Doctor restores woman's hope

By Ron Jackson Published: September 30, 2005
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Hurricane Katrina took many things from New Orleans evacuee Wanda Richardson, including the will to undergo breast cancer surgery.

Love has given her strength to renew the fight.

For Richardson, that love flowed from many directions Thursday at the OU Medical Center - Dr. William Dooley, director of the OU Breast Institute; long-time friend Linda Powell; Red Cross volunteer Gina Humphrey of Muskogee; and parish nurse Caryl Prati of Moore. All attended Richardson's first doctor's appointment since she survived the storm.

Dooley triggered the landslide of compassion, offering to donate his services for Richardson's surgery. He learned of Richardson's saga in an article that appeared in The Oklahoman about Camp Gruber evacuees.

"I was scheduled to have breast cancer surgery August 31, said Richardson, 50, and now living in Glenpool. "The storm hit August 29. Everything was just going so fast. I was fighting for my life. I felt hopeless.

"I figured I had it and I'll die with it.

Richardson's outlook changed dramatically during her three-week stay at Camp Gruber, especially the day she was asked to retrieve a message at the camp medical center.

"It was amazing, Humphrey said.

Richardson cried when she read about Dr. Dooley's offer, and was so elated she left his contact information at the medical center. Her family medical history provides some insight into her joy.

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