Written by guest blogger, Sydney Beason
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month. Over 50,000 people are diagnosed with Thyroid cancer every year, and Thyroid Cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women. The statistics are important, but the 50,000 stories are much more transformative. In 2017, I was one of those 50,000 new cases.
My name is Sydney Beason and I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer when I was 17 years old. During my Junior year of high school, on Thanksgiving Day, I developed a rare infection in my throat. The infection took three ER visits and a week to treat. The doctors hospitalized me for almost two weeks to search for the cause of the infection. I am thankful they did so as the first morning I woke up with a temperature of 105.9, became septic, and was rushed to IMU. I am thankful for the medical student who stepped up from behind a crowd of doctors and proposed a reason for the infection because he was right. I had a rare reaction to a medicine I had been taking for three years to treat my severely hyperactive thyroid. The doctors decided it was best to remove the gland and begin treatment with a synthetic hormone. The surgery was intense and resulted in me needing a blood transfusion and long-term calcium replacement.
Soon after the surgery on February 6th, 2017, my next doctor’s visit changed my life. Originally, I had put this day in my calendar as my high school state swim meet where I was striving to qualify for states in the breast stroke. Instead, I looked into my doctor’s eyes as the words slipped out, “We found three spots of cancer on your thyroid.” Her statement left me in a state of utter disbelief. However, those words marked a pivotal point in my life.
My story is one of the true testimonies of the importance of clinical research. My case put me into a .02 percentile range, but thanks to the young doctor, the problem was solved. Every day, new cases develop which allow opportunities for us to better our research and knowledge. Clinical trials offer opportunities to learn, discover, and help provide hope that will lead to many new treatment options and medicines on the market. I would not have the quality of life I do without clinical trials; the medicine that keeps me functioning daily is only in my hands because of clinical trial participants.
Storytelling is powerful. I tell my story in hope of helping anyone going down a similar path and in hope of bringing awareness to the importance of thyroid cancer, clinical research, and overall health. I tell my story because I believe it is compelling. My story is a success story and is the reason I can say I am 18 months cancer free (and counting). I tell my story for those who were not as lucky as I, and are no longer here to tell their story. I tell my story because it is not just my story; it is the story of everyone- friends, family, and doctors- that held my hand during the journey and everyone who continues to support me. My story is not over, and I am reminded of that every time I go in for a six-month scan or labs, but I choose to see that as an opportunity to continue to write and shape my story.
For something I celebrate every single day, I celebrate being Thyroid Cancer free a little extra during the month of September. I am thankful for a journey that has taught me so many lessons and for a scar that reminds me who has carried me thus far. Medical advancements are happening every single day, so we must stay thankful, hopeful, and keep fighting.