidaza after 12 cycles, I’m not griping because I’m nearly there!  There was a time around the 8th cycle that I thought I couldn’t make it.  I’m so glad I didn’t give up.  The only reason I kept on keeping on was because I didn’t want the first 8 cycles to be in vain!  And Dr. Hosing felt like this was an important thing for me to do to help increase my odds of NOT having a relapse.  Almost there!

There are definitely ups and downs in cancer treatment, and I feel like I am finally in the ups!!!

Be kind, smile a lot, and love the one you’re with:)