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Sister Alice Gives Compassion with Heart

Volunteer Voice - Summer 2007

Open heart, open hands—that’s the motto that Sister of Providence Alice Potts has lived by throughout her 30 years of service as a chaplain at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In that time, she has seen the hospital grow, advances in cancer treatment made and a
chaplaincy department created. Yet what this Chicago-native remembers most is what she
has seen and learned over the past three decades while ministering to patients who are struggling through the hardest times of their lives.

“I consider it a privilege to be part of such an intimate and delicate time in someone’s life,” says Sister Alice, who ministers to intensive care patients. “I’ve learned that you can’t fix what they are going through, but you can be there with them.”

That lesson is something Sister Alice has taught every month for 28 years to volunteers at M. D. Anderson through her TLC Workshop on sympathy versus empathy.

Sister Alice was the first chaplain to be given a salary position at M. D. Anderson. In March, she received the James Ewing Layman’s Award from the Society of Surgical Oncology for her contribution to improving the care of cancer patients. This is just one of many awards that Sister Alice has been honored with over the years.

Now, this healthy 82-year-old is retiring in June and will return to her congregation in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana to take care of her Sisters of Providence who are in need of care. With her, she’ll carry the stories from patients met and lessons learned along the way as she enters the next phase of her ministry. The Department of Volunteer Services wishes her “Godspeed” — we will all miss Sister Alice.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center