Can you believe it’s been three years? I’m not sure where those years have gone, but for the last three years I’ve been surviving. They say after you battle cancer you are not cured — but you are a survivor.
These past few weeks have been so busy for me that I almost forgot today marked my three year thyroidversary. On June 17, 2013, a New York City surgeon removed my thyroid and several lymph nodes in a three-hour procedure. A lot has happened in the last three years. I got a new job, left a job, followed my passion, and wound up here. Sometimes it feels like I’ve done so much in three years; other times I feel as though time has stood still.
I had to acknowledge this significant day. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and a survivor over the course of three years — things I’d wish I had known when I was first diagnosed. So here is what I would’ve told my scared 26-year-old self if I could go back in time.
Dear Thyroid Patient,
You may think this diagnosis is the end of the world — that your life will never be the same. It’s not. But your life will never be as it is at this very moment. This diagnosis will test every fiber of you — from your reasoning, determination, inner strength, mental capacity, and spiritual being.
You may feel that you are totally and completely alone, misunderstood, and minimized.
You may have friends and loved ones who are incapable of understanding the physical and mental battle that you will come to know so well.
You may have good days and bad ones.
You may cry yourself to sleep.
You may question why this is happening to you.
You may feel as though you can’t get through it.
Each time you feel this way, remind yourself that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It may be a long battle for you, but it’s one that you will win with a positive attitude. Please know how strong you are. How beautiful you are inside and out. And how loved you are. Even if you don’t feel this way now, you will.
Cancer can take a lot from you — if you let it. But it can never destroy a positive spirit, optimism, hope, and your determination to survive.
At the end of the day, a scar is a sign that you are stronger than what tried to hurt you. Each time you look at your scar in the mirror, you should see a line that represents character, strength, and resilience. And when you feel less than in life, let that scar lift you up and tell you otherwise.
You are not defined by your illness, so allow yourself to redefine it.
A Thyroid Warrior