St. Petersburg, Florida - As a 10 News photojournalist, Angela Clooney is on the go. It's a fast-paced business bringing Tampa Bay into focus, but last year, just a few words from her doctor brought Clooney's world to a stand-still.
"He said, 'I hate to tell you this, but you have breast cancer.' It's almost like your brain goes, 'Whaaat?!'" describes Clooney.
Every day at work, Clooney tells other people's stories and over the years she has often brought you the steps and smiles of survivors. So perhaps it's only fitting that it was a survivor and breast-health advocate who pushed Clooney towards discovery.
"We were shooting a story and we were wrapped up and everyone's packing up all the camera gear," recalls Shelby Coriaty of Florida Hospital. "And Angela said to me, 'I feel weird, I've never had a mammogram,' and I said, 'Right here, right now.'"
That initial mammogram showed nothing, but it started Clooney down the road of breast awareness and later, when she noticed an unusual blemish on her nipple, she went to her doctor. That led to several biopsies and finally the recommendation to remove both her breasts.
"That's when you kind of take a deep breath," says Clooney, during a self-interview she videotaped the night before her surgery.
As friends and family -- dubbed Team Angela -- anxiously waited at the hospital, surgeons performed a double mastectomy and the first steps of reconstruction. Doctors say everything went as planned, but Clooney wasn't out of the woods yet. "The recovery was tough," she admits. "But my friends had me covered 24/7."
Team Angela helped get her through both the physical and emotional pain, moments that hit hard, like the first time she viewed her chest. "I look down... I know what to expect in my head, but when you look down and you see it... whoo, I was shocked!"
It took more time and more surgeries, but Clooney did recover and last fall she joined the throngs taking part in Race for the Cure in St. Petersburg. She's a strong woman, now with one more label: survivor.
Clooney says it boils down to this, "I paid attention and I beat breast cancer."