Young Adults Speak Out: Joanna
I was 24 years old. Life was good. I was trucking along with school and life plans when one day I found a lump in my neck. Within three weeks I had blood work, an ultrasound, a biopsy, another ultrasound, and a total thyroidectomy with a central node dissection. The diagnosis: papillary thyroid cancer. Of the thirteen lymph nodes removed from the central compartment of my neck, cancer was found in ten. A few weeks after my thyroidectomy I had my first ablation with radioactive iodine, which was immediately followed by an isolation period and a triple flushing of the toilet every time I went to the bathroom. And all of that was just the beginning.
Every single aspect of my life changed in some way after being diagnosed with cancer. NOTHING remained the same. It’s been almost three years since I was diagnosed. I’m still not cancer free. I haven’t had a clean scan. I’ve had two more ablations with RAI. I own and use a pill organizer, which makes me feel like an old fart, but it’s necessary. Without it there’s no way I would remember which pills I’ve already taken and which pills I still need to take. I’ve had to relearn how to interact with friends because cancer shook me up so much that I didn’t know how to relate to people. I’ve had to learn the limits of my new thyroidless body. I’ve had to learn how to accept these unwanted changes. And that, my friends, is a never ending learning process.
Cancer doesn’t care how old you are. It doesn’t care if you are on your way to accomplishing big dreams. Cancer does not care if you are otherwise healthy. Cancer doesn’t care what gender or race you are. It doesn’t care if it interrupts your life. CANCER DOES NOT CARE.
Cancer can happen to anyone. Yes, that’s a scary reality but it’s a reality that we need to face. Early detection is so important, so do me a favor and check your neck today.