A Grateful Survivor: Making Cancer History® for Melanoma
Maria Rosa More knows about cancer. She's beaten it twice. She helps care for cancer patients in a major hospital oncology unit. She understands the importance of cancer researchand the great value of charitable giving to support it.
More was introduced to cancer 26 years ago. After years of sunbathing on the beaches of Venezuela (where she moved as a child from her native Spain), she began fretting over a growing mole. "I finally went to a plastic surgeon to have it removed," she recalls. "He took out part of it and told me it was melanoma. I thought I was going to die."
She quickly shared the diagnosis with a close friend, a Venezuelan physician who had completed a fellowship in Houston. "He said I needed to go to MD Anderson," she says. "That was on a Friday, and the next Wednesday I was in Houston."
At MD Anderson, More was put at ease by Charles McBride, M.D., a surgeon who removed the potentially deadly melanoma. Chemotherapy followed, and she became cancer-free. But she learned that McBride, who always made her "feel like everything was going to be OK," was not well himself. He later died of pancreatic cancer.
A few years ago, More paid special tribute to McBride through a deferred charitable gift annuityestablished in his memory to help advance melanoma research at MD Anderson. "I don't have much money but what I have, I wanted to give to the people who helped me so much. Dr. McBride and everyone were so incredible and caring every time I came to MD Anderson," says More, who continued annual follow-ups for 20 years.
During one of those visits, eight years after she battled melanoma, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and had a lumpectomy. Today she's 62, glad to be "alive, strong and healthy."
"I never take that for granted, and it makes me very happy that I could give something that would help other patients. I feel it's important to give whatever you can, no matter the amount," says More, who weekly helps feed the hungry in Miami, where she moved years ago to be closer to Houston.
Through a charitable gift annuity, an individual (or couple) gives a gift of cash or stock to MD Anderson. In return, the donor receives a current income tax deduction and fixed paymentspartly tax freefor life.
"This will be great when I retire and it's a great way to add to my savings now," says More, who deferred payments until last year, ensuring a higher annuity rate and a larger gift to MD Anderson. But those who will benefit the most are future patients whose lives may be saved through research enabled by her generosity and foresight.