Altru Moment: Reclaiming the True Sheri

Sheri Anderson has lived in Roseau, Minn., her entire life. She’s full of energy, owns the local movie theater and works at Polaris Industries.

Today, you’d never know she had breast cancer just one year ago.

Sheri was diagnosed in May 2011. She met with Dr. Robin Hape to discuss her options. Sheri knew she wanted to undergo breast reconstruction. Per Dr. Hape’s recommendation, she met with Dr. Brad Meland at Truyu Aesthetic Center to discuss reconstruction options.

One Surgery, Two Procedures
“I elected to go with the double mastectomy and the complete reconstruction,” explained Sheri. “Since my cancer was in the early stage, I was able to do reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy.”

The double mastectomy and reconstruction was a team effort. Dr. Hape did the removal, and Dr. Meland did the reconstruction.

“Through a coordinated effort of the breast center, general surgeons, radiologists, plastic surgeons and oncologists, we were able to quickly grant Sheri’s wish of having bilateral mastectomies with immediate reconstruction,” said Dr. Hape. “It’s rewarding when patients have such great medical and cosmetic outcomes as Sheri.”

Happy, Helpful, Honest Nurses
While she was able to do some of her chemotherapy treatments in Roseau, Sheri traveled to and from Grand Forks about 30 times in six months. She raved about her oncology nurses at both locations. “They are great resources for anyone going through any type of cancer,” she said. “They have so much information and are so caring. One of the nurses had personally been through breast cancer and helped me to better understand what was coming next.” For example, the nurse told Sheri ahead of time that her eyelashes and eyebrows would fall out at the next treatment. That way, Sheri could buy makeup in advance and be prepared for what was about to happen.

She also met with Dr. Meland at Truyu about once every two weeks to have her expanders filled with saline solution. “That process took about four to five months to get them to the right size,” said Sheri.

Once the size was correct, Sheri had to wait a few months for her skin to stretch. In December 2011, Dr. Meland placed the implants.

Sheri praised the Truyu nurses for their help throughout the healing process. “They actually help you with the situation,” she said. “Some days I was so depressed, but they were so upbeat and friendly.”

Reconstruction isn’t the only service Sheri has had at Truyu. After surgery and recovery, she treated herself to a HydraFacial with aesthetician Georgia Holmen. “I’ve done two so far,” said Sheri. “A coworker, who didn’t know I had the treatments, said my skin looked awesome. The HydraFacial leaves my skin bright and cheery and just wonderful.”

Journey Back to Normal
Reflecting on her cancer journey, Sheri remembers the “Oh my gosh, I’m going to die” feeling she experienced immediately after diagnosis. “I was getting ready to make a will and do the bucket list,” she said. But with the hope and encouragement she received from providers and staff at Altru and Truyu, Sheri realized help was available and she could make it through.

Today, Sheri still lives in Roseau. She and her husband still own the local movie theater. She’s still working hard and full of spunk. Life is back to normal. Except now, she’s a cancer survivor.

See Sheri tell her story:

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you or someone in your life been affected by breast cancer? What helped you get through the difficult times? Please share your story in a comment

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