CUMMING — A mother of three who spends her days being a saving force for foster children throughout Forsyth County recently received a miracle of her own.
Ashley Anderson, who runs Supporting Adoption & Foster Families Together with husband Brian Anderson, had been sick on and off since November. Strep, nausea, fatigue.
“At one point, my levels were so high that it was almost like rheumatic fever,” Anderson said. “It was weird. I was healthy, but I kept getting sick.”
After beginning to feel more or less constant stomach pains, she went to a gynecologist in August. Tests showed nothing alarming.
But even as she left the office, Anderson said, she felt as if she had the flu or strep. Again.
“The next day, I was worse. I was supposed to present at the [local] chamber of commerce on SAFFT that day, and my husband said, ‘You have to go to the doctor, and I’ll fill in for you.’
“My strep culture came back negative. So I was checking out of his office, and I felt like I couldn’t drive myself home.”
The next thing she knew, she woke up on the floor of her doctor’s office. She had passed out. So she went back for more tests, and an ultrasound revealed what nearly a year’s worth of tests had missed.
“He called me two hours after and he said, ‘Ashley, you have a mass the size of a grapefruit on your right ovary. It’s nearly replacing the ovary. I’ve already called your doctor. They’re going to get you in today or tomorrow,’” she said.
A blood test came back positive for ovarian cancer. Her right ovary would be taken out.
“It was just really scary,” she said. “It happened so quickly. I just thought I had strep throat … I was in so much pain. I could work, but in my job I’m out and about, and I’m with people. And being a mom of three kids and having to worry and be down and sick. And now thinking that it’s cancerous.”
About a week later, she went into surgery to have the tumor removed.
“The surgeon came in and he said he thought I was going to be fine,” Anderson said.
She went under anesthesia for a robotic surgery.
“He started with the camera. When he went in, after about an hour, all my family was there, and he talked to my husband and my mom. He showed them three images,” she said. “He said there was nothing there. It’s gone.”
The grapefruit-sized tumor on her ovary has not reappeared since. She hasn’t felt symptoms of strep since. Or nausea. Or fatigue. Just typical post-surgery recovery .
Anderson said she credits everyone who prayed for a miracle. And as long as doctors continue to be unable to explain the cancerous tumor’s disappearance, that’s what she will call it.
“I do remember the day of the surgery I had this blanket of peace over me. I should have been really nervous and freaking out,” she said. “I do believe it was because the Lord was with me I had this everlasting, unifying peace.”
She said her current pain is different because of the recovery from surgery. But it is manageable.
“I would like to say that I had faith because everybody wants to have faith … I didn’t ask God to take [the tumor] from me. I just asked to help me get through it, but I felt guilty because there are so many kids who are sick and all these people who need help,” she said. “… It really gave me a lot of perspective that being young and being busy, you really do take for granted your health.
“When you go through something like this and your community and family and friends just step up and take care of you and are willing to do whatever it takes … It’s like God is revealing himself to you and showing you he’s there and showing you [that] you matter.”