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Moving Forward: Gordon Hendrickson

Conquest - Fall 2008

As a survivor of both pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer, Gordon Hendrickson is compelled to counsel other men and women about screening and to help those who are newly diagnosed. 

“I was in good health. It never dawned on me I might develop cancer,” Hendrickson says. He was 66 in May 2002 when he heard the life-changing diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Hendrickson asked his internist to locate the best surgeon who could perform the recommended Whipple procedure, a complicated operation that involves removing parts of the pancreas as well as portions of the stomach and small intestines, adjacent lymph nodes, gallbladder and part of the common bile duct. The internist found M. D. Anderson has several specialists with extensive experience and increasingly good results.

Fortunately, he was a successful candidate for the Whipple procedure and is now a six-year survivor of that disease. And he is about to celebrate the two-year anniversary of his prostate cancer.

These experiences make him an apt spokesman, counseling others to pay attention to their health. In Albuquerque, where he and his wife, Nancy, live, he facilitates a men’s group for People Living Through Cancer, a program that brings together those who understand the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual repercussions of cancer.

“In my work with this group, I have found that those who catch the cancer early have the best chance of a good outcome,” Hendrickson says. “I encourage everyone to get a colonoscopy, especially if they are over 40 and if they aren’t feeling well. I also encourage all men to have their PSA monitored.”

Inveterate travelers, he and his wife journey around the country, staying off the freeways so they can enjoy the sights, while visiting their five children and eight grandchildren.

“We feel so fortunate to have a large family and so many friends,” he says. “Like others who have survived a critical event or disease, we know how important these people are in our lives.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center