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Research: Patient Profile

Annual Report - 2005-2006

Each Day Is a Gift

By Gail Goodwin

Betty White learned the ropes of being a cancer patient quickly. “You are your own best advocate,” she says. “You know your body better than anyone else so you need to pay attention to what it’s telling you so that you can talk to your doctor.”

Betty White

White is a nine-year ovarian cancer survivor. She knows that she was lucky — she caught the disease at an early stage.

“I was very fatigued and had some lower abdominal pain so I went to the doctor,” she explains. But the cancer didn’t show up in the tests her physician ran. Three months later, the symptoms were still troubling her so she had a laparoscopy and then a complete hysterectomy. This time, the lab results showed cancer.

White’s doctor referred her to 
M. D. Anderson, a coming home of sorts for her. As a former employee, she knew this was the right place to be. White underwent six courses of chemotherapy and “continues to knock on wood every day,” counting each day as a gift.

For the last four years, she’s made frequent trips to M. D. Anderson, but now she comes here as a volunteer. White does double-duty, volunteering in the Anderson Network Hospitality Center in the Main Building and in the Gynecologic Oncology Center.

“I remember how it felt when I was here as a patient. I can help combat fear and offer hope,” White says. “Volunteering at M. D. Anderson is so rewarding. I tell everyone that if I can do it, you can, too.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center