Jessica's Story by Jessica
"Before my illness, my life was perfect. I didn't have anything to worry about besides my daily life and my high school classes. I went to football games, participated in two varsity choirs and never felt like I had to make sure I wasn't overworking myself with activities. It was a life any kid would dream of.
"When I first felt something concerning, I didn't really know what to think - I was just hoping for the best outcome, which was obviously to be fine, but I knew I wasn't. I was freaking out on the inside because as a fifteen-year-old girl, you can't ever imagine yourself having cancer.
"My life changed very quickly and very drastically, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and after nine hours of surgeries, I had these fresh, new scars all over my neck that I quickly became insecure about. I could barely finish my sophomore year which was really important to me and bummed me out that I had to miss basketball games, choir concerts and friend get-togethers. Unfortunately, the emotional toll of having cancer didn't hit me until the fall of 2019, and I struggled with a lot of mental trauma and depression. Getting through that was rough, but once I wrapped my head around it, I was able to move on from that piece of my life.
"Something that really helped me was having a supportive friend group; they would come to my house and watch TV and bring me gifts. It really gave me a sense of hope that I would have the people who I loved the most by my side, especially my sister. She's been my best friend ever since we both matured out of the stage where sisters don't like each other. She would send me messages and packages and always made sure I knew my worth.
"If I'm going to be real, raw and honest, I didn't have the mindset that I should have had at first. I just wanted the pain to go away and I just wanted to be done with my surgeries. I didn't realize I was going to get better until I was all done with my surgeries. I thought, “That's it? I think I’m going to be okay” and kind of sat in my room and processed it. I didn’t have the reaction I felt like a lot of other people have because I already knew I was going to be okay, for the most part. I always had hope through the suffering.
"My advice to those struggling with something similar] is to always communicate with a friend or family with how you’re feeling. Going through something like this can be extremely mentally taxing on someone around my age or younger. It’s never a bad thing to reach out for help. Have faith and hope in your doctors. Also another good tip is to watch as many Disney movies as possible and eat as many donuts as you want, too. Your body and mind have been and will be going through a lot, so treat yourself."