Anne Elferdink, a member of Celebrate Life, was born in Alabama and now resides in Punta Gorda.
When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 67.
What kind of treatment did you receive?
I have had three different chemotherapies. The red devil was the worst. It’s Adriamycin, but people call it “the red devil” because it’s a really bad form of chemo, the side effects are horrible.
I received 35 treatments of radiation locally and 35 treatments in Jacksonville at Ackerman Cancer Center. Dr. Ackerman uses proton beam radiation therapy. The beam reduces the severity of short- and long-term side effects on surrounding healthy tissue and organs.
Did you face any obstacles? If so, how did you overcome them?
There were some obstacles along the way. I believe the hardest was hearing that I had cancer. I remember cleaning. That was the only thing I could control.
After that, I found a surgeon and then an oncologist. By the way, that was backwards. Always start with an oncologist first if cancer is suspected.
What was the most challenging part?
My biggest challenge now is to try to forget about cancer and carry on. Every ache is not cancer, but you cannot prove that to me in the middle of the night.
Where did you find the biggest support?
Dr. Mark Rubin, my oncologist, has encouraged me to do the things I love and stop worrying. My family and dear friends have been wonderful throughout these last five years. It was wonderful knowing that they were praying for me.
I also joined the Celebrate Life group. I found sitting in a room with survivors and sharing stories helped.
How has the experience affected your relationships with family and friends?
I watched my Mother fight and survive cancer, too.
What advice would you share with others?
My advice to anyone who is going through cancer is to fight like heck and buy the prettiest wig you can find.