Paula Schuetz, of Pearland, a Houston suburb, is the mother of three children (ages 24, 19 and 16). She enjoys photography, gardening and crafting. Her mantra as a caregiver, cancer patient and survivor: Never, never, never give up!
It was 2003, and our family was relocating to a different town so we were house hunting on weekends with our three children. My husband started having horrible headaches, low energy and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a tumor in his brain.
It was stage IV medulloblastoma, and the prognosis wasn’t good. We went directly to MD Anderson and learned that the disease had spread to his bones.
We stayed in Houston to be treated by Dr. Charles Conrad. He was very aggressive with treatment. We had a whole year with my husband before he passed, a year we probably wouldn't have had at any other hospital.
I found a job in a medical imaging facility, greeting and registering patients. It made me feel that I was making a difference in the lives of patients. A smile and a kind word seemed to help them, and me.
Fast-forward to 2010. I was having a bit of bloating, which I chalked up to weight gain. When I started having other symptoms, I knew there was something else going on. I had a family history of fibroids, so I demanded an ultrasound. My abdomen was full of tumors.
A CT scan revealed more and after biopsy, I was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer. I was floored. How could this be? I refused to leave my children parentless so, again, I was at MD Anderson — this time, for me.
My team at MD Anderson has seen me go into remission for three years, then for four months and now, soon I’ll be in remission again. Living with chronic ovarian cancer hasn’t been easy, but I have so much to live for.
My children give me the strength to fight, and MD Anderson gives me the power. I’m very blessed.
Promise invites cancer survivors to share their reflections. Email Promise@mdanderson.org.