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Curry’s Courage

Manteca High junior fights rare ailment

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Curry’s Courage

Manteca High junior Airenne Curry, a four-sports athlete, is battling through a rare ailment that nearly claimed her life.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED April 3, 2010 2:52 a.m.
Fighting for a rebound or tussling for a loose ball on the pitch will never measure up to Airenne Curry’s heavyweight title fight with hereditary spherocytosis.

Seeing Curry race along the sideline and effortlessly making opponents miss their target, it’s difficult to imagine the vibrant Manteca High junior lying in a hospital bed learning to trust new teammates.

Curry would have to ditch her athletic teammates and begin trusting a team of medical professionals; medical professionals that were left stumped by what had a four-sport Buffalo athlete fighting for her life.

A frantic trip to Modesto Kaiser, followed by a series of blood tests revealed Curry had an enlarged liver, fluid behind her left lung, fluid filling her pelvic cavity, a tear in her spleen and was bleeding internally. They arranged for her transfer to Kaiser Santa Clara by ambulance, where she stayed for seven days.

The overwhelming reality of her condition shoved Curry into a new life-low, painting an awful imagery no parent could imagine his or her child forced to envision.

“When I was first in the hospital they had concerns that I may have an infection that might have gone airborne, so when people came into my room they had to wear masks,” Curry recalls of the early moments last fall. “That actually got me to a really low point. I was depressed for a long time.

“I figured I’d be done with basketball, I’d be done with soccer and track and all that stuff.”

Accepting her new reality was just the beginning. Diagnosis had still avoided the Curry family, yet after her initial stay the medical team felt it was ok to send her home without a full diagnosis, hoping that she would heal on her own.

Two days later Curry was back in the emergency room, once again being transferred to Santa Clara.  Curry’s family overheard nurses saying they were going to do a bone marrow aspiration the following morning. The team would be looking for cancer.  

Cancer would eventually be ruled out, but instinct and awareness from one of her doctors opened up an avenue of pursuit, culminating with the discovery of hereditary spherocytosis.

Hereditary spherocytosis is a blood condition where red blood cells that should be shaped like donuts are shaped like spheres. The irregular shape caused jamming in the spleen and spontaneously caused splitting near the artery.

The diagnosis would be the first step towards a long bout of recovery, a recovery that has left Curry with a new determination on life.

“She has had to be extremely dedicated,” Curry’s mother Christine Curry said. “She has surpassed everything that I could have tried to be in these circumstances. Her motivation and her dedication were in question a couple of years ago. She was obviously a good player her first two seasons, but it was something that we as her parents would try to get her motivated and it wouldn’t kick in.

“But when the time came this year, something just sparked in her.”

Curry conquered the initial battle of consistent blood work, bed rest and abstinence from athletics to pave her way back into the “regular” life of a high school teenager. With her prognosis looking promising, Curry’s focus has now shifted to helping the Buffaloes conquer a Valley Oak League crown on the soccer field.

The junior is one of three Buffaloes in double-digits in goals with 10 and is top-5 in shots and points. Curry has put together two hat tricks, notching three goals against Modesto (March 6) and Hughson (March 8). She is also participating in the track program, working her way back to four-sport athlete status.

Her soccer teammates are her family, and the support they bestowed upon her is something that will weigh heavy in Curry’s heart for a lifetime.

“I got a lot of support from everyone,” Curry said. “I got more support from the families of my players believe it or not. They knew what I was going through and they all understood, so it made me feel a lot better and of course made me want to get out there sooner.

“They really were all awesome.”

Yet, not nearly as awesome as the courage in which Curry has shown.
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