Sandra Smith said the call came in the middle of a dinner date with her late husband, Sanford (Sandy).
"He was a dentist, so when he got up to take a call I thought he was being paged," she recalled. "But he came back to the table and said, 'I have pancreatic cancer.'"
Sandra was shocked. It took six months and six physicians to diagnose the pain Sandy had been enduring. But it took only a few moments for the Houston couple to decide where to turn for treatment - MD Anderson.
"We were very lucky to be so close to a world-class treatment center," says Sandra. "I still remember how helpful everyone was."
"Sandy braved seven or eight protocols and hoped that, even if the treatments didn't help him, they could help other patients in the future," Sandra notes.
A positive outlook, coupled with MD Anderson's state-of-the-art treatment, kept Sandy going, she says.
"Sandy and I celebrated milestone birthdays and anniversaries during his illness," says Sandy. "I owe all of that to MD Anderson."
Today, Sandra makes monthly contributions to MD Anderson to benefit pancreatic cancer research. She also has provided for a gift through her will to MD Anderson.
"MD Anderson made an extremely tough time easier," Sandra explains. "They are first in my book and I think Sandy would have totally supported my decision."
"I firmly believe in having a will and keeping it updated," Sandra continues. "We had a family friend whose wishes, unfortunately, were not carried out because they were not properly written and recorded. That has always been a lesson to me. It is comforting to know my plans are in place and my gift to MD Anderson is included, as I intend."