Buddy Check 7: Petersen family - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Buddy Check 7: Petersen family

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WYOMING (KWWL) -- February's Buddy Check 7 is a very personal story involving someone many in eastern Iowa know by the sound of his voice.  For Andy Petersen, with WMT 600 Radio, breast cancer is a part of his family.  His mother, Laurie Peterson, lived for 15 years with the disease. 

For the first time, Andy talks about his family and battling the disease together.

"No doubt in my mind at all that there are angels among us," Andy Petersen said at his family's home in Wyoming.

Look around the Petersen house, you can't miss the more than 150 assorted angels.

"She was always looking out for everybody else," said Guy Petersen, Andy's father and Laurie's husband. "You cannot turn around and look anywhere in this house that it doesn't have an angel."

But every angel is a reminder of losing someone to breast cancer.

"First diagnosis was Dec. 7, of 1994 which happens to be my birthday," Guy said.

Guy and his wife Laurie were high school sweethearts.  Married in 1977, they moved to a farm near Wyoming where they raised two children, Andy and Jenny.

"She didn't' want anybody fussing over her. And so the thing that made Laurie so very special," said Guy Petersen.

After that first diagnosis, Laurie pushed through, and started collecting angels. Six years later, a re-diagnosis, followed by four more and years of chemo treatment.

"She just had an unwavering strength of spirit that just never ever, there's just no quit. She just kept fighting," Guy said.

But on Aug. 19, 2009, after 15 years of fighting, Laurie's battled with breast cancer ended.

"Her passing seemed very sudden. I got asked a number of times 'gosh we didn't know that she was that sick' and the reason for that was because she didn't want you to know," Andy said.

Nearly six months after her death, her family wants to share her fight to inspire others.

"Something that no one can ever take away from you after they're gone.  You're always gonna have the memories that you had with them," Jenny Petersen said.

"When she was diagnosed 15 years ago the survival rates for breast cancer aren't nearly what they are now and yet she beat the odds for 15 years," Andy said.

And that alone makes every angel in the Petersen house, a guardian.

"Even the way that mom lived while fighting the disease symbolized what an angel does," Andy said.

"I know that she's there all the time. And every time I look around and see an angel I know she's here," Guy said.

The Petersen's have a scholarship set up in Laurie's honor.  The first recipient will be a 2010 Midland High School Graduate.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires
Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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