Age: 22 (23 in April)
Hometown: London, Ontario
What was your diagnosis? Papillary thyroid cancer
What school do you attend? King’s University College at The University of Western Ontario. I’m studying Grief & Bereavement Counseling.
What are your career goals? I want to work with families experiencing grief and bereavement. It would be good to use this experience to help children and youth going through cancer, too. I want to become a play therapist as well.
What is your occupation? I’m a student, in my final year of my undergraduate degree.
Your cancer experience:
How did you find out you were sick? What led to your diagnosis?
That’s the strange part. It was completely by surprise.
I had a spinal MRI because I have scoliosis. When I went to my spine specialist for my follow up, he said that they found a mass on my thyroid. He said it was probably nothing serious, but I should follow up with my doctor. I called the doctor right away and had an appointment the next day. They took some blood to test my thyroid hormone levels. Those were okay. I also saw my family doctor a few days later so that everyone was on the same page. He also thought it was likely nothing.
I remembered seeing posters about head and neck cancer at my ear/nose/throat surgeon’s office. I called and got an appointment for the following week. He said that there was a small chance it was cancer, but, again, it was likely nothing to be concerned about. He did a fine needle aspiration biopsy and ordered an ultrasound. I had the ultrasound a week later. I got the results — or, as my Doctor said, the “surprising result.”
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
It was December 2014. I was 22.
In which hospital(s) are/were you treated?
London Regional Cancer Program at London Health Sciences Centre
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?
In my fourth year of my undergraduate degree.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
Oh my goodness this can’t be me! This can’t be happening.
How did your family react?
My parents cried. My sister was shocked.
How did your friends react?
They each reacted in their own way. Some couldn’t believe it. Some were supportive, and some have pulled away. Most are still treating me the same, while others are trying to “baby” me.
What did your treatment consist of?
I’m just getting started, so from what I know, I have to get a ultrasound guided biopsy on some lymph nodes and then surgery to remove my thyroid. I think radioactive iodine as well.
I have depression and anxiety on top of thyroid cancer, so I was really upset and anxious at first. I was worried and wanted the mass taken out right away, but, of course, everyone has to wait their turn. I talked to my psychiatrist and we made some medication changes as well as talking about my fears and worries during that time. The anxiety manifested itself physically with nausea and vomiting.
What is your current medical status?
I’m waiting for my surgery to remove my thyroid. First they have to see if it’s in my lymph nodes with an ultrasound guided biopsy.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting in touch with Deana.