A taste for generosity
For many years, the only food Bill Hartigan, now 86, could taste was salty green olives - surgery and radiation therapy for sinus cancer had destroyed his senses of taste and smell.
But these days, he loves to sit down to a good ribeye steak and savor every bite. Getting a great deal of his taste back was an amazing and unexpected surprise!
Bill was diagnosed with sinus cancer that required extensive surgery and radiation therapy 26 years ago. Five years after that, he had bladder cancer, which later recurred. Then in 2011, ear, nose and throat specialists discovered that Bill had squamous cell sinus cancer again.
That's when the grandfather of four turned to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. At the recommendation of our head and neck doctors, Bill returned to Atlanta to have the tumor removed by his local ENT surgeon.
Then, in early spring 2013, he was again diagnosed with squamous cell cancer. Because of the location of the tumor, very near the carotid artery, surgery was out of the question.
The doctors at MD Anderson developed a treatment plan - 13 weeks of chemotherapy along with seven weeks of proton beam radiation. The tumor was completely eradicated.
Due to optic nerve damage, Bill lost the sight in his left eye. The radiation also created very painful glaucoma. The only way to relieve the pain was to have the eye removed. MD Anderson's anaplastologist Pattii Montgomery later created a prosthesis.
"It's an amazing thing," Bill says of his new eye. "Pattii worked on it for three days, and it looks so natural. She is one of the few anaplastologists in the country."
Six months later, Bill was again diagnosed with another squamous cell cancer. A surgical team at MD Anderson successfully removed the cancer. This time it required extensive reconstruction of his mouth and cheek.A gift of gratitude
Bill and his wife, Charlotte, have been donating to the MD Anderson Annual Fund for years. They are so pleased with his care that they recently created a Charitable Gift Annuity to help show their gratitude.
"MD Anderson is my comfort place when it comes to Bill's cancer," says Charlotte.
The idea for the Charitable Gift Annuity started when Charlotte and Bill had a "strange windfall." "We had stock from insurance that we had put in a drawer and forgotten about," Bill says. "One day, Charlotte happened upon the stock channel on TV and saw what it was worth, so we decided to sell it and give back to MD Anderson. We wanted to do something to help totally eradicate cancer."
Bill and Charlotte also appreciate that a Charitable Gift Annuity provides benefits, including an income stream and tax savings.
The couple's five children were totally supportive of their parents' contribution.
"We spoke to them all, and they are 100% behind it," Charlotte says. "They've been at MD Anderson with him and experienced the amazing quality of care he received there."Living life in good hands
Now Bill has his quality of life back. Not only can he play golf again, but he also doesn't have to eat green olives to taste every meal.
He returns to MD Anderson every three to six months for checkups, and he knows he's in good hands.