Professor's research put to the test after cancer diagnosis

Dr. Wendy Casper, was at the peak in her profession when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. As a team at UT Southwestern worked to protect her life, Casper found new meaning in her teaching of work-life balance. Read story.

Transcript

[Wendy] So, why would you go to work even if you don't want to?

[Narrator] Dr. Wendy Casper has devoted her life to work.

To get money.

[Narrator] She researches work-life balance and educates PHD students in the College of Business at the University of Texas at Arlington. But, this time last year.

It was a big surprise and it kinda rocked my world.

[Narrator] The 52 year old had her studies of organizational psychology personally put to the test when she was given the diagnosis of triple-positive breast cancer.

[Wendy] I never anticipated that I would hear those words.

[Narrator] Casper, a professor of 15 years, had just gotten married to her husband, Roger, and she had just received two job promotions. She was at the peak in her profession.

There were really no indicators at all that I had breast cancer until they called me after my mammogram.

[Narrator] An annual mammogram she never missed.

[Wendy] If I had been late for my mammogram, missed it for six months or a year, who knows? I could've been into stage four.

Just the diagnosis cancer is shocking to a patient. It was a very scary proposition.

[Narrator] Shortly after receiving the life-altering news, Casper arrived at UT Southwestern's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, and began her care under a team of oncology experts, including Dr. Barbara Haley.

And so, with each treatment, we're hoping to keep diminishing the tumor mass until, hopefully, we have no tumor mass for the patient.

[Narrator] After six rounds of chemotherapy, Casper's surgeon performed a lumpectomy and took out six lymph nodes, followed by 20 sessions of radiation treatment.

It really made me very aware of a new work-life balance issue that I had yet to study. I attribute my ability to continue my work, it was really, I mean, the UT system, it was UT Southwestern and UTA together. It feels good!

[Narrator] Though the past year has been a challenging journey for Casper, she credits UT Southwestern for getting her back on her feet. Now, her goal is to pay it forward by studying how cancer patients handle work during treatment and what their employers can do to help. It's one, I feel incredibly grateful to be here, to be alive, to be able to enjoy my life with my husband, to be able to start to incorporate work-life balance and cancer treatment into what I study as a researcher.

[Narrator] Lessons she takes back to the classroom, sharing her evidence on how precious life truly is.

[Wendy] I'm aware that we don't know what's gonna happen, and so we need to remind ourselves that today is the day what we're living.