Well, it’s September 1st, which means it’s now Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. It is also my 8th month of having cancer.
There are a lot of thoughts that come into my head when I think about my diagnosis: “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? When will it get better?” I never thought in a million years I would end up having cancer. I didn’t realize how common thyroid cancer really was in young adults. This year, an estimated 44,280 adults (12,150 men and 32,130 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and it’s the seventh most common cancer in women.
When I was diagnosed, I was constantly told that thyroid cancer was a “good cancer” due to the high survival rate, and that I’ll just get over the grief and the sickness quickly. I felt like I didn’t have a right to be upset because of the type of cancer I had. Then I looked back on the past year and a half: I got the call that there was something suspicious on my thyroid, I was told I had a mutation and needed my thyroid removed, I found out I needed to depend on medication to survive, and then I got the call that I had cancer. I remember standing in the grocery store in pure shock after finding out it was actually cancer. I just started to sob in the middle of an aisle. I think about missing the first weeks of school due to cancer treatment, sitting in an isolated room all alone, and feeling like the world hated me. I think about all that I have lost because of cancer, and I have every right to grieve the life I could’ve had without it. I think about the estimated 2,000+ deaths that occur from thyroid cancer yearly when people tell me to “be grateful for this type of cancer”. I feel afraid every time I go to the doctor or get a test, worrying that I will get more bad news.
Cancer has also taught me resilience: how to advocate for myself for proper medical care. I continue to prove the people who doubted me wrong while I continue college during treatment. I continue to speak up about my cancer so that the people experiencing similar situations feel less alone during the difficult parts. Cancer can be very lonely and without proper support, it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I hope I can show other cancer survivors that it’s OK to grieve the losses and that you don’t have to be strong and positive all the time.
By Chloe La Prairie
Thank you to Amgen for sponsoring this story.