Resilience in the face of a 38-year cancer journey

Pat Gruy has received six cancer diagnoses since 1978. Despite this, Pat has refused to be negative. “I don’t ever feel sorry myself,” says the Beeville, Texas native. “I never ask, ‘Why me?’ – and I never will.” Pat’s first cancer diagnosis – melanoma — came after her partner (now husband) noticed that a spot on her back was bleeding while the pair played a doubles tennis match. “I wasn’t worried,” Pat says. “I thought it was probably just a regular mole.” Pat’s local doctor removed the mole and sent it to a lab for testing. When they learned she had stage III melanoma, Pat’s doctor referred her to MD Anderson. “I was really afraid,” Pat says. At that time, MD Anderson had just one building with adjacent parking. She remembers the nurses dressed in traditional white scrub dresses with coordinating caps. Pat’s doctors were much like the ones who see her today: thorough and caring. They removed a larger area affected by the melanoma on her back between her shoulders. Pat returned home, and the area healed. Five more cancer diagnoses – and metastasis For the next 15 years, Pat returned to MD Anderson for check-ups. But in 1993, a CT scan ordered by Paul Mansfield, M.D., revealed lung cancer. Garrett Walsh, M.D., removed the right upper lung lobe, and Pat received a clear report. Pat soon returned to playing golf and tennis. “But cancer is a very sneaky disease,” she says. “All of a sudden, it pops up.” From a routine colonoscopy in 2006, Pat learned that she had colorectal cancer. She had surgery near her home and...