Name: Angie Currier
Diagnosed At Age: 43
Status: Stage 4 Metastatic breast cancer in liver and spine
My story: In 2008, I missed my mammogram (although my doctor says my tumor grew so fast that it probably wasn’t even there when I was scheduled for my 2008 mammogram). In January 2009, I noticed a sensitive lump in my left breast. I immediately went in for a mammogram only to find that there was a suspicious spot on my left side. I needed to have a biopsy taken of the spot and discovered that it was, in fact, cancerous. I took a few days to soak in the information myself before telling my family. In February, I had a double mastectomy. They opened me up and found that the tumor had nearly doubled in size and had spread to 11 lymph nodes. I stayed for two nights in the hospital and came home to tons of love and food and prayers from my family and friends and friends of friends. My daughters, husband, son, and parents were my nurses (and still are!) and helped me recover. In March 2009, I received eight doses of chemo over a 16-week time frame. Soon after, my hair disappeared and all of the other awful side effects of chemo kicked in (many that most don’t even know about). In August, I started my 30 days of radiation treatment. That was a solid month of the worst raw sunburn you could ever imagine! In November 2009, my doctors informed me that there was no more evidence of disease. I started taking a chemo pill that I was scheduled to take for five years. My curly hair came back, my burns were gone, and my scars were healed. From April to September of 2012, my tumor marker began to rise. In September 2012, I officially came out of remission and discovered that I now have tumors in my liver and spine. My doctor came up with a plan to take a hormonal therapy. That treatment quickly stopped working, however my doctor insisted we stick with it. After months of my friend begging me to come up to The James Cancer Care Center at Ohio State University, I finally decided to transfer. I now make a weekly four-hour round trip to the Stephanie Speilmann Comprehensive Breast Center (a part of The James). After four different hormonal treatments throughout the past three years, Dr. Lustburg decided to move me onto another round of chemotherapy. Since coming up to Columbus, I’ve been so lucky to be exposed to numerous clinical trials. I am bald again but still feeling strong! I have completed six weeks of chemo and am now awaiting the results of my scans to see how it is working! Originally, I planned on having reconstruction done. Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t mind being a flat chested lady, and I’m not too fond of getting cut into over something cosmetic. I am totally comfortable having two scars instead of two breasts. Plus, my scars help tell my story. I am able to make jokes about myself being a bald, flat-chested woman, and I feel more confident than most perfect hair, full-chested women do!
My reaction when I was first diagnosed: My first reaction after my diagnosis was shock. I never imagined how extreme my case would be and that it would come back after being gone. I started planning how I would be able to go right back to work. I went from working at least 60 hours a week for 23 years to not working at all. Very difficult transition, but I am very happy being able to be home with my family!
How I’m feeling now: Hopeful. Confident. I’m not at all sure where I’m headed in life, but I am positively sure that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. There are some days when I wish I could just wake up to realize that all of this “cancer junk” was just a bad dream. But, I know God has a bigger plan for me than I have for myself. At the moment, I’m feeling strong.
My inspirations: My support system inspires me. My God inspires me. My doctors and nurse inspire me. Everything beautiful and good in this world inspires me!
My support system: My mom, Edith, and dad, Tom, (recently deceased) have always lived within 10 minutes of me. They have always helped out with anything and everything I could ever need or want, especially with my kids! My husband, Pat, is my best friend and is always willing to drop whatever it is that he’s doing to be there for me. He’s my calm in every storm. My daughter Sarah, 20, drives me to my weekly appointments in Columbus and cooks me super healthy meals to fight off the nasty cancer cells! My daughter Kelly, 22, helps keep the house tidy and in order and looks after my little 14-year-old baby, Tommy. Tommy is my little ball of strength, always there to make jokes and keep me smiling. All of my kids inspire me to keep fighting! None of these special people treat me like a cancer patient, but instead treat me like a person! My wonderful team of nurses and doctors at The James is the most supportive group of medical professionals I’ve ever met. The most important person in my support system is God. He has never left my side and is there for me no matter the time or place. Ainsley Elizabeth Keyes (the 8-year-old my daughter Sarah nannies for) also inspires me and is definitely a member of my support system. She is a little ball of sunshine in my life and always brings me smiles! Her sense of humor blows life into all around her.
I’m proud of: I’m most proud of my kids and their attitudes towards this challenge we’ve been dealt. I’m also proud of myself and my ability to keep fighting!
I’m afraid of: I am not afraid of cancer, and I am not afraid of dying. That is for sure!
I’ve learned: I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. I’ve also learned that everyone has a story (mine happens to be pink). I’ve learned that there are some things in life that we just cannot control!
My advice to new patients: Take one day at a time. Write things down. Take someone with you to appointments because sometimes they give you more news and information than one single person can comprehend or handle by themselves! A saying that has always stuck with me is “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” And I really really really love “Let Go. Let God.”