Young Adults Speak Out: Erin
Cancer has changed my 28 years of existence on this planet.
Before November 2010, cancer was something that happened to other people. Not someone in his/her 20’s. Not the relatively healthy. Not the people who eat kale berry smoothies and run 10Ks. I participated in Relay for Life and donated to the American Cancer Society. I never expected to ever be a cancer survivor. I never expected to learn about radiation. I used to think that there had to have been something someone did to become “sick.” It didn’t just happen – it couldn’t??
But as I learned, cancer doesn’t discriminate. And no one, at 27, wants to be reminded that they are not immortal. They are in fact rather fragile, and something bad is growing inside their bodies. No one at any age wants to hear that, but I believe it is especially devastating when you’re young. You are confident that you can and will do anything and that your body will always be good to you. You feel robbed. Robbed of innocence and hit with a new reality. Robbed of the luxury of time. Anger, sadness and an overwhelming need to figure out “why??”
While my friends are deciding what flowers they should choose for their wedding centerpieces and celebrating their new babies, I’m debating an RAI treatment with my doctors. Would this treatment allow me to have my own babies someday? They’re popping champagne and I’m popping 16 calcium pills daily because my parathyroids were removed as a complication during surgery.
Realistically you can’t fault them or be angry with people, just because luck or fate or bad genes or whatever it was that brought this to you didn’t bring it to them. But you still feel a sense of isolation, of unexplained sadness at how your young adult life will never feel quite so young anymore. How it could be that you still know you’re the same person, and yet you feel so completely different at the same time.
At the same time as the sadness and the anger and the disbelief – I felt hope, gratitude and love. I felt relief at having something that was treatable. I felt strength in knowing that I would be able to handle anything after this – even future surgeries for an unrelated heart condition. I wanted to reach out and belong to a community of people who understood what I was going through – and I wanted to help others.
For me, many of these issues and emotions have hit me throughout the last 10 months. November 17, 2011 will be my One Year Cancer-versary and I can’t decide how I’ll celebrate it – because I do believe it’s a celebration. I believe that even though cancer sucks and the process has been grueling and tiring and terrifying – I know that it has taught me so much. I know that I will do everything in my power to be healthy, happy and loving. I will never again take my health or life for granted. The next 27 years (and beyond) will be wonderful.
Cancer has given me that. Cancer may have taken my thyroid, but it strengthened my spirit.
Written by Erin/@BigGirlFeats
Tags: changes caused by cancer, living with cancer, September is thyroid cancer awareness month, thyroid cancer, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults, Thyroid Cancer Survivor, written by Erin, young adults speak out