Fe Crawford had "graduated" – the breast cancer that brought her and her family from the Philippines to MD Anderson in 1990 had been in remission for four years.
Her new life in Houston, Texas, was good. "I was working as a nurse, busy raising my family, busy with church and volunteering at MD Anderson." But just when life seemed normal again, Fe began to experience shortness of breath.
"I called my doctor," Fe says. "I told him, 'Something is not right.' " She went to MD Anderson the following day. Seven days later, Fe Crawford was undergoing surgery for a new suspicious lung lesion.
Lung cancer was the diagnosis, and it was completely independent of the breast cancer Fe had before. "I was upset because I thought, 'Oh my God, I have to go through this again,' " she says.
Treatment from MD Anderson
Yet Fe had a great deal of faith in herself. "I told myself: 'I am going to lick this thing,' " she says. She also had faith in her team of doctors. "I knew whatever new treatment there was, they were going to make it available to me," she says. "I knew I was in the best hospital for cancer."
Fe's thoracic surgeon made the decision to remove part of her lung versus the entire lobe. Susan Knippel, Fe's nurse practitioner, explains: "Because of Fe's history of asthma and breast cancer, preserving as much lung as possible really gave her a functional advantage. And to ensure Fe's lung cancer does not return, her clinical care team continues to monitor her through follow-up appointments."
"Fifteen years," Fe says. "That's how long I've been cancer-free."
Today, when Fe's not working as a hospice nurse, she's busy singing in her church choir, ballroom dancing with her husband and keeping up with her four grandchildren. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for my family, my faith and my belief in the doctors at MD Anderson."
Fe still spends a great deal of time at MD Anderson. Not as a patient, though, but as a cancer support group volunteer. Fe says, "If I can contribute to even one person's recovery and survivorship, that is the greatest thing for me."