Cornelia resident Fredda Waters has worked in health care for most of her life; 36 years to be exact. She sees a lot of patients who are suffering from major illnesses. And, unfortunately, Fredda can truly relate to what they are going through.
Fredda is a three-time cancer survivor. That’s right – no one likes to hear they have cancer not even one time – let alone three different times and with three different cancers. It is unimaginable.
Her first courageous battle with cancer started in 1991 when she was diagnosed with rectal cancer. “My mom died a few years earlier from cancer, and I was still grieving her loss,” says Fredda. It was a stressful diagnosis and while Fredda’s life was spared, it resulted in the loss of an unborn child. “I was devastated,” adds Fredda. “You never really overcome something like that.”
Then, in 2005 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having been through cancer before, Fredda wasn’t concerned or worried. “I knew the doctors found something concerning on my images and that more testing would be needed,” she explains. A biopsy confirmed her breast cancer diagnosis. “I then fought back with a lumpectomy but that wasn’t enough. I had to have another lumpectomy and then ultimately had to have the breast removed.”
And that’s when another roller coaster of emotions began. “Once again, I was devastated,” she says. “I didn’t want to have a mastectomy or be out of work. But, I had to have the surgery the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It was rough, but it was part of the Lord’s plan for my life and once again, it was an exercise of my faith.”
Once she recovered from the breast cancer surgery, Fredda returned to her job and back to taking care of her family. “It was important to me to get back to everyday living. Just cooking supper every night for my husband and daughter was good therapy. My family was very supportive of me during my illness and that made all the difference in the world.”
Fredda lost her loving and supportive husband, John, two years ago. “Even with the cancer setbacks, losing him was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. We were married 36 years and my heart is still broken that he is gone.”
And recently, Fredda found out that she has stage one uterine cancer. So, once again she is fighting back. “Even though there is so much in our lives we can’t control, we have to stay in the ‘driver’s seat’,” she explains. “Early detection is the only cure for cancer – period! Working in a hospital, I see patients who are in worse shape than I am. And, I’m grateful that God put me in a position to know what pain is, so I can relate to others and share my strength. I am a medical technologist at Habersham Medical Center and not long ago, I was sent to draw blood from a young lady in the emergency department. She looked very weak and scared. I immediately noticed the pain in her eyes and took the opportunity to tell her, ‘I may not look sick, but I know what you are going through. It is going to be ok.’”
With faith in her heart and determination in her eyes, Fredda exclaims, “Yes, if I can fight, anybody can fight!” We all have something to be thankful for this holiday season. Even through life’s struggles – rather large or small - Fredda’s life is a reminder that all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and live one day at a time and be truly thankful for each day.