Facing Fear with Confidence: Alumna is a Cancer Survivor with a Miracle Baby

Danielle (Glenn) Farris, ’05, is a survivor who remains relatively unfazed by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The former Blue Jays women’s basketball player endured grueling treatments for Stage 3 breast cancer before learning in 2019 she was expecting what is described as “a miracle baby.”

“The hormone therapy went on a brief hiatus when we learned of my pregnancy,” Farris explains, adding that as a result of her condition, pregnancy was not recommended or even deemed possible at the time.

The pause in hormone therapy followed a good prognosis after six grueling rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation treatments and a bilateral mastectomy for a disease that had spread to her lymph nodes by the time of its discovery in 2018.

And yet Farris maintained her characteristic upbeat attitude.

“I have always tried to be a very positive person who truly enjoys life,” Farris reflects, adding, “But there is no doubt that cancer made me realize that life is precious, and we are not invincible … I think my diagnosis made me love a little harder on those around me.”

Those around Farris today include her now 6-month-old daughter, Etta, who was born healthy and without complications on September 4, 2019. Her 4-year-old son, Oliver, and husband, Charley, round out the household.

The Farris family lives in Columbia, MO, which like much of the United States is under a shelter-in-place regulation as a result of the coronavirus scare.

Farris says her daily life today is a bit more chaotic since the pandemic, with the entire family at home — attempting to maintain normalcy — while she simultaneously continues her duties as a marketing manager with MidwayUSA Foundation. Not one to skip a beat, Farris managed to continue working full time during her cancer treatments and picked up where she left off just three months after giving birth to Etta.

In defining her successes, she lightly says, “I think all working moms would agree that the job of being a working mom is the real success.”

Despite her hectic schedule and busy family life, Farris found time recently to discuss her fond memories of Westminster, which include her love of the small campus that is in full bloom this time of year and time spent with her basketball teammates.

A marketing communications major, Farris says her favorite professor was Dr. Keith Hardemann and that the Historic Gymnasium earns her vote as the No. 1 spot on campus.

Today Farris remains cancer free and says to manage difficult times like the country currently is going through, she finds comfort in escaping to the family farm where she was raised and staying connected with her Westminster teammates on a weekly basis.

“I’ve talked to my Westminster friends every day since the pandemic, and we all take turns lifting the others up,” Farris says.

And finally, much like Winston Churchill’s famous wartime advice to “never surrender,” Farris recites her favorite line from a Robert Frost poem: “The only way out is through.”

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.