Andrea Sweeting is a mother and a grandmother – her family’s matriarch. She is also a sister and a friend – but she’s so much more than that having over the decades given of herself, not just to her immediate circle, but to thousands of people, even if in some instances, it was just a shoulder to lean on. And now this “giant” of a woman (even though she only stands at just over five feet with a slim build) needs your support after suffering a number of illnesses in just two months. Sweeting learnt she had congestive heart failure on August 2. Since her heart failure diagnosis, she has been hospitalized repeatedly with pneumonia, fluid buildup in her lungs, dehydration with a kidney infection and poor circulation; and on September 5, she suffered a stroke which left her paralyzed to the left side of her body.
Sweeting, 70, who has served as Sister Sister (Breast) Cancer Support Group president for 18 years, and is known as a “feet on the street” get-the-job-done kind of woman, has worked tirelessly to ensure that others receive the support, care, compassion, and at times financial assistance they need to fight and survive.
She is currently doing rehabilitation treatment in Tampa, Florida, with her daughter D’Andrea (Deedee) Cary and her son-in-law Andrew Cary.
“I ask for prayers, truthfully, because it’s only through God’s grace that I’m going to actually get out there and say all these things in public again,” said Sweeting yesterday after completing a physical therapy session which went well, and which has doctors giving her a positive prognosis.
“It’s been a journey, but I’m doing a whole lot better.”
Sweeting is now able to walk unassisted, but still has paralysis to her left hand. Her medical team is positive she will get feeling back in the hand because she does not have problems with her shoulder, or from her elbow down to the wrist.
“The physical therapist told me this morning [Monday] that my strength is coming back, my face is looking good and that I’m not twisted and drooped anymore, so I should keep exercising my mouth. They think everything’s coming back to normal,” she said.
And Sweeting, who will serve as a patron for this year’s fourth Remilda Rose Designs fashion show “Warriors, Conquerors, Survivors” to honor cancer survivors, scheduled for November 10 at the Atlantis, has a goal to work toward.
“I have to get well to get home for that,” she said.
This cancer survivor’s latest battle, coincidentally, is playing out during breast cancer awareness month and Sweeting said her doctors have told her that a combination of medications she’s been on over the years for her thyroid, pressure, and to fight cancer, were like a “pressure cooker” in her body and helped to contribute to her medical woes.
“From the beginning, they [doctors] were saying the chemotherapy. I took the strongest of the drug in those days, but he [the doctor] said that I should have had effects from this earlier in life – not 18 years later.”
This episode had led to another teachable moment for Sweeting.
“That’s another thing we need to educate our people on – I took [medication] for my thyroid from I was 25 years of age, and then had my thyroid taken out, then at the age of 40, I was on another pill for my pressure and so what they’re saying is that the combination of those drugs and to have been on them for so long, with the combination of chemotherapy, they feel, is part of what caused all of this. The whole concept is when we’re on medication for more than three years, we need to speak to our doctors about it. We have to let them know we’ve been on this drug – x, y, z – even though it’s working, could we try something else or do something else. They think that’s what the problem is. You can’t stay on one thing for too long, because eventually even if you’re not feeling the side effects of it, eventually it does something to the body.”
Sweeting battled and beat breast cancer and is now facing what her family says is the biggest challenge in her life’s journey, but they need assistance to help her emerge victorious once again, and to get back to 100 percent.
The only problem is, she does not have medical insurance.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account with the goal of raising $150,000 to help defray her medical expenses. Up to yesterday, the fund had $12,955 raised of its goal from 147 donors. Donations can also be made to Royal Bank of Canada, account number 7227705, branch number 05775, in the name of Terae Sweeting (granddaughter); or at the Dudley’s Cosmetics kiosk in the Marathon Mall.
Her family says there is a plan of action that can get Sweeting back on her feet in the weeks and months ahead, with all conditions and prayers being aligned. And that her prognosis is as positive as they are, but they say she needs financial help to make it possible.
They say their mother’s/grandmother’s work is far from done, but that they need help to ensure that she continues to spread the message and provide hope to many.
As for Sweeting’s recollection of the day she had her stroke, she recalled leaving the hospital after having the second of her lungs drained of fluid, having supper with her daughter Deedee, electricity going off at her home and her daughter encouraging her to go for a ride in the car to keep cool.
“I walked out of the house with my bedroom slippers on and everything and went into the car. It was a good thing I had on a pair of pajamas. Then, I heard my grandson talking to me – ‘Grammy, Grammy, what’s your name? Tell me your age.’ He asked me that about three times, and I said, ‘Trae why you keep asking me the same thing?’. He said, ‘Grammy, just talk – keep talking.’ And when I opened my eyes again we were in front of Doctors Hospital. I didn’t have any idea what was going on.”
As she works her way back to recovery, Sweeting says she has a lot of work to do and her therapists are encouraged by the progress she’s making, but she also says she can’t wait to return home to continue the work that she does.