It was December of 2000. Linda Hall was preparing to climb a volcano while vacationing in Antigua. An avid tennis player, backpacker and amateur photographer, Linda is a person who never sits still. Halfway up the volcano, she had to stop. She was sweating. Her heart was racing. That's when, she says, "I knew something was very wrong."
When she returned home, Linda immediately went to her doctor. "First they thought it was the flu. Then they thought malaria," she says. "But I wasn't getting any better." Finally, Linda was properly diagnosed. It was leukemia. That's when she insisted on going to MD Anderson. She knew it was the best cancer hospital in the nation. "I had several friends who had gone to MD Anderson. So from the get-go, it was a no-brainer," she says.
Treatment from MD Anderson
Once at MD Anderson, Linda received treatment customized for her and her specific type of leukemia. Linda's doctor, Stefan Faderl, says, "I wanted to give Linda the best shot of therapy that was available." At Dr. Faderl's suggestion, Linda agreed to participate in a clinical trial. "It allowed me to enhance proven treatments with new experimental drugs," he says.
"From the minute I walked in, the one-on-one care I got was unbelievable," Linda says. "I had a nurse practitioner, a nutritionist, a pharmacist and Dr. Faderl – who all specialized in my cancer and were there for me around the clock. 24/7."
Even during her treatment, Linda kept up her adventurous spirit by taking advantage of the support centers MD Anderson has to offer. "I did it all. The tai chi and the meditations. As a matter of fact, they threatened to put a bell on me," she says. Linda also never lost her sense of humor. "While I was bald, I got, like, 15 wigs. I got purple hair. I got blond hair. I even had a reggae wig."
Linda has now been cancer-free for eight years. When she's traveling, you can find her backpacking and zip-lining through jungles. When she's at home, she enjoys playing tennis and doing yoga. "It's been a slow, steady journey, and I'm doing great," she says, "And I can still call my doctor any time of the day and my nurse friends if I ever get sick."
Leukemia was one mountain Linda Hall was determined to overcome, and thanks to the customized care she received at MD Anderson, she did. Linda says, "Without MD Anderson, I couldn't have done it, and because of them, I truly have a brand-new life."