Why do you want to write about me? I'm nothing special.
Necco Therapist, Alyssa Fenner is something special. She is a non-stop worker. She gives her all to the kids and families that she serves every day. And she does it all while beating cancer.
I met with Alyssa and her co-worker, Kim Pulley. Kim had glowing remarks about Alyssa and spoke of her incredible dedication to kids and families. Alyssa was not comfortable with the focus being on her, so she would try to shift the attention from herself. However, Kim Pulley would put it right back on her. Kim made a point to say that if she, herself, received the same diagnosis, she would have curled up in a ball and pulled the covers over her head. After all, the news is devastating and the treatment is grueling. Alyssa just shook her head and said, “That wasn’t an option for me.”
Her team members would agree, Alyssa isn’t one to slow down. Ohio State Director, Greg Thompson said of her, “She is a hero. We should all strive to be as strong and selfless as she is. A person who has been through so much struggle and strife in her own life, but never stops to think of how rough things are for herself. She only thinks of how she can help improve other people’s lives. She needs to be a household name”.
It was nine short months ago that Alyssa’s own household was rocked. “It was September 17th, 2014 when I heard the 3 word sentence: You have cancer. I was in shock. I didn’t expect it to ever happen to me. I was scared”, Alyssa relayed. “Dana Adkins, Program Director and Russell Wittaker, Case Manager were right there with me when I got my diagnosis. They were the first people I told. I knew I had support from my team immediately because everyone was there. They were like ‘what do we need to do?’, and I was like ‘I don’t even know what to do myself’’.”
A month after her diagnosis, Alyssa had to have a double mastectomy. Greg Thompson recalls walking up on Alyssa having the conversation with Bev and Angie in the Human Resources department. “Tears were streaming down their faces. Alyssa grabbed them on their shoulders, and like the strong therapist she is, said “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be ok”.
As if that were not enough to break her spirit, she also faced months of chemotherapy and i.v. drug treatments. I asked her if the treatments were the worst part of living with cancer. She responded, “No. Actually, it was the sympathetic looks from people. I don’t want to be looked at as sick”, she reports. “I was always on the go, I had to work, I had to be somewhere, I had to do what I needed to do so I could help my families. It hurt me when I couldn’t do that like I used to.”
Alyssa quickly figured out that the only way she could stay strong was to do what she has always done, be there for everyone else. She dove right back into work, only taking 3 ½ weeks off after her initial surgery. She missed some days here and there but she worked late into the evenings or extra hours to compensate. “I didn’t want to feel like I was a burden on my teammates. I wanted to be there for them just as much as they were for me when I had to be out”, Alyssa reported. Alyssa seems to have a positive outlook on everything. Her last six months have been extremely trying, but she feels that she can take anything thrown her way at this point. Staying true to the Necco Corporate Culture, Alyssa is one who practices Execution on a daily basis. Each day, she gets up, goes to work, and serves the kids and families who need her. She is a stunning example of delivering results despite adversity. She humbles many.
Alyssa apologized for crying several times during the interview. “I’ve cried maybe 15 times total over this whole thing. It’s not because I am a super strong person. It’s because of all the love I have at my office. It makes me happy and it makes me feel cared about.”
October 7th marked the one-year anniversary of Alyssa’s double mastectomy and she is more than ready to put the cancer behind her. “I want people to see me as me. If I stop, I’ve let it defeat me. I can’t be any help to anybody that way. Whether I’m bald or have hair, I’m me.”