Betty Tang was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 2011. Trained as a pediatrician, she became a senior scientist in cancer research at the Harvard School of Public Health, and went on to work for such prestigious companies as AstraZenaca, Cancer Bioscience, Novartis Oncology and Pfizer Drug Safety. Betty’s journey over the past three years has not been easy — she has endured multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, and also suffered from serious infections, kidney failure and unbearable pain. Despite these circumstances, she has chosen to help many other patients and families facing their own battles with cancer.
Betty turned to arts and crafts following her cancer diagnosis. According to her Mass General oncologist, Richard Penson, MD, Betty is “a whirlwind of creative energy.” Betty learned new skills such as knitting and jewelrymaking, and has made more than 800 beautiful art pieces, including bracelets, necklaces, animal hats, flower hats and scarves. She gives them to fellow patients, her caregivers and friends.
Betty has passed her remarkable spirit and desire to help others on to her nine-year-old son, Brian. Betty and Brian initiated a weekly art program at the Yawkey Family Inn at Boston Children’s Hospital, which houses many young cancer patients and their families during treatment. Says one nominator, this program brings “some happiness to the sick children and their family during a difficult time…and [Betty] helps lift their spirits and sense of hope with her own story of survival and fighting against life-threatening diseases.”
For the past two years, Betty and Brian have also organized fundraising events at Belmont Elementary School, where Betty sells her artwork to raise funds to support the art program at the Yawkey Family Inn. Dr. Penson says, “Through all this she teaches Brian. Betty models living and loving. She shows Brian how to give when cancer takes; how to hope despite the losses. Betty and Brian put love to work.”
Says another nominator, “Betty reminds us everyday how meaningful and wonderful life is despite all the challenges. She is truly our hero in the fight against cancer.”