‘It doesn’t play fair’: Carrie Anderson, former Channel 5 sports reporter, continues fight with breast cancer


Carrie Anderson, a former sports reporter with Action News 5 television station is battling stage four metastatic cancer, that spread from her breast to her liver. Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal

Carrie Anderson walked out of the FedEx offices, paused to take in the picture-perfect January day, and was struck by a particularly upbeat thought.

“I thought, ‘I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,’” she said. “It was a pretty day, blue skies, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was perfect weather, one of those days that you don’t get in Memphis very often.”

Anderson had recently given up her position as a sports reporter at Channel 5 for a communications gig at FedEx. After 16 years of working nights, weekends, and holidays, she was building a different, more balanced life.

“I thought, ‘For the first time in a long time I have a social life,’” she said. “I thought, ‘This is good, life is good.’ And then, a week later, I was sitting in a doctor’s office being told I have cancer.

“I was ticked off.”

“It doesn’t play fair”

Which is the first thing Anderson would like you to know about breast cancer, on the eve of the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“It’s a b——,” said Anderson, 43. “It doesn’t play fair. I supposedly had the good kind of cancer. I had no history in my family. I thought, `What the hell?’”

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All the pink ribbons and the public displays of support can be deceptive, in a certain way. Breast cancer is so familiar, such a part of our lives, it almost feels domesticated.

But in the United States alone 40,170 women are expected to die of breast cancer in 2017. One in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. Eighty-five percent of those women will have had no family history of the disease.

“Nobody in my family had ever had breast cancer,” said Anderson. “My mother once had a biopsy and it turned out to be nothing. She told me, `We grow cysts.’”

That is the thought Anderson comforted herself with after a January mammogram showed an irregularity. It would be a cyst. Of course it would be a cyst.

“I was out with colleagues from work when I got the call,” Anderson said. “The nurse from the surgeon’s office said it was cancer. That’s really where it began.”

“When I put my mind to it, I can do anything”

And here I should tell you something about Anderson: She is as feisty and funny and flat-out determined as they come.

She pretty much had to be, to make it as a woman in the world of sports journalism, to spend 16 years covering John Daly and John Calipari and Tony Allen and Z-Bo.

Anderson is five-foot, even. Most of that is heart, grit and…