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What Being in Recovery for Thyroid Cancer Can Feel Like

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It really scares me how easily I could die.

And yes, being scared of death is pretty normal. But for me, death is as simple as forgetting to take a pill.

No, it wouldn’t be immediate, but it’s the thought of: “What if I can’t access my prescription for a couple of months? My body could fail in that time.”

It’s a heart-stopping thought.

Then I shake myself out of it and laugh it off, saying, “Oh haha, this is why you got diagnosed with depression.”

Ashley Kristoff thyroid cancer feeling 2

But laughing about it doesn’t help the thought still buzzing around my head.

It’s always there, no matter how light-hearted I make my comments.

And I do.

I talk about what it’s like to live with cancer a lot.

I also talk about what it’s like to live “recovered” from cancer.

So many people respond to my story with, “Wow, I’m really impressed how good of a perspective you have on having dealt with cancer.”

“You are so strong.”

“You are so brave.”

“I could never have handled that.”

The truth is, most of the time I can’t handle it.

As soon as anything else goes wrong, it’s there.

As soon as I think, “Everything in my life feels perfect right now,” it sneaks right back in.

It’s. Always. There.

Ashley Kristoff thyroid cancer feeling 3

And for some reason it makes me feel guilty when I’m having a particularly bad bout of depression.

Guilty I am “in recovery” but fearing death.

Guilty I experience suicidal thoughts when my body has already sabotaged itself with cancer.

I am writing this while I’m not in a good place with my mental health, but it’s important to know that even when I am doing good again, these feelings will still be there.

And that’s important to remember of anybody who has had an experience with cancer or a disease that leaves them in this same position.

Just because we’re doing well, it doesn’t mean we don’t all experience these fears and thoughts.

And when we’re not doing well. We need your support even more.

Ashley Kristoff thyroid cancer feeling 4

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All photos courtesy of Andrea Michelle Photography

Originally published: December 5, 2017
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