30 Stories in 30 Days
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers and friends for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.
My name is Ashley Cooley. I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer at the age of 18, and it all started with a lump on my neck. I went to the hospital to get it looked at, thinking it was nothing but a swollen lymph node. I never thought I could have cancer. I was an active person! I went to the gym every day. I raced BMX. I was healthy, or so I thought.
It was all jovial until 3 doctors walk into the room and shut the door. That’s when you know it wasn’t just a swollen lymph node. It was thyroid cancer. It IS thyroid cancer. After two surgeries and one round of radioactive iodine in my body, I’m still pushing. I still work my 30-40 hours a week. I still go and ride the BMX track every once in a while. Nobody would even know that I have cancer by looking or talking to me, because I don’t let it slow me down. Yes, I have my bad days, and days where I’m in pain or having brain fog from my levels being whacked out. But I bounce right back, and I say to myself “I’m still here. I’m still fighting. And I will win.”
When you’re feeling down listen to music, go on a bike ride or a run, pick up an extra shift at work. Take your mind off the cancer. I went through a period where my cancer was all I thought about. 18?? I have cancer? I can’t stop gaining weight. I’m so tired. I’m so worthless. I’m so …. not me. Who am I? But I dug myself out of the hole I was in and said, “I’m a fighter. I will win.”