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Anderson Looks Back On Year Of Battling Breast Cancer

WENDY ANDERSON

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce Director Wendy Anderson has had a more challenging year or so than most — while helping and promoting area businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, she also has been battling breast cancer.

Now she is looking back on the local support that helped her through this difficult time and giving advice and encouragement to other women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Looking back on my experience, it’s still fresh. It was a year in August that I was diagnosed, and it will be a year in December that I went through my treatments, but I am still learning. Every single day I am still learning about cancer. The mental aspect, the physical aspect of it, and I take every opportunity to learn.”

She admits the experience was frightening.

“I was scared. I was really scared because my whole family, all the women in my family, they all have breast cancer and my mom died of breast cancer,” Anderson said. “It’s been an uphill battle, but I know frame of mind is the most important thing.”

In terms of physical, mental and emotional support, Anderson commended the Strength for Life program offered through the Ryan Ferns Healthplex in Benwood, but she added she was unable to commit to the program due to her schedule.

“It’s a group of women who have cancer, different stages of cancer,” she said. “You exercise and you talk to these women.”

Information about the program can be obtained by calling 304-218-2300.

Anderson said her husband, Dave Anderson, and family were there for her and that her friends have been invaluable.

“I have a group of friends and they’re my ‘girl tribe.’ There’s been several of them who’ve been extremely helpful and been there for me,” she said. “If I have a bad day, they don’t hold it against me.”

Anderson said she was able to put her anxiety aside and get lost in work during the pandemic.

“Work has been the thing that’s gotten me through. I worked through the whole thing. I never took off any time,” she said. “My cancer hit right at COVID, and it was the worst possible timing. And yet, on the other side, it was the best timing, because I didn’t have time to think about myself. I didn’t have time to think about me. I had to deal with my work and the businesses and navigating through the COVID the best way that we could.”

Anderson also noted the importance of taking time to care for herself.

“It’s been tough, but I have to push past it,” she said. “Being the director of the chamber, I always have to be ‘on,'” she said. “I want to portray that healthy attitude, but at nighttime when I go home, sometimes I am so tired, and I am so sore, but I rejuvenate myself. … That self-care is extremely important.”

She has completed radiation treatments and visits Trinity Health System in Steubenville.

She will be on medication for the next five years.

She said one reality of battling cancer is the awareness that time in the future is not guaranteed.

“I have 13 grandchildren, and I worry if I’m going to see them graduate. Get married. Any milestone in their lives,” she said.

Anderson has advice for other women who may be facing a breast cancer diagnosis:

“Take a minute. Breathe. Don’t think about all the bad things. Think about all the good things in your life and reach out to someone who has it. I reached out to several women that I know who have breast cancer,” she said. “I’m here. I’m available. Anybody can call and talk to me at the chamber office. … That’s what we need. We need to stick together and don’t be afraid to call.”

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