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Thursday February 28th 2019


What Awareness Means To Me, Joanna Isbill

Post Published: 18 March 2010
Category: National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month March 2010
This post currently has 18 responses. Leave a comment

(Written by Joanna Isbill, Editor “Life Redefined” / Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults, Dear Thyroid)

Thyroid cancer is not a good thing. But good things can come from it. Awareness is one of those things.

I have a friend who thought the thyroid was maybe located in the shoulder. Awareness is telling people it’s in the neck.

I have family members with various thyroid diseases. Awareness is sharing information with them so they can better pursue wellness.

I have friends with thyroid cancer. Awareness is sharing with each other how we cope.

I have talked with people who think thyroid cancer is the good cancer. Awareness is telling people such a thing does not exist.

I’ve had people tell me that if I had to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get. Awareness is telling people that cancer is not something you choose.

I have encountered people who think I’m now as good as new because my cancerous thyroid was removed. Awareness is telling them what life is like without a thyroid.

Creating awareness means telling my story. No, I don’t chase people down telling them I have cancer and they better go to the doctor today because they might have cancer, too. But when I have the opportunity, I tell my story. I tell my story because I want people to know where their thyroid is and what it does for their body. I want people to appreciate their healthy thyroid and know the symptoms of a failing thyroid.

Awareness does not mean you should freak out over every little ache and pain. Awareness is being in tune with your own body and understanding how it works (or at least trying to understand!) so you can better know when something is wrong. Awareness is being responsible with what we’ve been given.

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18 Responses to “What Awareness Means To Me, Joanna Isbill

  1. HD in Oregon says:

    Great job Joanna! Well put! Well written!
    – thanks so very much!


  2. Robyn says:

    Great letter Joanna! Nothing is good about any disease, least of all cancer.

  3. Hypogirl says:

    Love this:
    “Awareness does not mean you should freak out over every little ache and pain. Awareness is being in tune with your own body and understanding how it works (or at least trying to understand!) so you can better know when something is wrong. Awareness is being responsible with what we’ve been given.

  4. I love this article, Joanna. You made some great points and it’s also very readable. Having to deal with ignorant people can be frustrating, but I guess our aim is to make them less ignorant and more aware.

  5. Dear Thyroid says:

    HD – Like you, I loved Joanna’s awareness post and what awareness means to her.

    As a result of her thyroid cancer, she saw it as an opportunity to educate people; what a gift.


  6. Dear Thyroid says:

    Robyn – Excellent point. The misconceptions surrounding thyroid cancer are as offensive as they are for thyroid autoimmune diseases.

  7. Dear Thyroid says:

    Hypogirl – I appreciated that comment, too. Considering I am prone to fits of hypochondria, it was a perfect paragraph. ha.

  8. Dear Thyroid says:

    Sarah – The concept of embracing ignorance as an opportunity to educate is a good one, indeed.

  9. Dori says:


    Your entry brought tears to my eyes. You and I share the unfortunate fate of having thyroid cancer, and this hit home for me from every single angle. A lot of people I know, including myself, did not have a clue what the thyroid was until they were face-to-face with the topic. Awareness is so important, especially for the young generation who do not think cancer affects them.

    Bravo, darling! Keep spreading the word and telling your story.


  10. Christina says:

    Thank you Joanna!
    I agree with you on every single point.Awareness means helping others to understand what that mysterious thing we call thyroid is all about and why we feel the way we do.
    I talk to everyone I know about my disease.Especially when I, ´m having one of my not so brilliant days.
    We all have to keep spreading the word and try to reach as many people as possible.

  11. Dear Thyroid says:


    You’re right! This point is sooooo true Awareness is so important, especially for the young generation who do not think cancer affects them.

    A lot of young adults and teens think they are immune to one of the fastest growing cancers, thyroid cancer. I know that you are as committed to education and awareness as Joanna is.

    Thanks for your wonderful comment.


  12. Dear Thyroid says:

    Christina – Yes, yes, yes! We have to keep spreading the word and educating people. I absolutely LOVE that you take the time to educate people, even when you’re not having a gland time in the canyon. That’s pretty amazing.

    Thanks for spreading awareness!


  13. Elaine says:

    Along with Thyroid Disease or Thyroid Cancer comes the responsibility of sharing everything we know about it with others. Bringing awareness to those that don’t know is a great responsibility.
    I guess that is way we are all here. To learn and share the awareness.


  14. Dear Thyroid says:

    Flawless point, Elaine! You’re right…


  15. Brooke Milander says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said.
    Awareness is so important. People don’t even know where the thyroid is, or WHAT it is! After I learned about my thyroid cancer, and what the thyroid does, I realized it has been messed up by whole life! I hope people will become more aware so they, too, can prevent problems later on.

  16. Liz says:

    Love it, Joanna! <3

  17. Amy says:

    Wow. So well written. What you wrote puts how I feel into words. I’m a terrible writer so it’s hard for me to express myself in writing. I really admire your ability to do that. It’s funny to me how no cancer patient I have spoken with has ever told me that my kind, thyroid cancer, is the good kind. I’ve shared my experiences with many cancer patients, none who had thyroid cancer, and never has a fellow cancer patient said the stupid things that you mentioned like so many of my dr’s have and family members and coworkers (fellow RN’s) and friends. I’ve had them look at me funny and ask me why people say that thyroid cancer is the best kind to get, though! They’ve heard it, some of them, but I’ve never had another cancer patient believe that m kind looks more fun or whatever. SO many others say those crazy things about thyroid cancer but I’ve never sat in a treatment room with other cancer patients and had them treat me like so many others have. Anyway, nice article.

  18. Joanna says:

    HD–thanks for reading and commenting!

    Robyn: I agree that nothing is good about ANY disease. But, I think we all have the opportunity to use our diseases to do good.

    Thank you, Hypogirl, for your awesome support!

    Thanks, Sarah! Dealing with ignorant people can be SO frustrating…especially those who never seem to catch on. Even worse, those who don’t seem to care. Educating people like this can be so very challenging.

    Katie, I, too, am prone to fits of hypochondria! I often have to tell myself to chill. Sometimes it works and I calm myself. Sometimes I just keep freaking out.

    Dori–I almost typed that I was so glad you can identify, but I’m not glad at all because the reason you can identify is you have cancer. And that does not make me happy. But, I am glad we can connect and unite in the face of cancer. You rock.

    Christina, I love that you talk to so many people about your disease! I think awareness is so much more effective when people can put a face with the disease and associate somebody’s story with a cause.

    Elaine, you are so right about awareness being our RESPONSIBILITY! Thank you for saying that.

    Thank you, dear Brooke, for sharing. Awareness is so very important, especially, as Dori said, for the younger generation who thinks they are immune to so much.

    Thanks, Liz!

    Thank you, Amy. I, too, have never spoken with another cancer patient who thinks I’m lucky for having thyroid cancer instead of their cancer. It’s only people who haven’t experienced cancer who say stuff like that. I think people with any type of cancer automatically get that cancer of any kind is awful.

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