Kathy Harkey was the light of the room, an engaging woman who cherished gatherings with family, friends and neighbors. Before moving to The Woodlands in 1996 with her husband, Don, she worked as an industrial hygienist in Beaumont, Texas, and co-founded ICU Environmental Health and Safety, one of the largest and most respected health and safety companies on the Gulf Coast. The beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend could overcome almost any obstacle.
In January, business entrepreneurs Kathy and Don were building a store, Woodlands Unique, when Kathy found a small lump on her right breast. She chose MD Anderson's location in The Woodlands for treatment, undergoing six months of chemotherapy.
While visiting her daughter Kate in Germany that December, Kathy experienced breathing problems and was admitted to a hospital. Upon returning to Houston, she learned the cancer had spread to her liver. Kathy remained upbeat and resilient through three more months of chemotherapy and three clinical trials, but the cancer continued to spread. She died at 58 in April 2014.
Don continues Kathy's legacy, from piloting Woodlands Unique to launching The Kathy S. Harkey Breast Cancer Foundation. Through the foundation, his goal is to help fund the development of life-extending treatments for metastatic breast cancer.
"It's a long, arduous journey when you have breast cancer, and when you see what someone has to go through, you want to make a difference," he says.
Don donated a $5,000 refrigerator to MD Anderson in The Woodlands to store drugs for clinical trials. He appreciated that Kathy could have her treatment so close to home, rather than miles away in the Texas Medical Center.
"MD Anderson's Houston area locations are the way to go since they are so accessible," he says. "I donated the refrigerator so that The Woodlands facility can offer more clinical trials."
With a portion of proceeds from the store's sales donated to the foundation, Don has contributed more than $75,000 to MD Anderson and the support group Breast Friends.
Convenient care close to home
In addition to MD Anderson's campus in the Texas Medical Center, MD Anderson provides cancer care at these Houston-area care centers: Bay Area, Katy, West Houston (diagnostic imaging), Bellaire (diagnostic imaging), Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Memorial City (surgical clinic) and The Woman's Hospital of Texas (gynecologic oncology). MD Anderson is the exclusive provider of breast radiology services for 15 of Memorial Hermann's breast care centers across the Houston area.