My name is Corrine Lussier and I am 24 years old. I live in the greater Los Angeles area with my husband and Sharpei dog. I have been cancer free for 11 months.
In March of 2011 I started to get severe headaches and pass out. I lost a lot of weight fast, and my joints ached severely. And I could predict the weather to boot because of that pain. My boyfriend urged me to see a doctor multiple times over the course of the next months but I knew the symptoms of Lupus, the disease that I was misdiagnosed with at the age of 19, and I had them all. I was set that I was having a “flare up” or a time where symptoms of that autoimmune disease set in due stress and other triggers.
May of 2011 rolls around, and I have the same symptoms plus not being able to move my neck. I don’t know how I did it, but I drove to San Diego to see my boyfriend in heavy traffic on the I-5 freeway not being able to move my neck. I was so scared. That whole weekend I slept and threw up a couple times. My boyfriend was set-he was taking me to the emergency room.
I denied, refused, and made it back home safely. Tuesday May 17th arrives, all the symptoms have increased. My mom took me to the hospital out of fear that I might have meningitis. 4 hours of sitting in the waiting room, a CT scan, and some heavy meds, the doctor came in and said something about admitting me. The details are a bit fuzzy from here. I don’t remember much, but I do remember thinking that I was dying. That it was my time to go home to Heaven.
But apparently God wasn’t done with me yet. I had emergency brain surgery on May 19th and was told that I had a condition called Hydrocephalus-when the brain fluid doesn’t drain properly. The doctors told my parents that there was a tumor and a cyst that was blocking the brain fluid from draining properly. When I awoke from surgery I realized that half my hair was missing. At the time one doesn’t worry about those things but later it would be heartbreaking. On the 21st of May my boyfriend proposed to me in the hospital, then becoming my fiancé. He always told me that he was given an option to leave. That this life would be hard and we were young. He should live. He decided to live with me and proposed. He turned one of the most horrible moments of my life into something beautiful.
I was sent to UCLA the minute I could walk out of the hospital doors. I was bald, almost 21, and thankful to be alive, but also facing the potential of starting chemo right away. The next few months were difficult for me. I learned that I was misdiagnosed with Lupus and that all my symptoms were due to the hydrocephalus, and two weeks later I was stung by a stingray so bad that it gave me a Staph infection. It would take me 3 years to get over my fear of the ocean, and of hospitals.
Thankfully the doctors stayed cautious. The tumor was inoperable. If they operated and missed I would be blind. Over the course of the next two years we watched the tumor grow, it was the size of my thumbnail, but it caused so much damage since it was in the center of the brain. And there was a wedding. My husband and I knew that we would continue to pray that I would not need chemo or radiation before we were married.
In August of 2013 the doctor told us to suit up and prepare for battle, radiation was needed, and it was that day that I was officially diagnosed with Stage I glioma brain cancer-the cancer we knew existed all along. I was devastated to say the least, but fear never crossed my mind. I had spent the last two years prepping for this day. I was ready to fight and fight this fiercely. It took me two hours of driving every day on the I-405 to UCLA medical center for 20 minutes of radiation for 6 weeks. It was the closest thing I could associate hell with.
As a 23 year old, I had a ton of support. Something I learned that not a lot of people are blessed to have. I never went to treatment without someone taking me there, and my boss let me keep my job. My family surrounded me with love, and joy, while my church took care of my husband and I by bringing us food. It was one of the most draining things I have ever experienced in my life.
I was exhausted around the clock, and my sinuses have not drained properly ever since. It took me months to feel like I was no longer bloated. And finally after three years I can comfortably grow out my hair. Cancer has left a lot of scars, but has pushed me to try new things, to be brave and fearless. Now I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in English, writing a book, and paint surfboards. All of these things I decided to tackle because Cancer literally is the worst thing I have ever experienced, but I swore it wouldn’t rob me of my joy and determination.
A couple months ago my oncologist told me that the tumor was still shrinking. I was close to being deemed in remission, but the cyst appears to show signs of growing. We are heartbroken quite a bit, but are prepared for whatever battle is thrown our way. Sometimes the battle doesn’t stop when you hear the word “remission”. For my husband and I, we face the potential of many more surgeries to keep my brain fluid flowing, but I am working hard to keep cancer in my past. While it seems like the battle will never end, I have decided to be brave. To choose fierceness. To be young for as long as I can and brave for the rest of my time on this Earth.