Woman diagnosed with terminal cancer gets to live dream with ride-along with St. Paul police
ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A former nurse from Eagan who is battling terminal cancer got to live out one of her dreams by going on patrol with the St. Paul Police Department.
Doctors say Stephanie Anderson may only have a few months left to live, but she is making the most of her time. FOX 9 got the chance to ride along with her and officers as she went out.
Anderson has never been in a squad car before and, for her, that's a badge of honor. "I think it’s a good thing I've never been in trouble."
But now, she is living out a lifelong dream.
"It sounds hokey, but I have this unending gratitude for the cops," she says. "I think the cops do a job not many people are willing to do or would rather bitch about than do."
Four years ago, Anderson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that left her with tumors in her brain, spine and lungs. After several rounds of chemotherapy, doctors told her the treatments weren't working and that she probably only has six to 12 months to live.
Despite the grim diagnosis, Anderson sees a silver lining.
"If it wasn't for the cancer, I wouldn't have time to be sitting here doing these things. If it wasn't for the cancer, I wouldn't be able to be at home and helping take care of my grandbabies."
Last week, Anderson put a post on Facebook explaining her situation and asking for help to add a ridealong with police to her bucket list. Less than 48 hours later, she's riding shotgun with St. Paul Police Officer Te Yang to see what life is like on the other side of the thin blue line.
"I feel lucky," Officer Yang said. "It's an honor to be chosen to be part of her bucket list, to show her the city - show her the different parts she wants to see. I'm more than happy to take her along."
Their first stop was a visit to the Great Minnesota Get-Together to meet the officer who saw Anderson's post and helped make her dying wish a reality.
"It's kind of surreal because of her bucket list and because of the diagnosis,” said St. Paul Police Officer Eric Reetz. “But, it still feels good and I know she'll have that memory, and she's going to be able to tell it on. It makes me feel the world is a better place."
Anderson got an up-close look at the violence that officers deal with every day and experienced the adrenaline rush that comes with riding in a squad car with lights and sirens going.
"It was a blast, it was," she said. "I had a great time."
Anderson said knowing her days are numbered makes every moment more meaningful. And what better way is there to spend the time she has left than by making sure every second counts.
"I'll do it again. I'll definitely do it again. It was fun."
Anderson said at least one other police department has offered to take her on a ridealong as well, and a fire department has also asked if she wants to go for a ride on a fire engine.