A gift of hope
Paula Habeeb remembers when she first heard the words, "You have cancer."
What her doctor originally thought was an infection turned out to be adenocarcinoma of the cervix. Paula, a Houston native, turned to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
That was 28 years ago. After surgery and three regimens of radiation, Paula was cancer-free.
"I never had another issue until December 2016," she remembers. That's when a routine colonoscopy revealed cancer. Surgeons at MD Anderson removed her tumor, and she was again declared cancer-free.In her family's honor
While Paula's cancer journey has been a success, her sister, mother and brother-in-law died of lung cancer.
"My cancers were found early by routine diagnostic tests," says Paula. "But lung cancer is often caught too late."
Paula's sister, Debra, had one tumor in her lung and 15 more in her brain and liver. None
of the treatments she underwent could slow her cancer. And though brother-in-law Don's cancer was found earlier and treated, "it came back with a vengeance," Paula remembers.
Because she hopes for a day when all cancers can be caught in time for a positive outcome, Paula has made a generous gift to MD Anderson - a bequest of her annuities to help fund research toward early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.A mission to change lives
Paula realizes that every gift matters.
"I know my bequest is not as much as some can give, but my goal is that whatever I leave will help find cures and help cancer patients live better lives," she says.
Recently, Paula participated in an MD Anderson study on the effects of exercise on cancer survivors. She is happy to contribute to cancer research and is confident the institution will use her bequest wisely.
One day back in August 1990, Paula was waiting for her radiation treatment when she noticed a fellow patient, a man with a big white beard. A little girl sitting next to her observed that "Santa is sick, too."
"I may be sick now, but I'll be well by Christmas," the man said, without missing a beat.
It's that kind of hope that exemplifies Paula's experience at MD Anderson, and it's why she says, "I'm proud to be a part of it."