24 Year Olds Don’t Get Cancer, Right?

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I think everyone remembers where they were when they were first told they have cancer. I was sitting in the back of the 66 Bus in Chicago on my way home from work. I had a missed call from the doctor’s office and I thought nothing of it. I was 24 and felt fine. 

Only old people and little kids get cancer right? Not someone in their early 20s with no health issues. So I casually called back, and the nurse told me my biopsy had come back positive. 

“Positive for what?!” I asked. 

“Papillary Thyroid cancer” she said. 

All of a sudden, my world was spinning. I thought I might throw up and I couldn’t see. She told me I needed to schedule a surgery as soon as possible and I hung up. I went home and called my friend, she came over with ice cream and I just sat there. My mom, dad and brother came over and I said, “I didn’t know I was going to die at 24.” 

They said, “You’re not. You fight. We fight.”

When my dentist told me there was a lump on my thyroid and that I should go get it checked out, I was the type of person who never goes to the doctor. So I ignored him….for 2 years. Finally, I promised him I would go and see if it’s anything. A couple doctors, later I was on the road to surgery, treatment, and ultimately 7 years in remission. 

I am so thankful for my family and friends who have supported me during my cancer journey. Young Adult cancer is less talked about and less normalized than others and going through all of that and then being like okay what now?! I just beat cancer…I have to go back to work and life and continue to try and be a real adult?! It’s hard and never something I thought I would be talking about and working through today. But I am here to share my story and hopefully inspire others that there is hope and there is a way to keep on going.

By Dana Patti

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