Cancer patients find treatment in hometowns during Harvey aftermath

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Mike Butchko is a Nacogdoches volunteer coordinator for American Red Cross. He's helping others right now deal with the anxiety brought on by Hurricane Harvey.

At the same time, Butchko learns first-hand how the stress already felt by a cancer patient can climb during a natural disaster.

"I could see the handwriting on the wall," Butchko said. "It's going to get ugly."

As Hurricane Harvey was approaching Houston's MD Anderson, Butchko was awaiting a cancer treatment there the following day.

"I was rescheduled for this coming Saturday," Butchko said. "Harvey said no."

MD Anderson and other Houston hospitals had a plan in place. Caregivers teamed up with caregivers in their patients' hometown.

"You can imagine the feeling of ,the hospital is closed,  what do I do, so the ability of a local provider to step in and give care when it's needed, it's a tremendous relief," said Oncologist Dr. Gerard Ventura.

MD Anderson patient Bill Teague knows all about the emergency plans. The retired CEO of the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center worked closely with Houston's Medical Center for over 31 years.

"They would show up when you think there is no way in the world they could have gotten here," Teague said. "And when you said, 'Why did you do that?' they said, 'We have patients to take care of. We have donors to take care of. We need to be here.'"

Both men will be back on schedule with MD Anderson starting Tuesday. They're in good spirits.

"Thanks to the good people in Nacogdoches, I'm in tall cotton," Butchko said.

"If I were afraid, that wouldn't say much about my faith and I have a great deal of faith," Teague said.

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