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The Reality of Hearing the 'C' Word at Just 19 Years Old

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Nineteen. Just 19 years of age.

Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room with my boyfriend gripping my hand. Both of us expecting to walk out of there the same as we walked in. Him not expecting to walk out having a girlfriend with cancer, and me not expecting to walk out with cancer.

I had a biopsy done a week prior because I had a sore lump on the right side of my thyroid. I walked in kind of expecting good news, but deep down I already knew it wasn’t going to be good.

“You have cancer, thyroid cancer. But don’t worry, it’s a good cancer ”

I couldn’t quite comprehend what she was saying , but I cried. the only thing I knew to do was to cry.

It was a shock.

At 19 years of age cancer wasn’t really going to be my first pick for the cause of the lump in my neck.

The “c” word — it was so scary I couldn’t even say it without bursting into tears.


Still to this day I am in disbelief. It just doesn’t seem real. I’m a cancer patient. I have cancer. Four months on and I am still in disbelief.

I had the choice to take both sides of my thyroid out — possibly for no reason — or take the side with the tumor out and pray I get to keep my other half.

So, of course I chose to keep my other half, as neither of us imagined it to be worse.

One week post partial thyroidectomy…

The swollen throat.

The feeling of choking 24/7.

The pain.

The discomfort.

The inability to swallow or talk.

The complete fatigue and exhaustion that came with it.

Sitting in the endocrinologist’s office, he had the look on his face — the “I’m sorry but you have to do it all over again” look on his face.

He stated, “We took a biopsy of your lymph nodes, and they have come back with positive for cancer. Your left thyroid gland is cancer-free but next week we have to go back in and take that left side out anyway so you can have radioactive iodine treatment.”

I collapsed. I couldn’t do it again. I cried. I was numb.

Not just thyroid cancer but lymphatic cancer, too.

Exhausted was an understatement.

I have to redo the surgery all over again. The left half of my thyroid is cancer-free, yet they have to take it out anyways.

Twenty years of age and I’m exhausted from life.

I’m exhausted from doctors.

I’m exhausted from nurses and hospitals, from being poked and prodded.

I walked into cancer clinic the other week, sitting in the waiting room. I was the youngest by far. The next youngest lady was probably about 35 years old, if not older.

The horrid clean smell that is associated with the cancer floor — the germ-free, sanitized smell that is meant to smell fresh but just makes me want to vomit.

Sitting on the waiting chair, watching the chemotherapy patients walk past, thinking that could be me in a few years time.

It’s so scary. I know I’m a little while off chemo but four months ago I never even knew I had cancer. Now I’m waiting to have radioactive iodine treatment next month.

It’s so scary and daunting how quickly things change.

I ticked “I have cancer” on a medical form the other day for the first time ever.

Twenty years of age and I ticked “I have cancer.”

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Getty Images photo via Inner_Vision

Originally published: December 11, 2017
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