Alcester Couple Experience the Support of Avera – Times Two
An Alcester, S.D., couple not only share similar names and a history of 42 years together. They share the life-changing experience of cancer.
Bobette Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. “I had been watching a lump under my arm,” she said. The lump did not appear on mammograms or ultrasound. “But finally I had a biopsy and there it was.” Bobette underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy and then radiation. Today, she’s a seven-year cancer survivor.
Robert Anderson, who goes by Bob, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2010 after seeking medical care for severe back pain. He had intensive chemotherapy coupled with a bone marrow transplant, which effectively put the disease in remission.
Two cancer diagnoses within three years would be difficult for any family. Yet the Andersons said their journey was made easier by the support of Avera, as well as their family and friends. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
“Words can't begin to describe how you feel - it's like being wrapped in this big blanket of caring. There's love all around you.” - Bob Anderson
When Bob was in the hospital for his transplant, he asked if a chaplain could stop by every day. “I really looked forward to it. One day, the chaplain could not come, and I asked one of the nurses about it,” Bob related. That same nurse came in just a short time later and read some Bible verses and prayed with Bob. “It was wonderful. I thought, wow, this is a special place.”
Bob also remembers a morning during his hospital say when a lady came by his room to ask if he’d like a newspaper. “She was so concerned about how things were going. I asked who that was, and the nurse told me it was Sr. Mary Thomas, the Senior Vice President of Mission. I thought that she must have had more important things to do than bring me a newspaper, but I spent five minutes with her and felt so much better. It’s just that personal touch.”
When his hair started falling out, the nurses offered to shave his head, and even had a little fun with it. “They did a mohawk right away. It was fun and lighthearted, and it made me feel like family,” Bob said.
The Prairie Center itself is a place of serenity and hope, Bob says. “I had the feeling the first time I went there that this is the place we’re supposed to be. I’m always just astounded at the attitude everyone has.”
Bobette’s care was centered in the former Avera Cancer Institute, before the Prairie Center was completed in 2010. Yet even then, Avera cared for the whole person, body, mind and spirit.
“When I was in the hospital, chaplains came in daily and visited and prayed with me, and that was a comfort, too.” - Bobette Anderson
“The nurses acted as if they truly cared. They were friendly, happy, positive people. When I was in the hospital, chaplains came in daily and visited and prayed with me, and that was a comfort, too,” Bobette said.
Because of his wife’s positive experience with cancer care, Bob says he was less fearful at his diagnosis. “I was actually glad to find out what it was, because I was so miserable with my back pain. When Dr. Kelly (McCaul) came in to talk to me about my diagnosis, I said, OK, let’s get started. I had all the confidence in the world.” In fact, Bob started chemotherapy at 9 p.m. the very same day he was diagnosed. He was also fitted with a back brace that helped him get on the road toward healing.
“We both just had the feeling that we were in great hands,” Bob said.
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