Cancer diagnosis in family drives career shift for patient services coordinator
Seventeen years ago, a phone call changed the course of Fayleta Lawrence’s life. It was her mother, breaking the news that she had just been diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
“I started crying,” says Lawrence, a patient services coordinator at MD Anderson League City. “I remember thinking: there’s no number after four.”
Lawrence had been working for a record label, but her mother’s diagnosis caused a shift in her career plans.
“This was my turning point to move from music to medicine,” Lawrence says. “I wanted to know everything I could about the body, about cancer.”
She began applying for positions at MD Anderson, a place she has “always, always” wanted to work.
“It took me nine years to get here,” says Lawrence, who was hired in 2019 after applying for several different jobs.
Driven to make cancer patients “feel a little better”
Today, Lawrence is driven to make a difference in patients’ lives. As a patient services coordinator, she schedules tests, procedures and treatments, ensuring quality patient care in response to directives from physicians, nurses and administrators.
“If I can make patients feel a little better, that’s what I’ll do,” says Lawrence, who connects with as many as 400 patients a day. “A lot of people are afraid when they come in. I’ll console them, give them a hug, a tissue. I’ve had men cry and tell me I’ve made a difference in their journey.”
She credits her father with preparing her for the job.
“My dad taught me everything I know,” she says. “He couldn’t read, and, as a child, I helped guide him with my reading. But he taught me about being kind and treating every person with dignity and respect.”
Helping people feel seen
Lawrence has long suspected that she would find herself in a professional role that allows her to offer compassion and support.
“People want to feel seen,” she says. “I’m a people person, and I’ve always been a people person. That’s what drives me. And that drive goes right back to my mom.”
Lawrence’s mother survived her cancer and remains a source of inspiration for her daughter to this day.
“I tell patients that I personally understand what they are going through,” Lawrence says. “I want to help them. I want them to feel like family.”