“CherieDr. Michael Keating and Andrew

[Editor's Note: One day after writing this blog, Andrew received a warm and welcome response from one of oncology's most renowned experts, Dr. William Wierda.  To read Dr. Wierda's email, Update From Houston, click here.]

Thinking of Houston and Texas: As the rain and flooding has disrupted so many lives, memories of how the city and its people have helped me as a patient flood back, too.

In 1996, I first went to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston as a newly diagnosed CLL patient to see Dr. Michael Keating. Esther and I had never been there, and we thought everyone would wear cowboy boots. They didn’t.What we found instead was the world’s busiest leukemia clinic and savvy advice on my situation that eventually led to participating in an MD Anderson Phase II clinical trial, which, I believe, extended my life. I am forever grateful.

Over the years, there have been many trips to Houston for checkups and partnering on educational events. We have always been welcomed warmly and the “can-do spirit” we are seeing now as neighbors help neighbors was what we’ve seen as Texans work with us to help people affected by cancer. Whenever we fly to Houston, it feels like a home where so many of us can fight cancer with knowledge and power and a skilled and devoted team.

Today I worry about those people who have helped us. Is their neighborhood flooded? Are their belongings and loved ones safe? For these people who have been so good to us, I hope we can give back and help them recover. 

The scope of the disaster is immense. Hospitals are closed, care is disrupted along with the lives of the providers and the patients.

It is so heartening to see the innovation as the folks there help each other. That includes MD Anderson doctors kayaking to help other families, including the family of CLL specialist Dr. Nitin Jain. In a way, this mirrors what we are trying to do worldwide in cancer:  Have people with knowledge and resources offer wisdom and a helping hand to those who are in the throes of a health calamity. In so many cases, the sun will shine again, and with the help of others we can regain our footing. 

Over the years, Texans have been so good to me and Esther and the Patient Power team, and we are so thankful, as best we know, that these folks are okay. In October, some of us will be back in Houston to join our colleagues and medical experts who live there, for an event for MPN patients and another one, a broadcast in myeloma. I am confident MD Anderson will be humming by then with the same positive spirit I have always known. Yes, there will be much to cleanup and much support needed. Texans can count on Patient Power to be there for them as they have been time and again for us.

If you would like to help, there are many worthy organizations providing aid in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  Here are two that need contributions:

  •       American Red Cross.  Go online to redcross.org; call 1-800-Red-Cross; or text “Harvey” to 90999 to make a donation.
  •       Salvation Army:  Donate by phone by calling 1-800-Sal-Army
  •       The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: Donate online

Prayers for Houston,

Andrew Schorr

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