Fighting cancer with attitude and knowledge
When Linda Smith was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, she was shocked.
"There was no history of breast cancer in my family and I just went in for a routine mammogram, so I was absolutely shocked with the diagnosis," said Smith, who owns A to Z Marketing in Punta Gorda and serves on the board of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce.
Smith believes stress played a big role in her cancer, as she had lost her mother in 1989 and was struggling with the loss. After losing her brother in 1996, she had a recurrence of cancer in 1998, and again in 2009.
"Hurricane Charley knocked all of us off our feet," said Smith of the stress she recalls from that time.
She believes keeping a positive attitude and the will to fight the disease were key to her recovery. Getting a second opinion is always a good idea, said Smith, as is finding out the newest available treatment for any particular type of cancer. "Medicine has come so far since my first diagnosis, and new strides are made every day," said Smith.
She also recommends the American Cancer Society as the go-to resource. Smith herself wasn't fully aware of all the society offers until she became involved with Relay for Life last year.
"They have classes, information and supplies, and can even help with your specific needs, such as if someone needs transportation," said Smith. "In the case of someone who is terminally ill, they'll send a hospice person to help. They really do a wonderful job."
Smith makes sure to get her annual mammograms and checkups and recommends that others do the same. She's also mindful of her lifestyle and environment.
"Cancer is so random; it really does strike anyone, with or without a family history," said Smith, adding that for her, staying positive and monitoring her health is the key.
For help or information, contact the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.