Changemaker June 2019
Anne Anderson (nee Wotowic)
Written and Submitted by Terri-Viola Wilson
A LIFE FULLY LIVED
There are people who go where life seems to lead them and then there are people who take control and create the life they believe they should be living. Anne Anderson was of the latter group. If you were lucky enough to meet her, you knew Anne was a determined, resilient woman for whom Home Hospice Association’s raison d’etre was the driving force that gave her a sense of purpose when she was dying of brain cancer.
Born in 1963 in Chicopee, Massachusetts, Anne graduated from her university, sum cum laude in Neurobiology. After graduating, she was elected into Sigma Xi which is a Scientific Research Honour Society of North America. This society elects to membership graduate students who have shown noteworthy achievement as original investigators in Science and is bestowed on individuals by their peers.
Working at a bank through her university years, Anne met Larry Anderson who became her husband and with whom she had three children: Melanie, now 28 years old; Kyle, 25 years old; and Anneliese, 24 years old. Due to her husband’s job transfers, the family moved to Georgia before landing in Toronto in 1996 where they have remained since. In 2001, the couple separated. After her husband passed away in 2007, Anne, who had been a stay-at-home wife and mother, was left to raise her three children, entirely dependent on her own income.
FROM STAY-AT-HOME TO FINANCIAL INDEPDENDENCE
It wasn’t easy to get back into the working world. Despite the odds, at age 38, Anne became an account representative, running events like the Toronto National Women’s Show which was launched in 2002 and is still going strong. That she helped break new ground isn’t surprising to those who knew her. Her daughter, Melanie, remembers that her mother, while always very busy, also took great care of her three children. Anne was a person of many passions. She loved to cook, and her perogies were very well known in family and friendship circles as the “hit” of any gatherings. She was a huge Science Fiction fan, a devoted “Trekkie”, and passionate about reading. A championship tennis player, she continued her physical fitness throughout her life through walking and hiking trails.
DIAGNOSIS AND HELPING OTHERS
When Anne was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in 2005, she not only underwent the treatment to help her live, but she continued to go to work to support her three children. She also persisted in her volunteer work at Aurora Pantry, helping to feed the less fortunate. Melanie remembers going to the Pantry with her mother, when she was young. “It was important to her to help people. And she always instilled in us, myself and my brother and sister, that you stick with your commitments.” Melanie goes on to explain, “And she really taught us that you stick with your first commitment. If something else comes along, you don’t back down on what you said you would do first.” It was around 2006 that Anne left the Catholic Church and became a member of a non-denominational congregation, Rock and River Church, continuing her spiritual devotion and very close relationship with her God. She was cancer-free.
CANCER RETURNS AND ANNE’S ZEALOUSNESS IS RENEWED
Then, in 2012, Anne was diagnosed with pneumonia and experienced this for six months. Then one day, when she had coughed so hard that she broke a rib, her doctors discovered that they had misdiagnosed her. Breast cancer had not only returned but had metastasized to her lungs and spine. She underwent chemotherapy again and it cleared her lungs but then the cancer metastasized to her ovaries and brain.
So at this point, most