I was 21 back in 2017 when I was first diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer. I had just finished my second year of University and was working part time. I was feeling exhausted, getting severe migraines and just generally feeling under the weather. I also felt breathless quite often. I was encouraged to go to the Doctors by a work colleague/friend. The Doctor asked me several questions and could not find a real cause for concern. She then observed me and asked, “have you noticed there’s a slight lump in your neck?” I had not noticed but it was prominent once pointed out. Following on from this, I was sent for an Ultrasound which showed cause for concern and I was referred to my hospital back home. I then had a CT and MRI scan followed by another Ultrasound with a fine needle aspiration, and countless blood tests. In September 2017, I found out it was Thyroid Cancer. I had a neck dissection, removing the full Thyroid along with several infected and non-infected lymph nodes from the left side of my neck. This was followed up by Radioactive Iodine. Since then, I have had a further 2 surgeries. We are now in June 2020 and I have been diagnosed with another recurrence – this is the 4th time I have heard I have cancer. Due to the global pandemic, my treatment has been put off until it is safer to do so. I will be undergoing Radiotherapy in hopes something aggressive can rid me of this “easily treatable” disease I so called have. It’s been a long process and I am nowhere closer to saying goodbye to this truly awful disease.
My advice to those who are newly diagnosed, those who have just undergone surgery/treatment, those still fighting like me and those who are starting to get their life back to “normal”, give yourself more credit. You are stronger than you know. Be your own advocate and know your body. Talk to people, be it family, friends, you Thyroid Cancer family, a counsellor/therapist. Be angry. Cry. Pick yourself back up. Distract yourself but acknowledge your journey will not be easy. Acknowledge however, that you will get through it. Live in the moment. Enjoy the small things. Do not give up. Do not accept the “if you’re going to get cancer, this is the one you want” narrative. Keep smiling and accept your circumstances with grace. You have got this!
I do not have one quote to live by with this journey so here are a three that really stand out to me:
- You heal, you grow, and you help others.
- Owning your story is the bravest thing you will ever do.
- Life is tough my darling, but so are you.
Rebekka, we want to thank you for your participation in Survivor Sunday!
To learn more about Rebekka, visit her Instagram account @battlingthyroidcancer or blog https://battlingthyroidcancer.wordpress.com