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iPromise: Kimmie Rhodes

 Kimmie Rhodes

Kimmie Rhodes, of Austin, is a singer and writer whose songs have been recorded by Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Peter Frampton and many others. She was married to producer-writer-musician Joe Gracey for 28 years before he succumbed to metastatic esophageal cancer in 2011. Diagnosed with oral cancer in 1977, Gracey was cancer-free for 30 years following surgeries at MD Anderson, though he lost his ability to speak and sing. Here Rhodes reflects on her late husband and the hope they both found at MD Anderson.

"Gracey didn’t waste one minute getting to MD Anderson (when his dentist suspected a recurrence). It was through their efforts that he felt his life had been saved.

It was my first experience there. I remember telling Gracey after we walked in that day that if I had to put the way I felt into one word, it would be ‘hope.’ There was so much compassion and understanding for my husband. There’s an overall, collective consciousness of hope at MD Anderson. From the custodians to the top surgeons, it trickles up and down. It’s a world all of its own.

I was immersed in that world for three and a half years. After he died, it was hard to break away. I needed to erase those memories. I had an extraordinary experience when I returned to MD Anderson with a friend, who also had oral cancer. We walked through the door and felt that same hope. She had surgery, and she didn’t lose her voice. I went back to Austin with a success story, and now I have new memories to replace the old ones at MD Anderson. It’s comforting to know that this mechanism of hope is in Houston. People can get their lives back, and in the best way."

Do you promise? Tell us why you’re committed to Making Cancer History® by sending an email to Promise@mdanderson.org.

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