In July 2013, during what was supposed to be a normal sports physical, I turned my head to the side to talk to my doctor, and my mom noticed something, "Is that a lump on her throat?" she asked. An ultrasound and biopsy afterward revealed that I had papillary thyroid carcinoma, a type of thyroid cancer that required major surgery to remove my thyroid and a few affected lymph nodes from my neck, along with radiation treatment. Though they caught it early and I didn't need chemotherapy to treat my cancer, the treatment was still very difficult for me to deal with.
I tried to act like everything was fine, and I was determined not to allow my illness to affect my daily life and deter me from my goals, but my body was so different and I lost much of my energy. I accepted my new lifestyle changes, and started being much more conscious about my health. When I started experiencing abdominal pains last year, I didn't hesitate to go to the doctors to find the cause. They found nothing, but as it got worse, I went to my gynecologist again. She did urine samples, bladder tests, and a blood test. The next week, she called me on my way to class saying that I needed to see a hematologist because my white blood cell count was off the charts. Of course, my parents and I started freaking out.
After checking in with my professor, I called my endocrinologist to tell him what was going on, and, since he regularly took blood samples from me, if this was somehow normal. Hours later, they called back, telling me that I needed to come to the emergency room right away. Shortly after, I found out that I had chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Thankfully, they caught it at an early stage.
They put me on a daily treatment pill, and since then, they've been monitoring my blood levels to make sure everything is under control. I am feeling physically fine now, but the stress and depression that comes with this has been overwhelming to the point where I'm seeking therapy. I've been really struggling to stay motivated, constantly worried about my financial situation now that I have to pay my hospital bills, worried about what my health will be like for the future, and trying to be successful without my cancer being an excuse or a crutch or anything like that.
It's tough, but I've always tried to find positivity in these situations, and the biggest and most beautiful thing this journey is seeing your family, friends, and even complete strangers come together to be there to support you, whether it's donating money, offering to chat, or praying for well-being. So for anyone who's going through a similar situation, my biggest advice to you is to talk about it and try to seek positives.