Let's give cancer the boot
Save the date: Saturday, Nov. 9
Cancer doesn't care what kind of boots you wear. It affects everyone. This is something we know all too well at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Every day we're focused on Making Cancer History® for our patients and their loved ones. We're supporting patients throughout their cancer journeys, and we're hard at work advancing research discoveries to slow, stop or prevent cancer.
Join your community to raise funds and help end cancer. On Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, put on your favorite pair of boots—cowboy, rain, combat, desert or others—and join thousands at the Boot Walk to End Cancer. Together, we'll give cancer the boot!
The Boot Walk follows a 1.2 mile walk in the heart of the Texas Medical Center. All ages are welcome to participate. There's fun for the entire family!
There's no registration fee to join. We want everyone to have the opportunity to participate, and show their support for MD Anderson and our fight to end cancer. All funds raised support our bold mission: To eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation and the world.
More than 6,000 boot walkers participated in the 2018 Boot Walk to End Cancer.
One hundred percent of funds raised directly support MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer.
Anyone can participate in the Boot Walk – no matter the age.
Fun color and costume themes made spectating the walk extra special.
Participants celebrated at the post-walk celebration.
Teams had a blast taking pictures with our life-size cancer strikethrough sign.
Volunteers assisted in making the 2018 Boot Walk the best one yet! Thank you.
The 2018 Boot Walk raised more than $2 million to end cancer!
Thank you to our presenting sponsor, LyondellBasell.
I was 12 when my 19-year-old brother, Brandon, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer. I remember sitting in the waiting room at MD Anderson with my parents for nine hours during his first surgery, as I filed my nails down to nothing, watched the news and wondered if Brandon was really going to be OK like he said he would be. He fought his 22-month battle with pure grace, dignity and humor.
I used to get upset because Brandon was such a selfless person and this was the reward he got? An incurable disease? I know he wouldn’t want us to think that way, so I try to think about the positive things he taught me instead.
What I’ve learned from my brother
Brandon was always protective and supportive, and he showed me unconditional love as far back as I can remember. I’m told he always loved being my big brother. He was a really good guy who was extremely funny and goofy, genuinely cared about others and had excellent taste. He appreciated people and wanted others to do the same.
One time when we were walking through a parking lot, I threw my gum on the ground. Brandon asked me if I liked when I stepped in gum. I looked at him and said, “No.” He told me that if I don’t like it, other people probably don’t like it, and if I was one less human who was throwing their gum on the ground, I was helping.
He taught me that I have my own path, and it might be different from others around me. I used to let self-doubt get in the way of pursuing my interests or speaking my truth. Once I accepted that I don’t have power over other’s happiness, my life started to fall into place. Even though he’s physically gone, Brandon’s words of wisdom have continued to make me who I am today, and I’m forever grateful.
I try to honor him on a daily basis by helping others, taking care of myself, pursuing new things, loving our parents a little extra for the both of us, and embracing this beautiful life I get to live because I have the privilege to do so every day I wake up.
Turning grief into action
As I grew up completely powerless over the loss of Brandon’s presence, I started thinking, “What do I have power over?” Around the ninth anniversary of Brandon being gone, I contacted MD Anderson to see how I could get more involved to start my new grieving stage: Proactivity.
I learned about the Boot Walk to End Cancer®, a fundraising walk that supports MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. I decided to create a team in my brother’s honor. My goal is to raise at least $10,000, which would allow me to designate the funds to the program or project of my choice. I will donate the money I raise to MD Anderson’s Glioblastoma Moon Shot™ to help others who are fighting or will be fighting the same monster my brother did. It is my honor — and my duty — to be part of the 2018 Boot Walk on Saturday, Nov. 10. I look forward to participating this year and in all the years to follow!
My back to reality prayer
I still miss Brandon more than words could ever express. Sometimes it feels crazy after all these years, but I believe grief is a soulful essence, and his soul is still present. I wouldn’t want it any other way. When I am feeling down about not having my older brother around, I read the following prayer:
Thank you for placing me in this family and giving me an older brother like Brandon. I know I am the person I am today because of his beautiful and graceful soul. Please give me the strength to continue to move forward with my life, while always honoring his. Please guide me to fill my emptiness with proactive thoughts and decisions. Please give Brandon a huge hug for me and tell him that I miss him so much.
With all of my love,
Brooke Noel Boudoin
Between them, husband and wife Malcolm and Dorothy Paterson have been diagnosed with three different types of cancer, one of which is so rare that only about 300 new cases are identified in the U.S. each year.
Both Patersons sought treatment at MD Anderson first for their respective diseases. That’s why MD Anderson’s mission of Making Cancer History® is so personal for them. And it’s inspiring everything they do as co-chairs of MD Anderson’s inaugural Boot Walk to End Cancer™, a 1.2-mile stroll around the Texas Medical Center that raises money to support MD Anderson’s cancer research. The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 12.
“We are so excited,” Dorothy says. “I’m a geologist and Malcolm is a physicist, so we understand how complicated this disease is and how urgent it is to get funding.”
A breast cancer diagnosis leads to MD Anderson
The Patersons first faced cancer in 1998. That’s when Dorothy was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma after finding a lump in her breast while showering.
Dorothy considered MD Anderson first because her breast cancer was so aggressive (stage III, HER2+) and she’d heard of its reputation. But that decision became firm when several close friends working in the medical field also encouraged her to get to MD Anderson as quickly as possible.
Once here, Dorothy had a bilateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction surgery. She also had 27 lymph nodes removed. That was followed by eight rounds of chemotherapy — a combination of 5-flouraurasil, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).
“Adriamycin is known among patients as the ‘red devil,’” Dorothy says. “It is extremely strong and toxic, but that’s what I needed. And I was so thankful it was available to get rid of that insidious disease.”
Malcolm becomes a prostate cancer patient
A decade later, Malcolm was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, after his doctor discovered a lump during a regular checkup in 2008. Based on Dorothy’s experience, he knew where he wanted to go. Malcolm had a robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP) under John Davis, M.D., a recognized leader in the field who had been recruited to bring that technology to MD Anderson.
“The timing was pretty perfect,” Malcolm says. “My prostate cancer was fairly aggressive, so neither I nor my doctors felt comfortable taking the ‘wait and see’ approach.”
A uveal melanoma diagnosis
A few years later, Malcolm’s ophthalmologist saw a suspicious freckle on his left retina during his annual exam, and referred him to MD Anderson again. Here, Dan Gombos, M.D., diagnosed him with uveal melanoma, a very rare eye cancer, and immediately began researching his treatment options.
“I put a big priority on minimizing damage to my sight,” Malcolm says. “I’m a pretty keen tennis player. And I didn’t want to be a one-eyed tennis player.”
Malcolm was eligible to received proton therapy for his melanoma, but because it wasn’t yet available at MD Anderson for that type of cancer, Gombos referred Malcolm to a trusted colleague at an out-of-state facility.
“Dr. Gombos listened very carefully to my concerns with regard to the possible side effects, and fully supported my preference,” Malcolm says. “That’s why I chose to do my post-treatment follow-up with him. He was acting solely in my best interest.”
A shared commitment to Making Cancer History®
Today, neither Dorothy nor Malcolm shows any evidence of disease. But because of the impact cancer has had on their family, both Patersons are determined to make a difference through the Boot Walk.
“We’re honored to assist in raising critical funds to support cutting-edge research on all types of cancer,” Dorothy says. “Since our first diagnosis 18 years ago, great strides have been made in many areas, including more targeted therapies, less invasive surgeries, and breakthroughs in immunotherapy. In fact, Herceptin — the very first non-chemo drug for treating breast cancer — had just been approved by the FDA the year I was diagnosed. However, the battle to end cancer is far from won. And we don’t want anyone else to have to go through what we did.”
The Patersons set a personal fundraising goal of $26,000 for themselves. They’ve already raised more than $21,000 towards it.
“Both of us are just so full of gratitude to be thriving and cancer-free,” Dorothy says. “We’ve had world-class medical teams give us our lives back, and we feel deeply compelled to do whatever we can to end this disease.”
Register for the Boot Walk to End Cancer™.