Caroline Pettit and her husband, Rich, of Edmonds, Washington, lived in Houston for 30 years during his tenure as a professor of finance at the University of Houston. This year Caroline celebrates 17 years of being cancer-free, thanks to her successful breast cancer treatment at MD Anderson.
June 2002: My husband and I were at the airport, having just arrived home to Houston from a fabulous trip to southern France, when I saw a message from my doctor indicating I needed to return to our hospital in northwest Houston for added mammogram views. That led to a biopsy and a staggering announcement from the local surgeon that he had “bad news and good” — that I had breast cancer, but it was caught early, thanks to the radiologist, and surgery and chemotherapy needed to be started quickly.
We were in shock, of course. We called our local general practioner, who said, “Don’t panic. We have the best cancer center in the world right here in Houston, and I’ll set you up with an appointment immediately.”
That changed our outlook, our attitude and our life. From the minute we stepped through the door at MD Anderson, we felt that we were cared for and that things were under control — it was a process, not an emergency. Yes, I had a number, but I had a name too. From surgery to the end of my radiation treatment, every person there gave me the feeling that I was their most important patient.
That was 17 years ago. Since then I’ve been cancer-free. We moved back to Seattle, after 30 wonderful years in Houston, to be with our kids and grandkids. We still fly back to MD Anderson every year to see the same oncologist who has the same positive outlook and level of care we first saw long ago. My husband thinks MD Anderson is the most efficient large organization he’s ever seen, with employees at all levels who are both friendly and willing to help you through the maze of medicine in a very large hospital.