A Nine-year-old's journey {metastatic papillary thyroid cancer}

What is THE thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a gland in the front of the neck. It is either known as butterfly shaped, or as bowtie shaped. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can't feel it. The thyroid gland is also a reddish-brown color, as it is rich with blood vessels. It is in charge of making hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy and that help your body work normally.

What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is an uncommon form of cancer. This is caused by abnormal cells beginning to grow in your thyroid gland. It is, most of the time, a very curable cancer. The ability to be cured depends on which type of thyroid cancer you have. The easiest type of thyroid cancer to treat is papillary thyroid cancer.

My story

It was January of 2011, and my brother and I were pestering my mother to death. We wanted her to think that we had sore throats, just so we could get out of school and go the the doctor's.

After continuous pleading and begging, my mother agreed, with a slight roll of her eyes, to take us both to the medical clinic down the street. After all, the doctors and nurses working there were usually quick with their diagnoses.

The doctor let us in almost instantly, giving my mother some relief. The sooner we were checked, the sooner she would be able to pack for her trip. The doctor checked on Tanner first. Thankfully, there was nothing to be concerned about.

It was then my turn to get evaluated. The tongue depressor was disgusting and made me gag a couple of times, and the feeling of the otoscope in my ears tickled and gave me shivers. A small feeling of regret filled me, and I secretly wished that I was at school rather than the terrible doctor’s office.

The examination was finally coming to an end. The doctor just had to check for any swollen lymph nodes. Her cold hands came around my neck, and a look of confusion crossed her face. She kept her hand on the left side of my neck. Then, she told my mother, with a concerned tone, that there was a chance that I had mono. I, being a fourth grader, had absolutely no idea what that meant, but I could tell that it was some sort of sickness. However, my mother explained to her that I had just recently had a negative mono test, so the doctor ordered an ultrasound.

Twenty minutes later, a nurse was putting very cold gel onto my neck. The screen to my right showed the inside of my neck, and I watched with interest as the ultrasound was completed. We were sent home to await the results.

Later that day, the radiologist called and informed us that a biopsy was needed. Once again, I had no clue what this medical term meant. I just knew I was going to miss more school.

My excitement vanished the next morning when I learned that nineteen needles would be placed into my neck. After the procedure was explained to me, it was very hard for me to be intrepid.

I really didn’t want it to happen, but I didn’t have any choice. As I laid down on the little bed, my best friend’s mom, Bonnie, walked in with a small white teddy bear. It put me at ease. I squeezed the teddy bear tightly before the doctor came in. Just the sight of him turned my face a ghastly white.

To my surprise, he was one of the nicest people I had ever met. Even though he was sticking a bunch of long and pointy needles into my neck, he distracted me as much as he could with questions about my favorite movie, Star Wars. I actually laughed throughout the procedure as we discussed things such as which Star Wars movie I would bring to a deserted island and what my opinions were on bounty hunters. He referred to the needles as Darth Vader’s lightsabers, and I unflinchingly pretended to be a Jedi.

As I headed to the car, my mother stayed behind to talk to the doctor. She assumed that the test results would not be available until the following week. But the doctor advised her to cancel her trip to Houston, as he planned to have the results that afternoon. That’s when we knew this was serious, and by 5:00 pm, the results were in.

Not wanting to upset me, my mother made an appointment for us to see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist) the next morning. Expecting to talk to another doctor about Star Wars, I was thrown off guard when the doctor walked in with a grave expression on his face.

“Good morning, Jade,” he said. “You have cancer.”

Just as a Jedi begins a new path when a lightsaber changes hands, my journey had begun.

What happened?

I was a couple days later that I was in at the hospital at 6:30 in the morning, and the nurses were prepping me to go through a seven and a half hour long surgery.

The team of doctors I had were very nice. They made me feel at ease throughout all of the prep processes. The nurses were kind as they put in the IVS. The anesthesiologist was so professional and caring, and she is the reason that I want to be an anesthesiologist myself.

The seven and a half hour surgery felt like a five minute nap, and soon enough, I had woken up in a hospital room, surrounded my warm blankets and multicolored teddy bears. The circumstances were not very fun, but I am so thankful that the people in my life who made it easier to get through.

The nurses who helped discover the lump in my neck came to my house and gave me this Build-A-Bear to keep my company at the hospital!

Special Opportunities

Because I got my cancer as a kid, I was a part of the Make a Wish Foundation. I was invited to go to multiple special opportunities. I got to go to Disney World with my family for a week.

I was also given the opportunity to go to different sport events, like a Colt's game. I got to walk out onto the field, and my face was on the big screen. The crowd cheered loudly for me, and it felt great.

One of my favorites was going to the NFL Experience. That's where I learned how to throw a football, and I got to, of course, watch a football game, too.


Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I went through multiple different types of treatments and tests to treat my cancer.
These are some pictures taken of me while I was going through my tough journey. It didn't stop me from being a happy eleven-year-old.

The video above will give you more information on the types of thyroid cancers a person could get.

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