A Devoted Mother’s Race To Leave A Legacy
And Why TIME Is Her Most Precious Commodity
September 2005 — This is a period of time that JoAnna Anderson will never forget. It was the day that, while 6 months pregnant with her second daughter, Reagan, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that was causing severe hypertension and kidney failure.
Her doctors warned that it was unlikely that she or her baby would survive the remaining pregnancy.
As terrifying as that was, at that very moment, JoAnna felt a fire light inside of her.
In her head, she immediately replayed her life up to that point, and knew that she had an important choice to make. This was, maybe, the most important choice of her life… let this autoimmune disease control the rest of her life or live her life in spite of it.
For JoAnna, it was an easy choice.
On February 24, 1978, JoAnna Anderson was born to her single mother in the small rural town of Madison, North Carolina, the last of 28 children.
With no running water, a wood stove for heat, and an opossum for a pet, the only one in JoAnna’s family who realized that they were financially “poor” was her mother. She worked in textile factories and cleaned houses to keep food on the table for JoAnna and the 7 siblings who still lived in the house.
Her mother worked a lot and, although they went for years without a car or running water, they made due by walking to town to get what they needed, “borrowing” water from nearby neighbors, and cutting down trees for wood to heat the house.
Though every day was a challenge for basic necessities, the abundance of love and good country fun ran rampant through JoAnna’s household. Life was adventurous and they barely realized that they were poor. The love and fun that they experienced far outweighed the lack of material things that their family possessed.
To JoAnna, life was great.
By 3rd grade, her family had upgraded their living arrangements to the “projects” where a basic necessity like running water felt like a luxury item.
Just like the day of JoAnna’s diagnosis, she always had a confidence and fire inside that far outweighed the circumstances surrounding her.
She was oblivious to her limitations, which is exactly what propelled her far beyond what anyone could have ever predicted.
Although only having an 8th grade education, JoAnna’s mother was able to work herself into a promotion, which allowed their family to move out of the projects.
JoAnna’s ability to flourish in any environment proved to be a great asset and put her in a position to attend college on a full, academic scholarship and graduate with honors. As with most college graduates…
“Life became challenging upon entering the real world.”
JoAnna had an infant daughter to care for and was figuring out how to navigate life, and all of its expenses, on her own.
Upon graduating from college, she earned a high-level management position at Perdue Farms. JoAnna excelled at her job, but it wasn’t long before she realized that she didn’t love what she was doing.
“Watching my mom work so hard, and only ever having male supervisors at the factories where she worked, I felt accomplished and that I was making her proud. I was really good at my job, running the different departments there, solving problems, and managing people. However, I wasn’t in love with my job. I knew something was missing. It didn’t provide the lifestyle that I had been dreaming of all these years.”
JoAnna was promoted and received a significant pay increase, which solved her financial limitations. But there was something much more important that she recognized she was missing… TIME.
Her new position required her to work inconsistent hours, which took her away from being able to spend quality time with her daughter. This was not an option for JoAnna. She left the new position and raise behind and moved on to what, at first, felt like her true calling — teaching.
Teaching biology brought so much joy to JoAnna. The pay for teaching biology did not. Nor did the requirements that the school put on her to “teach to a test” and their resistance to the type of change that JoAnna felt was necessary in an ever-evolving school system.
It was during this time, that she became pregnant with her second daughter and received the diagnosis of the autoimmune disease and kidney failure. This diagnosis would change the rest of her life. Now, more than ever, TIME became JoAnna’s biggest asset and none of it could be wasted. In fact, she didn’t know how much time she actually had at all. The doctor informed her that there was a great chance that both her and her unborn child would not survive the pregnancy.
“I was prepared to give my life for my unborn child to live.”
While pregnant, JoAnna’s kidney function dropped to 50%. The hope was that once she delivered her baby, and her body was free of the stress of pregnancy, that her kidney function would return and her symptoms would resolve themselves.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
JoAnna’s kidney function continued to drop, first to 50%, then to 35%, and then down to 27%. At that point she was prescribed medications typically given to transplant recipients. These medications kept her stable for nearly 11 years. Most recently, JoAnna’s kidney function has dropped to 18% and she has again been placed on the kidney transplant list.
As scary as JoAnna’s diagnosis was, it has been the catalyst that drove her to seek out the path that would allow her to live the rest of her life on her terms.
In 2012, she heard a radio ad for a real estate investing training event in her area. She attended and, it was at this event that JoAnna’s life started turning in the direction that she was happy with… where she felt in control of her very precious time.
JoAnna hadn’t come this far to let kidney failure take her before she was ready and she was determined to do everything in her power to build a legacy and a future for her children and family.
While still teaching full time, JoAnna made a year’s salary on her first real estate investing deal.
“The funny part was that in just 6 weeks, I had made the equivalent of an entire year of teaching!”
Her future immediately opened up and the legacy that she could leave behind for her family began to take shape.
Once she started building something real, JoAnna knew that she needed to use tools that would make building and growing her business easier… tools that would save TIME… her most precious commodity.
JoAnna’s business is a family affair with her daughters, mom, aunt, nieces, and nephews all contributing to the success of A Team Marketing, A Team Holdings, and Jodi Buys Houses… and every minute that they contribute to the business means so much.
“It is truly such a blessing to be able to share wealth building and entrepreneurial strategies with my family and create generational wealth.”
JoAnna says it’s especially exciting to know that she is leaving behind a legacy for her daughters and family that will change their lives forever and will always remind them of how hard their mother/aunt worked, even in the face of her autoimmune disease, kidney failure, and the likelihood of a shortened life.
“When I started on this journey, leaving a legacy quickly became very important to me… but, first, I had to figure out what that even meant to me…”
“To me, legacy means . . . the portion of you that remains even when you are no longer physically present. The legacy that I want to leave my family is education and a path to freedom.”
None of us know when our last day will be, but JoAnna knows that hers is likely to come before she’s ready.
“All she can do is continue the fight for her life and use her remaining time living life vibrantly and on purpose.”
She has continued in the education field by training & coaching other investors for just over 3 years now. As a result, JoAnna has been able to help others reap the benefits of investing in real estate, while also creating the lifestyle that she has always wanted for herself and her family.
“As a former and current educator, I have always believed that sharing what I know, and have learned, to induce hidden knowledge and ability within someone else that inspires them to achieve a goal or create a life that they want, IS a way for me to somewhat achieve immortality. The body is no longer present, but the lessons that I’ve taught and the inspiration that I’ve given remains and gets passed on through generations.”
JoAnna’s life is a true testimony to what can be accomplished when you remove your limitations.
Looking at her, you would have no idea that JoAnna is in Stage 4 renal failure and in the fight of her life. You would never know that she is in a race against time to accomplish everything on her list before her time is up. You would never know that everything that she does every single day is for the sole purpose of leaving a meaningful legacy behind for her family.
Truthfully, most of the time JoAnna forgets that she’s even sick. She lives her day-to-day life as any normal person would. She has no outward symptoms, but she still knows that her days are numbered.
And, if you ask JoAnna,
“Having a tool like Realeflow has really been invaluable to me… when you’re literally running out of time, having something that saves time, so not a minute of it is wasted, is like a Godsend.”
JoAnna’s doctor wants her to start dialysis and she has, again, been placed on the kidney transplant list.
At the time of writing this article, JoAnna refuses to start dialysis because it will change the way that she feels and will change her lifestyle. Once she starts, there’s no going back. Just like there’s nothing she can do to improve her kidney function or reverse the damage that has been done up to this point.
All she can do is continue the fight for her life and use her remaining time living life vibrantly and on purpose.
“‘If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ This is what I am doing and plan to continue to do for my family.”
Real estate investing gives her the freedom to live the rest of her life exactly how she wants to. She has the freedom to spend her remaining time with her children. She has the freedom to build the legacy that she wants to leave behind. She has the freedom to live.
JoAnna has chosen her legacy… what’s yours?