Sharing stories supports mental health and builds connections with others that have been touched by cancer. It can help you understand your own emotions and helps people understand what you're going through. We encourage our patients to share their experiences to encourage hope and to help reduce feelings of loneliness. Here are a few patient experiences.
- William and Dr. Vasily Assikis
- Peggy and Dr. Ha Tran
- Kutana and Dr. William Jonas
- Christina and Dr. Jay Rhee
William and Dr. Vasily Assikis
Dr. Assikis and Mr. Stancil met over 10 years ago when he was referred to PCI to talk about what to do next for lung cancer that spread to his brain. He had just completed focal radiation therapy to a small brain lesion.
"We talked about how bad prognosis was for a man with Stage IV lung cancer: back then average survival was one year, and he had cancer in the brain which is worse than usual and was an active smoker with COPD which also made things worse" says Assikis.
None of that fazed him. Whatever he was asked to do (tests, treatments) he did, always with a smile and a positive attitude. Everybody in the office knows him and loves him. As the years have gone by, he had his troubles but never gave up. He recently celebrated 10 years! living with Stage IV lung cancer ...and life goes on...
Peggy and Dr. Ha Tran
Peggy fights her breast cancer with a positive outlook. We can't control our circumstances, but we can control our responses to those circumstances. Keep a positive attitude. She recommends getting creative and include your support "people".
- Create a calendar and hang it on your wall. I named mine Kick, Cancer's, A _ _. (K C A)
- Start a prayer Journal: Each chemo treatment I chose a theme from the Bible or a song and entered it into my prayer journal. (Examples: Daniel 3:25, Nothing but the Blood, Victory in Jesus, each week I wrote about one of the twelve disciples)
- If you are told the chemo will cause you to lose your hair, be proactive. Have a hair cutting pizza party.
- Invite family or close friends to come. Choose one of them to have the honor of cutting your hair.
Kutana and Dr. William Jonas
Kutana and Dr. Jonas met in 2010. She first saw Dr. Jonas after her diagnosis and then surgery to remove a carcinoid cancer from her right lung. A carcinoid tumor is a type of neuroendocrine tumor that grows from neuroendocrine cells found in organs throughout the body. They often grow very slowly.
Since that time, Kutana has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and then carcinoid cancer in her liver. Dr. Jonas sent her to MD Anderson several times for treatments specific to her condition and stood by her all the way.
"He is the most compassionate and caring doctor I know. He cares about his patients, and it shows in the work that he does. There is so much I can say about him. He's a great person and doctor."
Christina and Dr. Jay Rhee
It's been over six years since Christina went for her regular checkup and a lump was found. A deep tissue lump about 3.5 cm in size. It was Breast Cancer - ER+ Her2 negative. What followed was a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation. Additional problems began appearing, severe spinal pain, diverticulitis and more which required bone scans, CT scans and MRIs. Testing resulted in the discovery of additional cancers. Stage IV Cancer is an advanced cancer that requires and aggressive treatment, so began her journey.
Christina has been a patient of Dr. Rhee since 2018. She admires his ability to pivot with solutions as they partner together on treatment options. He communicates with other doctors and answers the many questions she has. One of the most challenging aspects with this diagnosis is navigating through all of the doctors and the testing! Christina is still fighting and doing well.
"It really does take a village" Christina says. Her advice to others is to make your caregivers part of your "village". Ask questions, a lot of questions. Speak up when you need something or don't understand something. And, most importantly, go live your life!