Meet the Models: Bernadette Anderson

At 69 years old, Bernadette Anderson never felt healthier. Having just graduated from the Institute of Nutrition and prioritizing her own wellness, she felt the strongest she had in years. It’s why her stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis took her by complete surprise: “I was in shock, had a lot of fear and disbelief, but immediately I went into fight mode.” Treatment included surgery, chemo and radiation.

Getting through treatment, especially during a pandemic, had Bernadette relying on her faith. Both prayer and meditation were essential to her coping process, as well as the immense support from her four children, five grandchildren and wonderful husband: “the thought of having my family watch me suffer was the worst part for me, but my husband was my rock. He was caring, kind and patient all of the time. He told me I was beautiful when I was bald and had no eyelashes.”

Eventually, Bernadette notes a shift in her journey saying, “something strange happened and I started to feel lucky and blessed.” Indeed, one year after diagnosis, on her 70th birthday, she found out she would be a grandmother for the sixth time. Her grandchildren reinforced her fight to get healthy and strong.

Reflecting on her diagnosis and treatment, Bernadette feels blessed that she fought this when her children were self- sufficient adults. She notes, “I feel so bad for young women with young families facing this disease.” It’s her children and grandchildren who inspire her to advocate for better testing: “I want to advocate for women to be tested more often and in better ways, especially with dense breast tissue.”