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Longtime Patient Learns to 'Dance With Cancer'

NORWALK, Conn. – Elizabeth April-Fritz is the most upbeat cancer patient you could ever want to meet. She says she has no choice. After her second of three cancer diagnoses, "I understood cancer would be part of my life," the Pound Ridge resident said. "I changed my attitude from dying from cancer to living with cancer to dancing with cancer."

That outlook has served her well during the past 13 years she has battled the disease, and has enabled her to enjoy seeing her two daughters grow from little kids to 16- and 21-year-old young women. And she has tried to make her attitude infectious, helping other patients deal with the challenges of cancer with the same positive approach that has helped her.

April-Fritz has been fighting her current case since 2002 with the help of Herceptin, which she called "a miracle drug." Every three weeks, "like clockwork," she goes to Norwalk Hospital's Whittingham Cancer Center for an intravenous dose of the drug, which she says "acts like PacMan – it goes after your body's estrogen receptors." Then, in what she describes as her "yin and yang treatment," she receives Reiki, a Japanese stress reduction technique.

"It really balances the Western drug therapy," she said. So great is April-Fritz' belief in the treatment that she's seen to it that new cancer patients get several free Reiki sessions through the hospital's Integrative Medicine Program when they begin their traditional treatment. In three years she's helped raise more than $25,000 toward integrative medicine treatment at Norwalk.

"Anything I can do to support the hospital, I'll do," said Fritz, who along with her daughters has been involved in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk and run.

"I couldn't be happier with the treatment I've received there," she continued. "My doctor, Richard Zelkowitz, is top shelf, and full of energy. He watches me like a hawk. I adore the staff here – they're a loving and caring group. Norwalk is really lucky to have a place like this."

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