WJHG News Director Donna Bell comments on Jessica Foster's fight against Breast Cancer

Monday is a day to celebrate here at NewsChannel 7! Jessica Foster is back to work as morning anchor after her battle with breast cancer. While her fight is by no means over, I have to marvel at Jessica’s courage throughout this ordeal. Getting a cancer diagnosis of any kind is more than hard, it’s life-changing. No two battles are the same. Jessica’s battle in particular has stirred me to the point where I feel the need to write down my thoughts.

When I hired Jessica to be our morning anchor earlier this year, I knew she was the perfect fit for our morning team. I knew Jessica through her work with the American Cancer Society. For years we have both volunteered many hours to this amazing organization because we truly believe we can made a difference in the fight against cancer. I always focused on Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, while Jessica headed up the Panama City Beach Relay for Life. I knew Jessica was a media professional, with a genuine love for our local community. She seemed a natural fit for our morning team. When she told us she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, it took us all by surprise. For me, hearing the news brought back a wave of anxiety. Knowing Jessica was going to have to go through a painful double mastectomy to give her the best chance of beating this reminded me of my mother’s battle. I remember what it was like when my own mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, when she had a double mastectomy, when she endured six years of chemotherapy and radiation. My mom died of breast cancer in 2013, and quite honestly, I will never get over it. As anyone who loses a loved one to cancer can attest, time makes the loss a little easier to endure, but it never erases the pain.

My mom would still be alive today if she had her mammogram sooner. Jessica kept up with her mammograms, and that is why she will be a cancer survivor. She caught it early. So early she is considered “cancer free” after having a double mastectomy, sparing her body the dramatic effects of chemo and radiation. Before my mom died, I promised her I would use her story to encourage other women to take care of themselves, and get their mammograms. She was proud that being in the media gave me the gift of reaching more people with this important message. Now, I marvel at the story of Jessica. Her diagnosis would be so different had she not had her mammogram. She knows it, and she has the courage to share her story, in hopes of reminding other women to take better care of themselves. Seeing Jessica back at the anchor desk Monday, just a few weeks after surgery, is nothing short of a miracle. She is one of the strongest people I know, and I am inspired at her positive spirit which indeed is getting her through a terrible diagnosis.

Each year, WJHG walks with pride in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and more importantly, we do countless stories on the battles local women go through with breast cancer. Monday, I have signed up our team once again for the walk which will take place on October 21. This year though, instead of calling it NewsChannel 7 Team Jane in memory of my mom, I have decided to call it NewChannel 7 Strong. We will walk for all local women and will hopefully inspire others to fight cancer with everything they have, empowered by learning through education, awareness, and stories from other women who have been there. I firmly believe one day there will be a cure for cancer, and I look forward to our annual Making Strides Walk, knowing one step at a time, we can and will make a difference.

-Donna Bell, News Director WJHG/WECP

This year we are proud to have WJHG Anchor Neysa Wilkins as Chair of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, which will be October 21 at 8 a.m. in Panama City Beach.

Kickoff for this year’s walk will be August 24 at the Grand Theater in Pier Park.

For information on joining or supporting our team, follow this link:

To find out how to create a team of your own, follow this link.