Who Is Betty Garrett?
When Betty Garrett's husband, Gene, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2003, she was his primary caregiver and battled it with him. When his cancer came back a year later, she decided she needed additional support for herself.
Baylor University Medical Center, where Gene was undergoing treatment, did not offer a support group for caregivers. Garrett looked further and realized there were plenty of groups for patients and caregivers, but she didn't want her husband to know how overwhelming, frustrating and devastating this journey was for her.
In July 2004, Garrett worked with Baylor staff to develop the hospital's Support Group for Family and Friends of Cancer Patients. Designed especially for caregivers, this forum provided its members with opportunities to discuss their challenges and victories and walk away knowing they had support, too.
"I met Betty Garrett through an industry organization, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) many years ago. In September 2011 our chapter of MPI DFW did a two day retreat for our senior level meeting professionals. Knowing what Betty had gone through and knowing that many members of our chapter were having their own challenges or would face this type of challenge at some point, Betty offered to develop a program titled, 'Personal Crisis Management: Life Happens'. She spoke to us about being prepared and having a plan. She gave us copies of her Life Contingency Plan Worksheet. Little did I know that only a few short months later when my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness that the worksheet would become critical in my life. With Betty's guidance, I had every document that I needed available for the hospital and doctors. Without it, I wouldn't have had medical power of attorney, the advance directive and other documents on hand when I needed them most. Because Betty helped me prepare, I was able to move my husband out of the hospital and into hospice when it was time. Betty Garrett is my personal angel." Sandi Galloway
Soon after Gene died in November 2004, Betty began to share her knowledge with others. She offers training sessions for the oncology team about how to effectively assist the cancer caregiver, based on her physical journey as well as advice from medical authorities, attorneys, financial counselors, hospice workers and organizations devoted to cancer research. Plus she has the experience of setting up effective support groups.
Garrett authored From Chaos to Control: A Survival Guide for the Cancer Caregiver, a how-to manual for caregivers tending cancer patients. It is a must read for those undergoing challenges with care giving. She also has developed the Caregivers Companion to assist caregivers in coping with the appointments, treatments, medications, etc. all in one book. She is a contributing writer to Coping for Cancer Magazine.
In November 2008, Garrett faced yet another challenge. She herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a biopsy, lumpectomy and radiation. Then, she developed an infection that 10 weeks of intensive antibiotic treatment could not resolve. In july 2009, she had a mastectomy. Always the optimist, Betty sees her personal experience with cancer as an opportunity to gain insights and knowledge to complement that of being a caregiver. Having walked both sides of the cancer diagnosis, she is working even harder to educate others about what lies ahead when the "C" word affects their lives or that of a loved one.
Betty Garrett holds a business management degree from LeTourneau University and has more than 32 years of experience in the training, hospitality and travel industries.
Her company, Garrett Speakers International, is a full-service speakers bureau that matches the right keynote speakers and trainers with meetings, conventions and seminars. Garrett has won numerous industry awards locally and internationally.