The Thriver: Anna Wassman
Being present helps us see where we really are. All you have is time.

As told to Britt Julious

Before my diagnosis, life was always busy. I did ballet professionally at the Joffrey, and then I went back to school at Loyola. I was also working full time. I was in really good health, exercising a lot, and eating healthy. My breast cancer diagnosis was definitely unexpected and terrible timing, but I think these things usually are.

[After my diagnosis], I took a step back and thought, “Hey, this happened, but I’m going to get through this. And I’m going to do everything I can in my power to push through and be okay. Let’s do whatever I have to do to be healthy again. It will all be fine.”

I used ways to distract myself by setting goals: of still graduating from college, of accepting a job offer. For the first couple of months, I was able to rely on schoolwork and exams. That definitely kept me busy. And once I wasn’t in school, once I took that leave of absence from work, I got really involved in the breast cancer community and joined a bunch of different groups. I found Gilda’s Club and the Breasties. I went to events from Susan G. Komen. I reached out to people from Imerman Angels. Not only did I get a mentor angel, but I became one. I not only wanted to be a part of it because I was going through it, I wanted to help people who were going through it and having a harder time [than me].

Being present helps us see where we really are. All you have is time.

I think my optimistic outlook on everything helped me. Just try and stay positive. It helped me stay present, making sure I was OK after treatment. Yes, it is extremely hard on your body, and it’s extremely hard emotionally, physically, and mentally. But I think that if you can try and somehow find the silver lining in things, it will help. Being present helps us see where we really are. All you have is time.

My cancer journey was crazy and scary and one of the hardest things I had to go through. It’s one of those things where, when you’re in the middle of it, you kind of forget that, in the beginning, [you told yourself] you were going to make it through. And I did. I’m on the other side of it now.


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