What Making Cancer History® Means to Me

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zandstra.jpgCancer invaded my life as a new graduate nurse. I vividly remember the doctor coming out of the operating room and speaking those three haunting words, "we found cancer."

My 57-year-young mother endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments that left her weak, nauseated and in constant pain. In eight short months, she was gone. I felt helpless.
The next year, 1979, I traveled from California to Houston and found MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. I came with a thirst for knowledge and a need to serve.

I joined a nursing unit specializing in the gynecologic cancers that had claimed my mother's life. I was excited to be joining a top cancer center, yet fearful of what I might find.

Would I be up for this challenge? Would I be surrounded by sorrow and suffering? Would all my patients die? With all this in mind, I committed to stay two years.

Making Cancer History® has been a journey I have now traveled for more than 30 years.  Why? I found that each day, I could make a difference. I found a place of hope, inspiration, innovation and discovery.

I have had the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of discovery -- new surgical techniques that would preserve a woman's fertility, novel cancer treatments, new medications to manage pain and nausea, and to improve the quality of life.

cancerstrikethru.jpgEach day and each year, those we have the honor to care for contribute to our mission of eliminating cancer.

Making Cancer History begins with hope -- hope to end suffering from the effects of cancer and its treatment. It's measured not only by the quantity of lives saved, but also by the quality of life experienced by the cancer survivor.

It's also measured by the tireless work of outstanding scientists and clinicians who are learning more about cancer every day and are developing improved methods to treat the disease.


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