Melissa is 33, and lives in St. John’s, NL. She was diagnosed in 2015 with papillary thyroid cancer (Stage 2).
What was most confusing and/or frustrating for you?
One of the most frustrating things I have encountered, was the dismissal of this type of cancer. I was told by many that I was lucky to have this type. Sure it has a high curability rate, but last I checked it was still cancer. Many don't know, that thyroid cancer patients have to be on medication for the rest of their life and that finding the correct dosage can take months or even years. I am grateful that the cancer was found early and that I am able to beat it, but I do not consider myself lucky or any others lucky to have cancer.
What kinds of things did you worry about?
The list of worries were endless and had to be worked through individually. My family, my emotional/mental state and my morality were probably some of the biggest worries. These worries took time and effort to overcome but I find my present self not to be so concerned anymore. I don't think you ever let go of the worry but you learn to manage them so they don't consume you day in and day out.
What was the most helpful and supportive?
I found talking to others very therapeutic. I spoke with family, friends, and survivors. I found it great to reach out to others that have gone through this disease. It was nice to know that everything I was going through, both emotionally and physically was normal. The survivors gave me glimpses of what the future held, which made any procedures or upcoming talks with doctors a little less scary.
What kinds of things do your friends, co-workers, or loved ones say or do to make you feel most supported?
I think the biggest thing for me after my diagnosis was that the relationships with my family, friends, co-workers etc. never changed. I was concerned that they would look at me as the "Cancer Girl" and treat me differently. Things went on as normal, interactions with others stayed status quo and I did not let the cancer define who I was.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."