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Rutherford’s Eliannah Anderson is the prime example of resilience

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -To say Rutherford senior Eliannah Anderson has faced adversity in her life is an understatement.

“When I was in middle school, I was diagnosed with a heart murmur, and from there, I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with subaortic stenosis,” said Anderson

This tennis player certainly knows about obstacles.

“Then I had open heart surgery in middle school.”

She’s dealt with several.

“Sophomore year, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which is a type of cancer.”

Battling not only a serious heart condition, but cancer, Eliannah eventually had to put her tennis career on hold, since no immune system meant no school.

“I didn’t go to practices or anything like that because I was severely immunocompromised from chemotherapy.”

Then in 2018, Hurricane Michael hit.

“Maybe a month after I was diagnosed, and I had just had my very first treatment, the hurricane came through and destroyed everything, so I ended up moving.”

Michael uprooted Eliannah’s family from Panama City to Chipley.

She says the move felt isolating, but soon, things started looking up.

Eliannah beat her cancer.

“Finally, I didn’t have to worry about getting sick, and if I do get sick, then I go to the hospital. It was just like ‘I’m out here. We are just going to have fun.”

She rejoined the tennis team her junior year, and just like that she qualified for state.

“She was able to battle and beat it, and come back for her tennis season and competed even at the state level that time there, so it’s a drive and resiliency that I have not seen before,” said Rutherford tennis coach, DeShoan Olds.

Tennis partner Isabella Ceydeli says Eliannah’s story is an inspiration.

“it means that you should take nothing for granted in life,” said Ceydeli. “In everything you should push your hardest because one day, it can all just go, so that means a lot to me, especially as her partner.”

Coach Olds says Eliannah sets an example for all to see on and off the court.

“I just kind of see myself like everybody else. I might have had a couple setbacks, but it’s kind of neat to see that people think that of me.”

Next on her to-do list? Choose a college, perhaps the simplest of obstacles she’ll have to overcome.

Eliannah and Isabel won the doubles county championship last week, and will compete in districts next week.

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