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Breast Cancer Survivor and Husband Welcome Patients

Network - Summer 2010

By Lana Maciel
Pat McWaters understands the importance of a welcoming atmosphere and how a smile or a kind shoulder can lift a patient’s spirits.

It’s the kind of inspiration she’s received at MD Anderson since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, and the kind of atmosphere she and her husband Roger try to create for other MD Anderson patients.

Every Friday afternoon you can find Pat and Roger in the Mays Clinic Hospitality Center, serving refreshments, visiting with patients and caregivers and offering a warm welcome to all.

“We enjoy helping people who are new to MD Anderson and the cancer experience,” Pat says. “I’ve gone through this before, and I’m still going through it, so I want to be here to give other patients hope.”

In the five years they've volunteered, Pat and Roger have become an integral part of the life of the Hospitality Center, a program of the Anderson Network. They offer coffee, tea or cookies, or just pass the time with patients or caregivers by helping them complete a jigsaw puzzle.

It’s a rewarding experience, Roger says, and one that has brought a lot of good friends into their lives.

Anticipating visitors’ needs is top priority

Pat understands the emotional experience other patients are going through.

“You can often sense people’s needs or what they’re feeling when they come in,” she says. “Some are more private and are just looking for some quiet time, while others want a friendly face to talk to.”

Having been at Pat’s side throughout her treatment, Roger can relate to the caregivers who visit the Hospitality Center. He often helps those who are new to the experience of caring for a loved one with cancer.

“The best advice I give them is to just help the patient be as active as can be,” Roger says.

Pat could be the poster child for an active life. Though still undergoing treatment for her cancer, she keeps an impressive schedule.

Besides her work in the Hospitality Center, she volunteers with Anderson Network’s Patient and Caregiver Telephone Support Line, offering encouragement to women dealing with the same diagnosis. She continues to enjoy sports and stays active within her church, where she and Roger sing in the choir.

“I play golf and tennis when I can,” Pat says. “It’s my therapy. Staying busy keeps me going.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center