Positive outlook makes the difference in local’s battle with cancer
Published 12:03 pm Sunday, October 29, 2017
By LEILA CASE
AMERICUS — Angie Daniel Trollinger was apparently born with a happy gene. Her sense of good humor and constant smile turns a frown upside down.
The Americus native’s positive mental attitude coupled with the support of family and friends is evidence enough of how she managed a difficult period of her life.
Exactly one year after a pre-cancerous tumor was surgically removed from her left breast, Trollinger was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, 2013. She was 44.
Because she has a history of breast cancer in her family, her husband Stan Trollinger, and parents Phyllis and Reggie Daniel of Americus, wanted her to get a second opinion and insisted she contact Dr. Kristen Korgan M.D. the breast cancer specialist at Georgia Breast Care Center in Marietta. (Korgan has since died).
“I had another mammogram at the Breast Care Center and they followed up with an ultrasound to be on the safe side,” said Trollinger. “It was then I intuitively knew I had breast cancer.” The physician remained after hours to perform a biopsy. The final diagnosis was not good.
“She told me then that the breast cancer had advanced to the 3.6 stage and that it was developing at a 93 percent growth rate,” said Trollinger.
“I didn’t cry tears, get upset or worry — I prayed hard and still do every day — I have faith. I told my doctor that I wanted to do whatever it took to meet the challenge to get well and she said that together we would work on a plan,” said Trollinger, who because of the lumpectomy the previous year knew she wanted to have a bilateral mastectomy (the removal of both breasts).
The double mastectomy was lengthy, a total of six surgeries three months apart while simultaneously having chemotherapy treatments. Trollinger said she received “great” medical care and got along fine during that time.
“I felt OK because I didn’t have many side effects — my hair totally fell out but I didn’t want to wear a wig,” said Trollinger. “I wore a cap or scarf instead.”
“I went about my life with my husband and then teen-age sons, Austen, Hunter and Reagan, as usual. I wanted to remain positive for them as well as myself,” said Trollinger. “My mom went with me to every treatment as much as possible and the very few times she couldn’t take me, I had good friends who did. Afterwards, we enjoyed a good meal with a glass of wine,” she said with a laugh. “I knew because of the drugs I wouldn’t be able to eat that much in the days ahead. My husband, family and friends were so supportive and I couldn’t have gotten through it without them.
After completing the round of chemotherapy treatments, her oncologist in Macon didn’t suggest she have additional radiation; however, Trollinger said she didn’t feel comfortable with that decision and consulted the breast specialist in Atlanta, who felt uncomfortable as well. She shared Trollinger’s medical history with the tumor board, a group of medical specialists in Atlanta, who collectively concurred and then referred her to a radiology specialist.
“Following our consultation, the specialist told me, ‘if I was sitting in your chair right now at your age and in good health I would have radiation,’ ” said Trollinger and she took the specialist’s advice.
She suggests to others who may find themselves in a similar situation regarding breast cancer to seek a second medical opinion and make your own decision; don’t doubt yourself. “I wanted to say if the cancer re-occurred I did everything I could,” she said.
During that period of her life, Trollinger said she continued to work in the family business at Danfair Oil where she had been employed for 23 years. “I loved every minute of it but I wanted to work with children.”
Today, Trollinger is cancer free and works at Southland Academy, serving dual roles. She is administrative assistant to Ty Kinslow, headmaster, and teaches art appreciation to high school students.
“All of Southland’s 520 students come through my office every week and I love seeing and helping them,” said Trollinger.
It’s been more than four years since Trollinger’s breast cancer diagnosis. She sees her oncologist Dr. Jose Tongol at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus on a six-month basis and has annual checkups with the breast cancer specialist in Atlanta.
“So far, so good,” says Trollinger. “I hear five years is the magic number — I look forward to that date next March.”