Susanne Harrington

University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Grant Awarded: $48,955

At M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the mission is simple – to eliminate cancer. Achieving that goal begins with integrated programs in cancer treatment, clinical trials, education programs and cancer prevention.

As wayfinding consultants for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the team at FD2S in Austin decided to let real people tell in their own words about their struggles with cancer. In doing so, they offer beneficial lessons in acceptance, in coping and in perseverance. And above all else, they offer an abundance of hope.

Their approach was simply to contact 13 spirited cancer survivors who were treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center, to turn on a tape recorder and let them talk about their own experiences. Then they designed a book to showcase the 13 powerful, life-affirming portraits, along with some of the most engaging quotes, in a lively and type sensitive format that would invite thumbing through, again and again, as one reels from the impact of the stories themselves.

As the books were distributed by volunteers at MD Anderson, requests started flooding in for additional copies. With distribution originally intended only to patients as they entered the institution, as word of the power and depth of the stories spread, the book found its way into areas of the hospital as diverse as Development, Public Education, Patient Education, Physician Relations and Marketing.