Young Woman Writes Letter of Gratitude to Cancer

Christie Currie

In the fifth grade, Christie Currie had her first experience with pleomorphic adenoma, a benign salivary gland tumor that was surgically removed. But four years later, doctors discovered that her adenoma had unusually returned as cancer, launching Christie on a journey that would teach her many life lessons. In letters written for an advanced composition class, she expresses her gratitude to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, and to the disease that helped her realize her potential and become the person she is today.

Christie Currie, 18, of Upper Arlington, is gearing up to begin her undergraduate studies at Miami University in the fall. Throughout her youth, she has had to overcome one great challenge—beating cancer.

In the fifth grade, Christie had a small bump removed from the left side of her neck. It was classified as pleomorphic adenoma—a benign salivary gland tumor—and she was instructed not to worry.

However, an MRI four years later revealed two more tumors in her jaw and neck. Doctors considered it a very rare occurrence: Her pleomorphic adenoma had returned, and this time it was cancerous. 

“At first the diagnosis was hard; it took me a long time not to be mad,” Christie says. “But the sun will always come up the next day.”

She embarked on a journey that consisted of 10 reconstructive surgeries and a bone graph at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), where she recalls multiple doctors and nurses shaping her experience.

“Everyone at The James had an impact,” says Christie. “The doctors made me feel confident and comfortable. I didn’t feel like I was surrounded by sadness. At The James, I felt the energy and positivity. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Christie was determined to not let cancer prevent her from living a normal life. With the care she received at The James, her motto was “no excuses” as she continued to earn top grades at school.

In letters written for her advanced composition class, Christie reflects on the lessons she has learned from battling cancer and on her gratitude toward her physicians at the OSUCCC – James. She acknowledges that she would not be the person she is today had she not been handed this experience.

“I can embrace anything that comes my way; I had no clue I had it in me to battle cancer,” she says.  “I am excited to see where the next four years of my life take me.”

To Cancer,

You, my friend, are ruthless, merciless and frustrating. You have left corners of me broken that will never again be the same, but I still thank you for teaching me lessons I never knew I needed to learn. Thank you for making me look at small moments as giant ones. Thank you for teaching me to live and love as big as I possibly can. Thank you for introducing me to many new amazing people and giving me a greater appreciation for the people I already had. Thank you for teaching me that it’s OK to accept the help of others. Thank you for making me face my fears of death, mutilation and loss of self, because in doing this I found a new self. Thank you for teaching me how to find silver linings in the darkest of moments. Thank you for teaching me how to let go of fallacious beliefs, pettiness and small-minded thinking, and for giving me the opportunity to disconnect myself from unnecessary stress. Thank you for helping me to find my true potential; through all of the havoc that you caused, I still was able to hold myself to high educational standards. Thank you for showing me that gratitude should come out of every experience. Thank you for giving me a new perspective on life. Thank you for teaching me that

I am stronger than you.”

To My Doctors at The James,

Thank you for contributing to the presence of a world-class cancer hospital in my backyard.

Thank you for your intelligence and for your unyielding determination to find answers. Thank you for spending hours on the phone with doctors halfway across the country. Thank you for reading every medical document you could get your hands on about my kind of cancer. Thank you for fixing me when I was broken. Thank you for recognizing that I am not my cancer and for genuinely learning who I am as a person. Thank you for putting me back together better than ever. Thank you for making time in your busy schedules for me every time I get anxious or scared. Thank you for listening to all of my fears. Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for looking in my eyes, holding my hand and telling me it will be OK each time the anesthesia slowly takes me away. Thank you for fighting for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. Thank you for giving me my future.”