This I Believe

Jordan - Sarasota, Florida
Entered on November 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

My family, you could say, are my rock in life. A year ago this month I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. I was only seventeen years old at the time and in the middle of my senior year of high school. First we had no idea if the small lump in my neck was cancerous or not. But after many sonograms and tests completed my surgeon decided it was time to remove the lump for my health. I had my first surgery which was my first surgery ever so you could say I was quite nervous. I woke up and everything went great. My surgeon said that luckily the lump was a cyst and they just had to remove one side of my thyroid. So I went home the next morning and started the recovery process.

As a few days passed one early afternoon I received a phone call from my surgeon. He clearly stated that my cyst was sent off to the lab and came back malignant which required the removal of the remaining right side of my thyroid. He explained to me that a small .3 millimeter cancer was growing on the cyst, which was attached to the left side of my thyroid. This came as a huge shock to me because to my knowledge, everything was fine and I could continue on with my life. But really my fight was just starting. We scheduled an emergency surgery for the next night because we wanted to make sure that the cancer wasn’t spreading throughout my body. After my second surgery I was very confused and did not know what was going to happen next. My surgeon then referred me to an endocrinologist, or in other words someone who specializes in Thyroid related issues. He also told me that I was probably going to have to receive radiology and go through treatment but my endocrinologist could help explain that more.

After a week my mother got into contact with Dr Mark Lupo, a local endocrinologist here in Sarasota. She looked up research on him and his background. As far as I knew he looked like the doctor for me. I mean it was in a way up to him help save my life. My first appointment was two weeks after my last surgery and I was just starting to feel the symptoms my surgeon explained I would. I was weak, tired, confused, in pain, and very scared. My first impression of Dr Lupo was that he was very intelligent when it came to explaining my condition and what was needed to be done. I felt very comfortable and confident that one day I would be able to live my normal life as a young adult again. Because by then all I wanted to do was go back to school and live the life I was accustomed to, not this scary nightmare I was trapped in.

At the end of my first appointment Dr Lupo asked me a very important question. He asked me “Do you feel you need radiation?” He explained that radiation isn’t necessarily good for you but if you need it then it could save your life. Under my circumstances, since my cancer was attached to a cyst and not my thyroid itself and was under 1 millimeter in diameter, he did not feel that it was necessary for me to take in radiation that could harm me. I was still having trouble making such a hard decision because this was my life and to make one decision that could keep me alive or kill me was the hardest one ever. My father wanted the peace of mind that the cancer hadn’t spread by me taking radiation, but I also did not want to miss my whole senior year and have to graduate with a different class. But eventually I made my decision not to have radiation and to continually visit an endocrinologist twice a year for the rest of my life. I will also have a sonogram one of those visits to make sure my thyroid tissue isn’t persisting to grow back which could cause the cancer to grow back. I take a pill called Synthroid everyday which gives me the hormones my thyroid would have given me in order to live my life normally. I will continue to take this for the rest of my life. I am now able to fulfill my goals of becoming a Registered Nurse and be successful in the life I plan to live. I now cherish my life a lot more and never let one moment pass without letting my family know how much I love them. Because you never know when your life could be taken from you.

Having cancer was honestly the toughest time of my life. I did not know whether I would make it or not and I did not know what the future held for me. My family stood by my side throughout my struggle and this life changing experience has made me realize how much they mean to me. When you go through something so hard to accept all you need is someone by your side to tell you everything will be okay. That’s exactly what my family did. They flew into Florida from all over the country just so I knew they were there. That meant more to me than I could ever explain. Knowing I wasn’t fighting alone and that I had my family there to help me make it through that tough time of my life that I never thought I would have to experience. Nonetheless, ever think id even live through. My family does play a huge role in my everyday life and will always come first. With as difficult as life can be, I have no idea what I would do without my family. My family continue to be my safety net and will always have all of the love in my heart. They lift my spirits when times get rough and made me who I am today. I could lose everything I have in this world but as long as I still have my family, my life will be complete.