Dr. Bethany Anderson, an Assistant Professor of Human Oncology at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, feels privileged to treat cancer patients and hopes that cancer research will enable her to do more for them.
Anderson, a Wisconsin native, knew by age 10 that she wanted to be a doctor. She developed a strong interest in cancer during an undergraduate internship and went on to earn her MD at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, where she also completed her residency in radiation oncology.
As a radiation oncologist, Anderson develops treatment plans and administers radiation therapy mostly to patients with breast or gynecological cancers.
“We come alongside people when they’ve just gotten some pretty tough news, and we have the potential to help them through that phase of life,” Anderson says. “Getting up every day, knowing I have the ability to make a meaningful impact on a patient’s quality of life or length of life keeps me going.”
One of the most challenging diseases Anderson treats is triple-negative breast cancer, which is sometimes aggressive and often strikes women at a young age. “Unfortunately, the treatments for triple-negative breast cancer are not always as effective as we would hope,” she says. “I wish so much that I could do a lot more for these women.”
Anderson is optimistic about research efforts to discover new treatment approaches for patients with triple-negative cancer developed by her colleague Dr. Deric Wheeler, associate professor of human oncology at UWCCC.
“One of the things I really appreciate working at UW is learning about really promising research that is coming out of places such as Deric Wheeler’s Lab and the hope they can be translated into the clinic to help women I work with,” Anderson says.
Anderson hopes to help keep the momentum for this and other research going by participating and encouraging others to participate in The Ride, a bicycle fundraiser for cancer research at the University of Wisconsin.
Last year, Anderson rode the 62-mile route of The Ride, which gave her plenty of solitude and time to think. In addition to thinking about all the great research The Ride will enable, inevitably, her thoughts turned to her patients.
“I was thinking a lot about one woman I treated in particular. She loved biking and passed away before The Ride happened. I thought about how much she would have loved to have been out there with us,” Anderson says. “No matter what life dealt her, she always found the silver lining. She represents the type of person who I hope will benefit from future research supported by The Ride.”
Anderson will participate in The Ride again this year and encourages others to as well. “In addition to helping to fund cancer research at the University of Wisconsin, The Ride is a healthy and life-affirming activity. Whether it’s five miles with your kids, 15, 30 or whatever distance you set for yourself, everybody wins by participating in The Ride.”
Join Beth at The Ride on September 17!