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Walking the road to recovery

Local woman has been cancer free for 40 years and is still going strong

by: SHELBY CASE/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Bob Zeigler of Prineville walks around the track at the Ward Rhoden Stadium on Saturday for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. As of about 11:15 a.m., Zeigler had completed 11 laps between both Friday and Saturday. Participants raised a little more than $50,000 to help fight cancer.

Karen Anderson considers herself extremely lucky and credits her family and her "walk with God" in helping keep her cancer free for almost 40 years.
   Now cancer-free for 37 years, she participated over the weekend in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at Ward Rhoden Stadium. This marks her fourth year to participate.
   Anderson, who has lived in Prineville since 1964, was diagnosed in 1968 with radical breast cancer.
   "They diagnosed me in January and I was in surgery that Friday," Anderson said. "Once they diagnosed me, I was in surgery immediately. Yeah, you don't mess around with cancer."
   Dr. Elon Woods of Prineville performed the surgery, successfully removing the cancer and Anderson said she has had no reoccurrence.
   She noted that she received no chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
   Taking a walk with God
   "I'm very, very lucky," Anderson said. "The Lord's been good to me. I've gone for periodic checkups and that's very, very important - is to have your follow-up checkups."
   She also pointed to the support of her family.
   "I had my family behind me 100 percent," she emphasized. "Yeah, my family was very supportive."
   Anderson worked as a cutoff saw operator at both the Coin Mill, which is now American Moulding, and Clear Pine until her retirement.
   Like others, she remains optimistic that a cure for cancer is at hand.
   "I believe there's a cure for cancer out there right now," she said. "I believe there will be a cure because we have so [many] preventives right now with all of the X-rays and screenings. And if something's not working right with your body, it will let you know. There (have) been so many steps made forward since the 1970s. Just the awareness."
   Her faith has also been helpful.
   "I'm a missionary Baptist and God has a big part in my life and my family's life," she said.
   The weather was pretty good Saturday at the Crook County High School stadium for walkers, entertainers and organizers.
   "My 4-year-old great-granddaughter and I walked 20 laps and my 8-year-old great-granddaughter and I walked 24," she said, referring to Karine Gagermeier, 8, and her sister Emily, 4. She felt great having them walk with her. "That's a wonderful thing to be able to participate. Those great-grandchildren keep us young."
   She also walked with her daughter Faith.
   "I think the Relay for Life is great," she said. "It keeps people active and participating."