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Too often, during her yearly mammogram, Glenda Curry was informed that “something” had been spotted. She would return for a follow-up examination, only to be told that “something” was actually a misreading due to one of her moles not being marked appropriately.
In August 2016, when her yearly mammogram prompted another follow-up call expressing concern over the results, Glenda was quick to disregard and avoid worrying about “something” when she was confident it was nothing. But then calls kept coming and didn’t stop.
Glenda was only able to avoid them for so long before she finally answered a phone call and explained that she had just started a new job in early November and would not be eligible for medical insurance for another three months.
“They called me back exactly three months later,” recalls Glenda. “That’s when I started to think something might be going on because most hospitals don’t follow up like that.”
Finally, in April 2017, Glenda returned for her follow-up and, over the course of three days, had two biopsies conducted. A couple days later, Glenda discovered that, this time, ‘something’ was actually stage 2 breast cancer.
“I was in a state of shock,” recalls Glenda. “I was certain that there had to be someone else in the room that they were talking about.”
On the Monday immediately after her diagnosis, Glenda was scheduled to meet with Henry Ford medical oncologist Haythem Ali, M.D., but with understandable apprehension. Glenda had already lost two family members to cancer, both of which were Henry Ford patients, and another family member, a physician, was encouraging her to visit a different cancer institute. However, after one visit with Dr. Ali, Glenda felt comfortable, and appreciated how he communicated with her. She knew she could trust him.
“I’ve never had a doctor spend that much time with me before,” says Glenda. “He was kind, very patient and never rushed me during appointments.”
As a former Branch Manager at a banking center, Glenda was accustomed to always being in a leadership role as she boldly climbed the corporate ladder. However, after her initial visit, an aggressive treatment plan began and, although she had always been fearless and determined enough to overcome almost any obstacle, Glenda had seemingly met her match.
“I’ll never forget how I felt after my first chemo treatment,” recalls Glenda. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t do it and I’m just going to die.’”
In addition to chemotherapy, Glenda’s treatment plan included a successful double (bilateral) mastectomy performed by Lindsay Petersen, M.D., a Henry Ford breast cancer surgeon, and radiation therapy with Kenneth Levin, M.D., a Henry Ford radiation oncologist.
“Given some of the horror stories I had heard, I was incredibly nervous to undergo radiation therapy,” says Glenda. “But, Dr. Levin and his team made sure that none of those horrible things happened to me.”
Despite the wonderful care that Glenda received, the first six months were arguably her lowest point as she struggled to endure the toll that treatment took upon both her body and mindset. Fortunately, her family provided the motivation that she needed.
“I looked at my son and realized that I had to get through this because I was not going to leave him motherless,” recalls Glenda. “My family is the reason I am alive today.”
In October 2017, Glenda was ecstatic when she was told that all traces of breast cancer were gone. Although she periodically meets with her medical oncologist and cancer team, her treatment regimen has ended and Glenda is able to enjoy her leisure time with old hobbies, as well as some new ones.
“I’m outdoors a lot more,” says Glenda. “During treatment I couldn’t do it because I was at risk of getting sick but now I go to concerts, go camping and work out.”
However, the greatest change was in Glenda’s attitude and outlook on life. Prior to breast cancer, a temper with a short fuse dictated her relationships with extended family and Glenda’s priorities revolved around career advancement, personal growth, material possessions and financial status.
“She’s certainly a lot less anxious now,” says Dr. Ali. “She learned that she doesn’t have to micromanage and she put complete trust in us and claims that this is the happiest she’s ever been.”
“Cancer brought me down off my high horse. I now think of all the things I have instead of the things I don’t have,” says Glenda. “My new job was worth the pay cut because money isn’t everything and I just want to be happy. I even went to my first family reunion!”