When her doctor pronounced the dreaded “c” word over Terressa Anderson, her first thought wasn’t about herself.
“I wondered how to tell people. I was okay with that word – ‘cancer,’” she said. “I wondered ‘How am I going to tell everyone? I have a new grandson.’”
Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015. She’d found something unusual six months earlier, but it turned out to be just a cyst. On a follow-up, doctors found a cancerous lump.
At first, Anderson had a lumpectomy, but a closer look at the lymph nodes revealed cancer, so she had a mastectomy in May 2015 followed by chemotherapy and radiation. She finished her radiation in January and was scheduled for reconstructive surgery Oct. 25.
Allowing herself time to heal meant giving up a job she loved.
“I was with the Disciples of Christ camping ministry for five years. The hardest thing to learn was to let things go to let myself be taken care of,” said Anderson, who now works as the site coordinator for the North Jefferson YMCA in Wrens for its Prime Time and summer day camp program.
While it was hard to tell people about the cancer, Anderson said she found those people to be her biggest supporters, and she relied on their encouragement.
When she left the camp, she received many encouraging notes and cards. If she was feeling down, she pulled out one of these cards, or she’d read healing scriptures to soothe her mind.
She also thought a lot about her grandson, Beau, and how she wanted to be there to spend time in his life. He and other family members gave her strength, she said.
Anderson said that as strange as it might sound, “I received a blessing from cancer, from the people I met to the doctors I had.”
Now she passes on what others did for her by sharing her story and encouraging others.
“After my diagnosis, I found so many people who were diagnosed. I felt good that I could share my story,” she said.