Caroline Brown, a breast cancer survivor since 2012, leads the Outreach Committee of the Advance Team, MD Anderson’s next-generation advisory board. A former project manager in talent development at Ascena Retail Group, the mother of three is a passionate advocate for MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. In her spare time, she enjoys exercising, trying new Houston restaurants, traveling, spending time with her husband and children, reading, and volunteering.
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Education: Duke University, Bachelor of Arts, Sociology
Advance Team Service:
- 2017-present: Member
- 2019-present: Outreach Committee chair
What three words best describe you?
Motivated, empathetic, resilient.
Why is “Making Cancer History®” important to you?
To me, “Making Cancer History” is more than a tagline — it is an aspirational yet attainable action that can impact the world. How amazing would it be if our children could grow up in a world where cancer does not exist?
What insights did you gain from your personal cancer journey?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. My husband and I had just moved to Houston, and I knew that MD Anderson was the best place for me to be treated. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.
You learn a lot about yourself when undergoing a cancer diagnosis. I learned how truly important it is to listen to your body and to seek care when you think that something might be off. I am so fortunate that my cancer was caught early.
I discovered that I was a lot tougher than I originally thought, and that my positive, determined attitude really helped when going through chemotherapy and recovering from surgery. I also discovered the real value of friends and family. I never once felt alone in my cancer journey, and the support and encouragement I felt empowered me to dominate my cancer.
How did you become involved with the Advance Team?
I first learned about the Advance Team through a friend who was an Advance Team member and who was familiar with my history at MD Anderson. After my treatment, I had been actively volunteering with patients at MD Anderson through Volunteer Services, but I wanted to broaden my reach. The Advance Team was the perfect organization for me, as it married my passion for MD Anderson with the strategic side of advancing MD Anderson’s mission through awareness, education and outreach.
What motivates you to advance MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer?
I know that cancer has affected every one of us in some way, whether it has been through a personal diagnosis or helping a loved one face cancer. MD Anderson’s mission guides every decision of the physicians, nurses, care teams and administrators. As a patient, it is comforting to know that everyone at the institution stands behind this mission. As an Advance Team member, it motivates me to spread cancer awareness and advocate for MD Anderson.
As the Advance Team’s Outreach Committee chair, how have you addressed the challenges of engaging members during a global pandemic?
Like other organizations, the Advance Team has had to pivot to virtual outreach in lieu of in-person interaction. MD Anderson has done a great job with this as an institution, such as the Making Cancer History Virtual Seminar Series, which we have encouraged our members to attend. We are currently working on a series of virtual outreach events for our Advance Team members to educate them on various facets of MD Anderson, including cancer prevention. We are fortunate that technology allows us to connect, especially given that not all our Advance Team members live in Houston. This virtual capability allows us to broaden our reach within our group and enables us to engage our team members’ personal networks. We know it’s hard to re-create in-person interaction over the computer, but we now have the opportunity to touch even more people virtually.
What’s been most rewarding during your service on the Advance Team?
I consider it an honor to be a member of the Advance Team. My husband and I have organized several fundraisers to help spread awareness and share MD Anderson’s mission with our personal network. It has been extremely rewarding knowing that your work is valued and makes a difference. Being able to give back to the organization that gave me my health means so much to me.