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You Don't Have to Fight Alone: A Cancer Patient Story

Cancer Care
Author name: Lee Health

Posted:

Anetria portrait

“I'm not going to die. I'm going to fight to live because I have a job I love and a family that loves me,” Anetria Hogue told herself. 

Anetria, 51, had been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in September of 2022. For any patient, receiving this type of news can be life-altering, but she’s faced her diagnosis and treatment fearlessly.

Point in fact: when Dr. Janine Harewood, a board-certified oncologist and hematologist with the Lee Health Cancer Institute, said she’d need chemotherapy treatment, Anetria replied without hesitation: “Okay, when do we start?” 

Anetria works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, in its pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Her experience as a healthcare provider and as a patient has given her a deeper appreciation of “both sides of the hospital bed,” but especially for the unique journey of patients like herself begin when first diagnosed with a disease like cancer.

She considers herself blessed because her familiarity with Lee Health and its expert resources for treating and managing all types of healthcare challenges, especially cancer. She wants to get the word out to people in Southwest Florida that world-class healthcare is local, close to home. 

“Taking care of young patients and being one are two totally separate things. But being a patient here, I never had a doubt about my cancer care,” Anetria says. “I’ve always known I’ve had the best care plan for me and the right people on my cancer team.”

The Lee Health Cancer Institute boasts the latest technology, clinical trials, advanced surgical techniques, support services, and personalized care plans that empower patients like Anetria to make treatment decisions that improve their outcomes. 

“The Institute continues to offer me everything I’ve needed to make the best decisions about the care and treatment that’s personalized and right for me. Every member of my cancer team has been with me every step of the way,” Anetria says.

In September, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Cancer Clinic at the Bonita Health Center opened in southern Lee County and Collier County, providing residents and visitors convenient access to world-class cancer care. 

Getting the care patients need where they live can make all the difference—as Anetria has experienced. She lives in Naples. Many patients like her often experience the side effects of chemotherapy, which can make long periods of travel especially debilitating.

“I had eight-hour days during my chemo treatments,” Anetria recalls. “So, when I found out that it was only a 20-minute drive from my home to get the treatments, I was ecstatic.” 

Anetria was the first patient to receive chemotherapy Lee Health’s Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Cancer Clinic. 

“Coming to this Institute and knowing that I’d be safe, cared for and respected was so important to me,” Anetria says.  “I think many people realize that getting cancer can take away a lot of your dignity. You feel so vulnerable, you know? But this facility’s not just beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, too, where it matters most. The comprehensive approach to personalized care from all these experts who made me feel like family made a huge difference.” 

Anetria finished chemotherapy in November. She firmly believes that her ongoing support and care, along with her faith, will carry her to that day soon when she’ll “ring the bell,” a melodious milestone that she’s cancer free and a sound of hope to other patients at the Institute. 

“I didn’t need to go anywhere else. I never had a doubt,” she says with the same conviction heard in her declaration that that she would fight to live. “I knew this was my place.”

The best cancer care in Southwest Florida is local

Lee Health Cancer Institute is Southwest Florida’s region’s only accredited comprehensive cancer center. Our nationally recognized center offers care and treatment for nearly every aspect of cancer care under one roof. The center’s national survivorship rates exceed national averages.

The Lee Health Cancer Institute holds nationally recognized accreditations from the Commission on Cancer (CoC), the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), the National Pancreas Foundation and the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer.

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