Homeownership Tips & Tales

Fighting the Good Fight: Denise Henderson, Breast Cancer Survivor

inside neighborworks, affordable housing, breast cancer awareness month, breast cancer survivor, financial counseling, achieving the american dreamBreast Cancer Awareness month hits close to home for NeighborWorks Columbus employees.

That’s because in just the last year they watched one of their own conquer the illness.

Denise Henderson, Mortgage Housing Counselor, began working for NeighborWorks® Columbus about a year ago. Shortly after, she began chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer but never missed a day of work through any of it.

“I have very strong faith in God. I attribute my wellness to my faith in God and his healing power,” she said. 

In fact, Denise is doing so well now that one of the consulting doctors mistakenly thought she had the tumor surgically removed.

In addition to her steadfast faith, Denise found herself with a plethora of support throughout her illness, from her coworkers to family to her church members.

“All of the team at NeighborWorks® Columbus was very supportive. They told me from the beginning, ‘If you have a bad day, let us know if there is “anything” we can do for you,’” she said. From tasks as simple as retrieving her things from the printer to picking up her lunch, her coworkers were ready to do anything they could to help ease the load.

“The department is led by Melanie Faison, a committed Christian who prayed much for me. I praise God that even though they offered much, I didn’t have to accept all the things they offered,” she said.

Between her blood family and her church family, Denise said she never had to go through chemotherapy alone.

Her son, Terrance Oliver, stayed with her every night at the hospital and was her personal chauffeur, even after she was given the OK to drive. Her nieces Phyllis Minter and LaTonya Smith along with her daughter TerriLynn (who was in the middle of high risk pregnancy in Atlanta) were a strong support system. Likewise her sisters, brother, primary care physician, surgeon, and oncologist were just what she needed.

Before coming to NeighborWorks®, Denise worked in banking, first in Germany, then in Columbus, ending her career there as Vice President. Though she should “probably just truly retire” Denise said she decided she just likes working and helping others. She said she works at her church, Spirit Filled Ministries, in many capacities including Sunday school teacher and Financial Counselor.

At NeighborWorks® particularly, Denise finds great joy in helping clients achieve homeownership.

“I like working here because our clients might not otherwise have the opportunity to buy a house. I like helping people make their dreams come true,” she said. 

Though a breast cancer survivor herself, the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, has always had special meaning to her because her mother is a survivor. And just months after Denise was diagnosed with breast cancer, two of her sisters were as well and even though they all took different approaches to their treatment they are now also in remission. 

For anyone who may be experiencing the illness, Denise offers some advice.

“I would tell (anyone diagnosed with breast cancer or any serious illness), it is not necessarily a diagnosis of death, so don’t be fearful. A strong faith in God is essential. Trust of your doctors is important,” she said. She also adds the importance of a change in lifestyle—eating a good healthy diet (vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains only with lots of water is best), resting, and getting fresh air and sunshine.

Denise is from Columbus and has lived here most of her life except for the years her husband was military.

Tags: inside neighborworks, give back, affordable housing, giving back to your community, achieving results, down payment assistance programs in Georgia, steps to owning a home, first time homebuyers, achieving the american dream, make a difference to the world, strategic vision, breast cancer awareness month, breast cancer survivor, community building, financial counseling