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Anita Smith: Three-Time Cancer Survivor finds Positive Outlook after Challenging Years

Anita Smith

“There’s no time like the present to take care of yourself. Life just gives you all kinds of surprises,” Anita said. “Some days are better than others.”

Anita Smith
Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Lung Cancer

Breast, lung, and colon cancer are among the most common cancers in the U.S. Anita Smith has had all three. She has also overcome other major life challenges, including long-term care for her diabetic husband, who died of COVID-19, and more recently, taking on care for her mother. Through all of it, Anita has focused on the positive while learning to prioritize her own healthcare needs.

“There’s no time like the present to take care of yourself. Life just gives you all kinds of surprises,” Anita said. “Some days are better than others.”

Just the Beginning

As the primary caretaker for her husband, whose diabetes resulted in a leg amputation in 2019, Anita persevered, even when she didn’t feel well herself. Her husband passed away from COVID-19 in November 2020.

“I had gotten kind of sick there towards the end. I originally thought it was just stress and doing everything I had to do for him,” Anita said. “Then I got weak and started passing out all the time and decided it was time to see the doctor.”

Anita was diagnosed with colon cancer after undergoing a colonoscopy, but this was only the beginning. She felt overwhelmed by her diagnosis and the realization that she had put her personal health to the side for too long.

In May 2021, Ted Voloyiannis, M.D., FACS, FASCRS, at Texas Colon & Rectal Specialists-Webster performed surgery on Anita to remove the cancer. Thinking her cancer days were over, Anita returned to the doctor six months later for a routine mammogram. The mammogram led to further testing and a biopsy. She was then diagnosed with breast cancer. Anita never could have imagined being diagnosed with cancer twice in one year.

“I was shocked, but I had a feeling,” Anita said. “I had noticed a small knot in my breast, and I thought ‘oh, that’s nothing’.”

In January 2022, Jennifer R. Sasaki, M.D., M.S., at Texas Breast Specialists-Webster performed a lumpectomy on Anita.

“Anita’s outlook, amidst what she was dealing with, was good and she did very well,” says Dr. Sasaki. “Her case is a good example of how important early detection is. It’s important to educate yourself and know what your breast feels like, to know what’s normal for you.”

At a follow-up appointment for her breast cancer, a CT scan revealed a spot on her lung. Another cancer diagnosis. Adenocarcinoma.

“Talk about a tough couple of years,” Anita said.

She was referred to Melissa L. Korb, M.D., at Texas Oncology Surgical Specialists-Deke Slayton Cancer Center. Her lung cancer was removed in May 2022.

“Throughout Anita’s journey, she always maintained a positive attitude and kept looking forward. Instead of staying upset and dwelling on the negative, she turned her energy toward recovery and healing,” Dr. Korb said. “It’s important for patients to remember that their mindset plays an important role as well.”

Starting Over

One year. Three cancer diagnoses. A fresh outlook on life.

Each cancer diagnosis came as a shock to Anita, but she has learned to take care of herself, and she is grateful to her doctors for their care.

“You get so busy taking care of everyone else you just put it off. When you start feeling sick you think ‘well I don’t feel real good today but that’s normal because I am just tired.’ Now I pay way more attention to myself.”

Anita is now a caregiver once again since her mother moved in with her. The care of her mom will always be her priority, but one thing will be extra important this time. Herself.

“I am determined now more than ever to take care of me. I am the only one that can take care of myself.”

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.