I was diagnosed three years ago in 2018. It was stage 4 Anaplastic thyroid cancer. It is the rarest form of cancer and is very aggressive. There is no stage in this cancer. There is only stage 4.
I was having trouble with my right ear. It was painful, and I noticed a lump in my collar bone. When I visited the doctor, he said that there was nothing to worry about. But I insisted on further tests. This is how my cancer was diagnosed.
My first reaction
As I had pain and different symptoms indicated thyroid cancer, the diagnosis did not come to me as a big shock but knowing that it is an aggressive type of cancer and in stage 4 was worrisome. Only one per cent of the thyroid cancer patients get diagnosed with the kind of cancer that I have. My doctor told me that there is no guarantee of success even after treatment, but if I do not opt for treatment, there is a chance of just 4 to 5 months of survival.
As the cancer was aggressive, so was the treatment. I went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy and six months of radiation therapies. When radiation was completed, I had three rounds of very high doses of chemotherapy. It took around six months to complete the treatment. I was referred to a senior oncologist who had experience dealing with my type of cancer. He was able to remove that tumor completely and my thyroid as well.
It all happened so fast, and it has a very poor prognosis. So, I was very tense and depressed. I connected with a different support group; it helped a lot. I had many questions; I got a very realistic response from the group. After connecting with the group, I could understand that I am not the only person with cancer, and if I get proper care and correct treatment, it can be cured. It gave me a sense of self-confidence. The support group is essential in the survival journey. It gives us hope to meet with other survivors.
Support from friends and family
I felt like my life was over—I didn’t know what to do next or how to handle this news. But my family and friends were there for me every step of the way; they helped me every day as we faced this new challenge together. It took time, but eventually, we could get through it all together! Now that I am healthy again, I need to help others who are going through something similar—because even though it is hard at times, there is always hope! You can beat this disease if you have support from those who believe in you and believe in your recovery.
Life after cancer
I am very thankful. When I was told that I am cancer free now, I felt I had achieved the first milestone. Even my doctor was thrilled. It is a gift that makes me think that life is beautiful. I feel lucky that I am alive today. It has given me confidence that I can do anything now. When you realize that you have only four months to live, you realize what is most important. The people you love and care about; become a significant thing in your life. It is best to focus on essential things in life. Cancer is a gift that reminds you that life is so important and precious every day.
Fear of recurrence
Even though the doctor declared me cancer-free, fear of recurrence was always there in my mind. Cancer and its treatment have long-term side effects. It used to haunt me constantly. After three years of treatment, I can come out of that fear. With every passing day, the anxiety is getting reduced. You have to be kind and patient. I know I can never be the same again. And I don’t want to be the same again. I am happier now.
Message to others
Don’t give up, even if it is terrible. How bad it is. Give it a try. I always had a feeling that I would overcome it. I know what it’s like to get a devastating diagnosis like this. It can feel overwhelming, and it can seem like the world’s end. But it’s not! You can survive—and even thrive—with the rarest kind of cancer.