It was the summer before my senior year of high school that my life changed forever.
I had been losing a lot of weight, sleeping throughout the day, and getting sick more than normal. My mom could tell that there was something off with how I had been acting, so she called a family friend, who happened to work in the endocrinology department at Akron Children’s.
Lisa, our family friend, recommended that I be brought down to her department for an evaluation and to have blood work done.
I remember sitting in her office, thinking about all the outcomes that could be wrong with me. After several ultrasounds and blood work, never in a million years did I think that the doctor would tell me I had tumors on my thyroid, and they needed to be removed.
My parents and I met with the surgeon, Dr. Crow, to schedule the date of my surgery. It was scheduled for Aug. 6, 2010, 3 weeks before I was supposed to start my senior year of high school. As upset as I was, I knew this had to be done.
Aug. 6 quickly approached, and before I knew it, I was in the hospital prepping for surgery to take place that morning. I remember how scared I was.
I didn’t know what to expect, could it be cancer? What if I don’t wake up? Those were a few of the many questions I had running through my head moments before I was taken back into surgery.
Before I knew it, I was out of surgery and on the recovery floor. I woke up extremely confused and sore. I had a huge gauze strip across my neck with stitches underneath. I was confused. I wanted to know what had happened to me after I fell asleep.
After I got into my room where I would stay for the next few nights, the doctors and nurse came in. I remember hearing the words “cancer” and “total thyroidectomy” as my parents and the doctors were talking. I started crying and thought, why me?
When the doctors left my room, my mom came over to my bed and explained what they found during surgery. The tumors on my thyroid were cancerous. I had cancer.
My life seemed to shatter in a matter of seconds right before my eyes. Then, I looked to my mom and said, “Well, where do we go from here?”
After a month of recovering at home, I was finally able to start my senior year of high school. I was anxious. I had a scar that was the width of my neck across my neck so I was insecure.
My friends at school were extremely supportive, and it was reassuring to know that nothing changed. A few weeks into school, I had to begin radiation on my neck to make sure that there wasn’t any cancer in my lymph nodes. Those few weeks were some of the worst weeks of my life.
The scans came back clear, and I was finally on my way to enjoy the rest of my senior year – and the rest of my life.
Four years later, I am now going to be a senior at Kent State University in the fall, majoring in pediatric audiology.
I could not have gotten through the past couple years without the support of my family and friends. When you have cancer, everyone who loves and cares for you is affected by it.
I am proud to say that I am a survivor, and I have never let this get in the way of accomplishing my dreams.