Mother’s Cancer Battle Prompts Turning Tables For Onetime Textile Designer

August 1, 2019
By: Karen E. Butler, Director of Communications

Susan C. Hicks Hope Charities To Host Benefit Golf Tournament

Anderson Garrett, AGNP-BC, MSN; her sister Elizabeth Hefner; mother Susan Hicks; and father Gary Hicks pose in front of a New York City backdrop. The family visited New York while Susan Hicks was receiving treatment for lung cancer. Susan lost her battle with cancer in October 2006—just six months after her diagnosis.Having earned a degree in textile design from North Carolina State University, Anderson Garrett was working for a textile manufacturing company when in April 2006 her mother learned she had adenocarcinoma, a non-small cell lung cancer more likely to strike non-smokers than people who smoke.

“My mom had never smoked, so it was a complete shock to find out she had stage 3 lung cancer,” shared Garrett, now a nurse practitioner with Duke Division of Hematologic Malignancies & Cellular Therapy. “Although the odds were against us, we were ready for battle.”

It was as Garrett journeyed cancer alongside her mother that she first questioned her own life’s path.

“I was sitting next to my mom’s hospital bed when one of the nurses walked in,” Garrett shared. “It was in that moment, as I watched that nurse, I realized I was called to do something in else in life. I asked myself, ‘Am I doing what I’m supposed to do?’”

A few months after the loss of her mother, Garrett began taking night classes at a community college—prerequisites required for applying to nursing school. Accepted in 2007 to Duke University School of Nursing, Garrett resigned from her job. Through the school’s accelerated program, she graduated 16 months later with her nursing degree and promptly began caring for patients at Duke.

Having promised her mother the family would continue her fight, Garrett, her father and her sister established the Susan C. Hicks Hope Charities, an organization dedicated to raising funds to support lung cancer research.

“The idea of organizing a charity was first conceived while Mom was in treatment,” said Garrett, who also went on to earn a master’s degree. “Mom believed she had to survive and help others. Her spirit is what drives our family to continue this fight against lung cancer. By doing this, we survive for her.”Garrett, her sister and her father pose for a photo at a previous benefit golf tournament held in Hickory, North Carolina. This year's golf tournament will be held in Durham for the first time. In memory of their mother and wife, in 2007 the family established the Susan C. Hicks Hope Charities.

The nonprofit has raised thousands of dollars for lung cancer research over the past 12 years. Susan C. Hicks Hope Charities hosts an annual golf tournament to raise funds for the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina, an organization awarding research grants to lung cancer researchers across North Carolina. Historically held in Newton-Conover, North Carolina, this year, for the first time, the tournament will take place in Durham, North Carolina.

“We expect to raise $50,000,” shared Garrett, who finds comfort in knowing she was able to discuss with her mom her plans to leave the textile industry to become a nurse.

The 2019 Triangle Lung Cancer Golf Tournament, hosted by Susan C. Hicks Hope Charities, takes place Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Course. The event includes lunch, which will be followed by a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Course is located at 3001 Cameron Blvd., in Durham, North Carolina.

For more information, email Paige Humble at phumble@lungcancerinitiative.org or call 919.784.0410. To register, visit 2019 Triangle Lung Cancer Golf Classic.