By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Grace and strength: Deanna Ferreira
Mommy Musings 4-10-24

Some things just hit a little harder than others. Even when we know certain things are inevitable, the sting of the reality hits you straight in the gut.

That’s how I felt last Saturday morning, as I learned of the passing of Deanna Ferreira (also known as Deanna Pettit).

Deanna and I oddly enough both came to know one another over two decades ago through Oakdale’s Relay For Life event, an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Both proudly members of the OG (original gang) relay efforts, neither she nor I had cancer when we first met.

Bubbly, friendly, petite and spunky, that’s who Deanna was to me. As a longtime volunteer of the event, there was a team of us “back in the day,” that made some pretty big stuff happen yet somehow like an old cowboy hat resting in the corner, so too are those memories.

Years after the Oakdale event started, Deanna herself would be diagnosed with cancer.

I still remember hearing that news and the punch to the gut I felt as I wondered, how and why? As volunteers of the American Cancer Society, we would often share when speaking publicly that “cancer doesn’t discriminate, it affects everyone” and it does.

But cancer didn’t get the glory of taking Deanna’s life. A true fighter and woman of grace, after a long, hard-fought battle spanning over too many years to count, barely two years ago, sweet Deanna was finally able to say the words, “Cancer Free.”

But the disease of cancer and the treatments succumbed to, to stay here have long lasting effects on the body. Some might say those effects made her final battle with a separate illness that much harder; honestly I have no idea.

What I do know is that when I myself was diagnosed with cancer, Deanna was one of the first that I thought of. Frightened beyond comprehension, I thought of her. I thought of the way she overcame so many hurdles. I thought of the way she navigated the uncertainty with grace and strength, always with a smile, never with a tear.

Deanna wasn’t one to sit around and talk about her diagnosis, “I’m good” or “Doing great!” were common responses when asked how she was.

In short, anyone looking for a pity party wouldn’t find it at the feet of sweet Deanna Ferreira. It’s just not what she did.

I still recall first seeing her out and about shortly after learning I too was now a member of this not so fun club. There simply weren’t words. A strong look in one another’s eyes and a strong hug, as she whispered “you’ll beat this.”

Over the course of time as we both did our separate survival dances, we’d often tell one another how we were inspired by each other. I’m humbled as I type that, because as I often told her I just couldn’t see myself at that same table.

This woman had no quit in her. As the years passed, her fight continued and new treatments were thrown her way, she continued to show up.

Deanna Ferreira was a fighter defined. She was fearless and she was brave.

As a survivor, I know all too well there were weak moments, times of confusion and moments of pure exhaustion; it happens. But Deanna, well, she made her rounds on the good days. Always pulled together, always at the ready to share some jokes and have a good laugh, she was indeed one of a kind.

As I watch the blinking cursor to share these words, I recognize I could very easily begin rambling. That’s what happens when you lose someone you’re not yet ready to let go of. Someone you know made the world a better place just by simply being on it.

Deanna Ferreira was the type of person that if you heard someone speak ill of her it said more about that person than it did about her. She was just that good and that loved.

So now we say our “til next times.” We take peace in knowing she’s no longer in pain and we sit in awe of the strength that she had.

I feel blessed to have known and shared a special bond with this angel. She truly was an angel on earth and now she’s been set free to fly.

Just prior to working up the strength to pen this I spoke with her beautiful momma Lynn. As Lynn and I spoke we worked out a few things, while I am a friend I am also the newspaper girl and happily so.

As deadlines are a thing in this business, her obituary will not be seen in this week’s pages. While details are still being worked out, her Rosary will be the evening of Thursday, April 18 and Mass will be Friday, April 19 at Saint Mary’s Church, Oakdale. Specific details of her services will appear in our April 17 issue.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.