Nevertheless, a mammogram was scheduled as a precautionary measure and before she knew it, a sonogram and core biopsy were ordered. Within a few days, a nurse practitioner from Kaiser called her at work with the devastating news: "You have cancer." A surgery date was set and she immediately called her HR department, unsure of when she might return to work.
By January of 2004, doctors had performed two lumpectomy surgeries and a mastectomy. While at John Muir Medical Center, Wanda learned about programs offered by the American Cancer Society. So began a long, six-month process of chemotherapy. By Feb. 13, 2004, she started losing her hair and decided to shave it off.
Fortunately for Wanda, her faith in God strengthened her through this difficult journey. One day she prayed, "God, if you're ready to take me, fine, but if your plan is to keep me here I'm going to need your help. From that moment on I had a peace that has stayed with me even to this day."
Wanda called the 24-hour help line of the American Cancer Society, (800) ACS-2345. She was comforted by the person she spoke to on the phone and received a packet in the mail explaining her type of cancer. She attended the Look Good Feel Better classes and met other cancer patients. Wanda realized that by volunteering to assist others, she could help other cancer patients facing the same fears associated with this disease. Before long, Wanda received a call from the Carrolls, who headed up the first Relay For Life of Far East County in 2005.
Relay brings the community together and educates people about what the American Cancer Society offers. Wanda's experience has put her in touch with people like Michelle Anderson, a single mother and caretaker of a 13-year-old son diagnosed with cancer. Michelle, who lives in Auburn, was unable to work and was driving to Sacramento for her son's treatments, unaware of programs available in her local area until Wanda put her in touch with the local American Cancer Society office.
Relay is a community event dedicated to celebrating cancer survivors, raising awareness and raising funds for cancer research. Relay is organized by remarkable volunteers, people like Wanda Zimmerman, a cancer survivor making a difference in the lives of others. Since being diagnosed with cancer, Wanda has participated in several Relay For Life events as well as two half-marathon fundraising events for the Wellness Community in Walnut Creek.
Relay For Life is about hope. It's a fun community event. On behalf of the many volunteers who make this event possible, we want to encourage families to join us this weekend. Thanks to the generosity of far East County residents, more than $225,000 has been raised this year, including donations and in-kind donations from local businesses.
The entire community is invited to attend the Relay For Life of Far East County at Liberty High School from 10 a.m. on June 23 to 10 a.m. on the 24th. Enjoy music from local bands like DVC, Silent Partners, MPG, The Love Handles, Chosen, Anna Simon, Kacey Chadwick and the Jim Phelps Band. Getting hungry? Stop by the hospitality area and enjoy food donated by local restaurants.
While you're there, be sure to thank Wanda Zimmerman and her amazing crew of volunteers - just one of the many reasons Relay For Life is such a special experience.
- Contributed by Brett Morey