2017-10-29 / Insight

Cancer survivor now huge supporter of Relay for Life

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Annette Ferritt and co-worker Kathi Simmonds go over some materials at Professional Software Associates. Ferritt said support from co-workers, family and Relay for life teammates played a big part in her recovery. 
Photo by Phil Foley Annette Ferritt and co-worker Kathi Simmonds go over some materials at Professional Software Associates. Ferritt said support from co-workers, family and Relay for life teammates played a big part in her recovery. Photo by Phil Foley LAPEER TWP. — At age 49 Annette Ferritt thought she had another year before she had to start getting regular mammograms and then she found a lump.

She’d been participating in Relay for Life, a breast cancer walk held every June at the Eastern Michigan State Fairgrounds in Imlay City, for a decade, but breast cancer was something that happened to other people.

Finding a lump last April changed everything. “I was hoping it wasn’t, but I was prepared, if it was.”

Ferritt, who grew up a Wiengartz, had a fair amount of cancer in her family. Her dad, she said, had prostate cancer, but there was no history of breast cancer.


Annette Ferritt said she was shocked to learn she had breast cancer last spring, but she’s been cancer free since surgery along with chemo and radiation treatments last fall. 
Photo by Phil Foley Annette Ferritt said she was shocked to learn she had breast cancer last spring, but she’s been cancer free since surgery along with chemo and radiation treatments last fall. Photo by Phil Foley “You feel like you’re invincible and then all of a sudden…” she said, her voice trailing off.

She said she just fell back on her farm upbringing and decided to just push through it. “I made it look pretty easy,” she said. “I first went through 16 rounds of chemo, first. I worked through it all,” She said. “Then I had a lumpectomy surgery in October and I went through 33 rounds of radiation.”

Ferritt has been the office manager at Professional Software Associates (PSA) in Lapeer Township for the past four years. The company, which produces industrial software, has offices in Lapeer Township, Florida and Belarus.

She lives on a farm in Lynn Township, east of Goodland Township in St. Clair County.

Through her treatment, she never slowed down.

“Usually my treatments were Wednesday, I’d be back here Thursday and Friday,” she said.

Ferritt said, “Once I knew found out I was going to have to have chemo, I just said it’s not going to get me. It won’t bring me down,” she recalled. “I mean it did. By Friday night I was tired. And Saturday mornings I told my husband that I can’t make it through the grocery store by myself and he’d have to come with me and he did.”

She said a big part of her recovery was a strong support network from her husband, to her family, to Relay for Life team members and Kathi Simmonds, the finance director at PSA.

“She was great, whatever I needed she was there,” Ferritt said.

“The toughest part for me,” she said, “was once I was diagnosed, but still going through the testing and everything and not knowing the game plan. Once doctors determined the game plan, I was, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

Ferritt had her surgery in Port Huron on Oct. 24, 2016 and on her one-year checkup found she was cancer free. “I’m cured,” she said.

Ferritt got involved with Relay for Life 10 years ago when she was working for Imlay City Community Schools. She said yes when they came around looking for team members at Borland Elementary, but she got hooked two years later when she went to the luminary ceremony. “It was so emotional,” she recalled.

Four years ago she and a cousin formed the Weingartz Warriors, a team honoring all the family members who’ve been touched by the illness.

“Last year we came in second place for fund raising and in 2014 we came in first,” she said.

Having faced it herself, Ferritt said she feels energized to do more. “I feel that it’s very important to raise the funds to figure out the cure,” she said, “I don’t want my daughters or granddaughters to fear if they ever get cancer and hear those words. For a moment your life just stops.”

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