Phyllis Hojel of Mexico City has made it her mission to spread the word about MD Anderson and contribute to the institution however she can.
“There are two generations of cancer in my family: my mother’s and mine,” says Hojel, who was treated at MD Anderson for thyroid cancer years ago. “I’ve had many friends who suffer from the disease, and it’s been gratifying to refer them to MD Anderson.”
Recently through the Hojel-Schumacher Foundation, Hojel gave $250,000 to the Institute for Basic Science, bringing her total giving to MD Anderson to $400,000.
“We gave in recognition of Dr. John Mendelsohn’s outstanding work to provide adequate support for his research,” says Hojel. “Financial support is so important to discovering new ways to combat cancer.”
Hojel draws much of her inspiration from her late husband Richard, who at 32 was electrocuted in an accident and lost both his arms. Instead of withdrawing from the active life he previously enjoyed, he went on to become a successful business entrepreneur who devoted considerable time to counseling and encouraging other amputees.
The Tulsa, Okla.-based Hojel-Schumacher Foundation has a variety of interests. It has been involved in the cancer center of Mexico City’s American British Cowdray Medical Center. The foundation also provides scholarships for Mexican children who have suffered amputations and supports institutions that teach entrepreneurship to the less fortunate.
Hojel has been on The University Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors (BOV) since 2006.
“The staff’s professionalism and dedication to my needs at the time I was being treated made it easy to accept the invitation to join the BOV several years ago,” says Hojel.
Hojel finds time between her work with the BOV and other charitable endeavors to enjoy the simple things in life: golfing, hiking, reading, traveling, improving her bridge game and being with her 12 grandchildren.
“My life has been filled with good fortune — loving and supportive parents, a wonderful marriage and good friends in Mexico and the United States,” says Hojel. “Those advantages make it especially important to repay the debt of gratitude I owe to MD Anderson for my own successful treatment. Such a win-win opportunity to make a difference doesn’t come along very often.”