September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by 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.
30 Stories in 30 Days
I have been cancer free for almost eight years now. As scary and unnerving as my experience with cancer has been, I wouldn’t want to go back and change what I’ve been through. I haven’t made too many drastic life changes since my last surgery, but my diagnosis did change my outlook on life. It helped me develop a sense of urgency—in living—that I hadn’t had before my diagnosis. I made a vow to myself that I would stop waiting for life to come to me and instead make sure I went out and lived my life the way I wanted to live it; every moment, every day. One of the biggest changes I made in my life was making time for travel. In the past, there was no urgency to book the trip, take the excursion, make the road trip—work had demands, there was always tomorrow to get it done—I always told myself that I would make time for it later, sometimes adding to my “bucket list”. After my diagnosis and last surgery, I made sure to stop putting items on my bucket list and began putting them on today’s to-do list.
For many people their family is their safety net. I decided not to tell my children about my cancer diagnosis. At the time, they were too young to be supportive and fully understand what I was going through. No father wants to look weak in their children’s eyes, and I didn’t want to scare them if I didn’t have to. Instead I leaned on my wife and my work to help take my mind off my disease.
My experience with cancer has been an educational experience. Not only have I become more involved with the THANC Foundation, but I’ve also been able to use what I’ve learned throughout my journey to give guidance to friends and family who have been diagnosed with similar illnesses. I’ve seen both sides of cancer. On one hand, I know cancer to be pure evil as I have watched it impact many of my family members, but at the same time I wouldn’t want to change what I’ve been through, as I think I came out stronger on the other side. I don’t wish my journey with cancer on anyone, but I wouldn’t be living the life I have now if I hadn’t ever been diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.