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Kathy's Story: Above and Beyond

Kathy McDaniel and Family Kathy McDaniel has a lot of good things to say when asked about her care at the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center but she sums it up with these words: “They truly go above and beyond, and they truly make you feel cared for.”

After Kathy first heard the words, it looks like cancer, Memorial Hermann Cancer Center staff went out of their way to meet with Kathy and her husband, Clay. “They treated us with incredible compassion and kindness and after looking at other treatment facilities, we realized that the Lord guided us to the right place,” she says.

What makes the difference? “We were people, not numbers,” she explains, “and the staff is caring and joyful. They always greet us with a smile and warm welcome. Most importantly, though, it is a place of hope.“

At age 37, her 2013 diagnosis of stage IV colorectal cancer that had spread extensively to her liver, spine and other bones was a shock.

“What we found at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center — which we didn’t find at other cancer centers — was a doctor willing to fight this battle with us,” she says, “and willing to think outside the box of normal treatment options. Willing to be, as he said, my ‘best friend and worst enemy’ as we fight together through difficult treatments. Our goal is to give me as much time with Clay and our three young children as the Lord would allow.”

Kathy believes that the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center, Robert Amato, D.O., and his staff “are a few of God’s countless provisions for our family.” Dr. Amato is acting director of the division of oncology at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and chief of the division of oncology at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center.

Kathy and her husband find that many of the nurses and medical staff at the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center are among the most compassionate people they have known. “One person offered to drive across town to make sure my labs were processed in time for my doctor’s appointment and chemo treatment,” she recalls. Several have called or texted Kathy in the evening after a particularly difficult day of treatment, just to make sure she is okay.

“I think the medical expertise and advanced technologies that the Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann offer are second to none,” Kathy explains, “and when you combine the medical side with the personal side, it’s truly a dynamic we haven’t heard of anywhere else.”

The family continues to build special memories. “It has been a special treat when Dr. Amato has given me a week off from treatment so that we could take our three kids (ages 10, 9 and 6) on vacation. Fighting to stay alive is only worth it if you’re really living and making a difference in your relationships. Overall, we try to make every day count.”

Kathy adds that they are very thankful. “We have a doctor who is leading the way in cancer research and who’s willing to go the extra mile to help me and others lead functioning, productive lives in spite of a cancer diagnosis.”