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A silver lining in a cancer diagnosis? Is there even such a thing? Can there even be something like that after receiving life-altering news? While sitting in the chair at the surgeon’s office, a silver lining wasn’t even something that crossed my mind. I couldn’t even imagine there to ever be one. 

Shortly after receiving my medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) diagnosis, I started a blog. It was mostly to keep people updated about my journey. There were just way too many people to keep in the loop; I knew it wouldn’t be possible to update everyone, not to mention mentally exhausting. Now, 6 years later, I look back on that blog and it shows even more of a silver lining than I could have imagined. 

Throughout the journey, writing had become like therapy, and looking back I can see how far I have come. 

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Please don’t get me wrong; if I could change the fact that I have cancer, I would. I don’t think there would ever be a cancer patient who wouldn’t have changed this about themselves. However, I have said it before, I am grateful to have this type of cancer. Again, please remember, this is not true for every MTC patient. 

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Why would I be grateful for this cancer? Really, it is simple. I am one of the lucky ones so far. My cancer is growing rather slowly. Other cancer patients don’t get the luxury of time. I have been given this gift. MTC in quite a few cases grows slowly enough to often give patients decades. 

A family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just 3 months after I was given my diagnosis. She passed away within a quick 5 months. I have been given over 6 years now. 

Growing up, I always thought by the time I got into my early to mid-20s, I would be “all grown up,” the person I was meant to be. Boy, was I wrong! Sure, I had done a lot of growing up already but it didn’t really prepare me for all that was coming my way. 

When I compare the person I was at 25, I am a very different person now at 31. I think many of the changes in my personality, relationships, and outlook on the world, have been shaped through my cancer journey. My husband and I were married almost 4 years when cancer entered our world. We are now approaching our 10-year wedding anniversary. 

Yes, we got married very young, but I am so grateful to have had my husband by my side through it all. While our relationship was challenged and changed through all of the struggles, our marriage is stronger than it has ever been. 

Another area where I have seen incredible growth throughout these struggles is in my career. I feel I am a more compassionate nurse after coming back to work following my treatment. I am less scared to talk about death or difficult decisions than I was before. Simply because I have had to face that reality for myself much more closely than I ever would have imagined needing to at my age. 

Therapy has been very helpful. I don’t think I ever would have started seeing a therapist if cancer hadn’t entered my life. Now, both my husband and I see a therapist, which has been very helpful. It has brought up things we both had to work through. It has been one of the biggest positives to help me to work through my emotions and challenges. 

In my eyes, the silver lining through this crazy cancer journey has been my personal growth. My relationships and friendships, new and old, have improved. The silver lining is, that I am still here. I still get to fight MTC.