Battling cancer is difficult for anyone, but it’s even harder when you have to do it alone. That’s what happened to Samantha Currie.
Samantha, 27, is the mother of two young boys—5-year-old Max and 10-year-old Robbie. Before COVID-19 and her breast cancer diagnosis, she never dreamed she would have to spend 14 weeks separated from them.
“When I found the lump, everybody said it would just be a cyst, but I knew deep down what it was, so I had more or less prepared myself for the diagnosis. But when the consultant told me, my heart sank to my stomach. And I didn’t know how to tell my kids.”
Samantha first discovered the lump in February and went to see her doctor the next day. She was referred for a mammogram and a scan, and she learned that she’d been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer on March 6th. By that time, the COVID-19 pandemic had already spread to her area.
“They were very quick in dealing with it,” Samantha recalls. “I was supposed to have chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor, but they saw how quickly the cases of COVID were rising and they got me in for a lumpectomy on March 23.”
Samantha’s cancer was already in stage II and had spread to her lymph nodes, but the initial lump was still a small one and could be removed via a lumpectomy without chemo beforehand to shrink it. After that, however, she would have only a short time to recover at home with her family before starting chemotherapy.
Before chemo, Samantha took some time to turn her suffering into a blessing for others by cutting off her long hair and donating it to the Little Princess Trust, where it will be made into wigs for children with cancer.
“I had hair down to my bum, but they advised me at the hospital to cut it short so it was not as traumatic when I saw it on the pillow,” she says. “I got my sister to tie it into a ponytail, and I cut it and sent it away to the Little Princess Trust. Then my sister shaved my hair in at the back.”
And then Samantha started chemo and her long separation from her children.
“They were with their dad for 14 weeks,” Samantha recalls. “I saw them through video, but it just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t able to hug them and give them kisses. Not having physical contact when I was going through cancer treatment was hard. Lockdown was the loneliest time of my life, and, because I couldn’t see anyone, no one really knew what I was going through.”
But although she may have been lonely, Samantha certainly didn’t have any reason to be bored, because she was still studying for her college exams while she underwent chemotherapy. That’s right—she worked hard and got an A in her administration with medical course while battling cancer.
“I just continued with my college work at home while I was going through chemotherapy,” she says. “I didn’t want to give up my course.”
Samantha was awarded Ayrshire College’s Student of the Year title for her hard work during such a difficult time in her life.
“It was tough going for her. We saw her mental health going down but she always managed to lift herself up for the sake of her boys,” says Samantha’s mother, Jacqueline. “We were so proud when she was made student of the year. It was great to see her hard work recognised.”
Jacqueline and Samantha’s maternal grandmother were both diagnosed with breast cancer, but they were both older when they received their diagnoses. At this time, doctors don’t believe Samantha’s cancer is hereditary; however, her sisters—41-year-old Lorraine and 35-year-old Ashley—will be screened for cancer as soon as those services are available post-COVID.
Best of luck, Samantha! You’ve been through so much and are so brave, and we believe your hard work and perseverance will pay off!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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