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Battling cancer while promoting businesses

St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce Director Wendy Anderson, right, with administrative assistant Michaela Miller prepare for an event in late 2019. Anderson would be battling breast cancer while promoting area businesses during the pandemic in 2020.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce Director Wendy Anderson chose to begin the New Year by sharing a message of hope during dark times — she has waged a battle with breast cancer through the COVID-19 pandemic, but few would have known by observing her continued efforts to promote area businesses.

“I beat cancer (in 2020). I’m thinking 2021 is going to be better than what I went through,” she said.

She was diagnosed early in 2020.

“They took the cancer out, and then I had to go for some treatments,” she said. This meant trips to Wheeling Hospital for treatment. “At 9 a.m. and at 3 p.m. I had to go to Wheeling Hospital and be hooked up and have intensive radiation treatment. I had to put it off because my daughter was having her first baby, and he was five weeks premature, so I had a whole bunch of stress going on and trying to run the chamber. There was some difficult times.”

Local residents tend to show support and encouragement to those going through difficult times, and this was no exception, she said.

“I had a port in my side. It was literally 12 inches long,” she said. “It was stitched there. It was very uncomfortable for 10 days.

“It was the most uncomfortable thing I could have ever expected, and during those 10 days I still did a couple commercials and nobody knew,” she said. “What would it have served somebody to know I didn’t feel good? It wouldn’t have served anybody.

“The outpour of love that I had from my family and my friends and the local businesses was incredible,” she added. “They looked out for me, they called me. The cards I got.”

Anderson also marked a personal milestone.

“I turned 60 years old … just a couple weeks ago. All of that happened in 2020,” she said. “We received our 13th grandchild, I had cancer and I turned 60, and a pandemic. It was not a bad year. I feel extremely lucky, very blessed in whatever happened, and if I have a recurrence, I’ll deal with it the same way I dealt with this. I’ll go into it with a positive mindset.”

“I don’t believe in hiding. I don’t believe in putting my head in the sand and looking the other way. I believe in heading for every problem face-first,” she said.

Anderson gives the same advice to area residents that she gives to local businesses struggling to meet the changes and hardships imposed by COVID-19.

“You cannot be negative,” she said. “Every time you think you can’t take it anymore or you have to close your business because of something … you’ve got to reach down and find it inside and pull it out. You’ve got to pull yourself up and you’ve got to say, ‘I can do this.’

“Because of the local businesses rallying around me, lifting me up and telling me I could do it — it was the local people, my local community, the local businesses doing it — that I had the strength when I went to the hospital and did my treatment,” she said. “My story is nothing more than anybody else’s. There’s a lot of women that go through this. I’m a big supporter of early detection, mammograms.”

She added that she had been on the lookout for the signs of such a disease.

“My mom passed away with breast cancer. It’s in my family, my cousin has it. It’s a high probability that I would have cancer.”

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