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Woman's "survivor sacks" inspire those still fighting cancer

Anne Coletti won her cancer fight. Now she's helping others with their struggles.

Anne Coletti could have cried until she died. It’s the natural pattern for many cancer patients.

She did cry but then decided to fight back with her pen.

Coletti started writing. The Clearwater woman wanted to get all her frustrations out on paper. She wrote down three things per day for which she felt thankful.

“I was thankful for Carol for putting in my needle into my port and for Alice for doing my chemo,” she said, reading a post from April 6, 2016. “I am thankful that I’m alive and even though I’m not feeling the best right now, I’m feeling. That means I am alive and ready for more.”

She was officially diagnosed on Nov. 2, 2015. Anne endured five months of chemotherapy treatments at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater while working as a full-time teacher and taking courses to earn her doctorate.

She defeated the disease and declare cancer-free in May 2016. Free from the breast cancer that once threatened her life, she decided to pass out those letters to men and women facing the same battle she conquered.

The letters are included in what she calls a “survivor sack”. They are given to patients when they begin their first cancer treatment. The bags include socks, lip balm, a pen, a crossword puzzle, a journal, a small blanket and hand sanitizer. She also included a letter to encourage those who were starting treatment.

Patients at Morton Plant Hospital have received the 85 bags Coletti originally created, but the hospital has assembled additional bags and continues to include her inspiring letter.

“I feel like I’ve been given a second chance,” Coletti said from Morton Plant on Friday.

Coletti will celebrate life and beating cancer by walking with other breast cancer survivors during Pitch for Pink at 6 p.m. today at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. Pitch for Pink is an annual event to raise awareness of the importance of early detection and to raise funds to help support the breast health services and programs at Morton Plant Mease. It is co-sponsored by the Clearwater Threshers and the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation.

She hopes the bags and her letters help inspire others to fight for life and not give in to cancer. The bags are filled through donations. Morton Plant Hospital asks that people interested in donating contact Deb Hannah directly at (727) 462-2128.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take,” Anne said.

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