You do not have complete control over your life and that's ok

Header image for the article You do not have complete control over your life and that's ok Credit: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT.

New year, new plans. People make lists with goals for each change of year: starting a new course, studying more, going to the gym, moving to another country, and so on. You outline sub-goals and imagine your life as you planned. But are you prepared to face changes and postpone your plans due to external influences? You should be, because we do not have 100 per cent control over our lives. Sometimes a different condition appears by force.

For example, imagine you plan a move to another country with your family. Everything is right: money, lease, flight tickets, and college. You leave behind your life, your job, and your friends. But you are happy, because this is your dream. What can go wrong so close to this major life change? Nothing, you think, and you hope for that.

However, in one day, your vision turns upside down. After a periodic exam, two weeks before the trip, a diagnosis: thyroid cancer. A one-centimeter tumor on a gland in your neck. Why didn’t you feel any symptoms? Why now? Many questions emerge but there is only one answer: you must fight against it as soon as possible.

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Thyroid cancer is almost invisible in the beginning, which is a crucial moment to fight against it. According to the Global Cancer Statistics 2020, this type of cancer ranked ninth in the world incidence last year, representing 586,000 cases. Unfortunately, women are three times more likely to receive a thyroid cancer diagnosis than men.

Even though the mortality rate is low, the word “cancer” is inherently spooky. You rethink your life and priorities instantly. It seems cliché, but it is a scary truth.

The next step is to talk with doctors and analyze your possibilities. Can you undergo the surgery after a few months? How do you still move to another country safely? Initially, you have two options: postpone your move or go anyway.

Ultimately, you decide to go, to get acquainted in a new country, and come back alone, without your partner – one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make. It is not easy, but your partner has a job, and you, as a student, have more facilities to be understood by immigration at the airport. This decision involves your physical and mental health, college, personal life, money, and immigration.

Surgery works very well, but your plan to stay a month back home needs to extend. The doctors find evidence that the cancer cells surpassed the thyroid. One more time, you must reprogram your life and postpone your return. The next step is to receive one session of iodotherapy to destroy the rest of the cells through radiation. Go ahead, you think, because you are ready.

All of these events happened in less than six months, just half a year, to me. For the doctors, thyroid is a common cancer and has a cure. I need to take hormones every day, 45 minutes before breakfast with little water, but will continue a normal life. For friends and family, there is a mix of feelings: relief because you discovered the cancer soon but at the same time, pity.

We can enumerate hundreds of difficulties involved in a situation like this and finish the lecture with the same feeling of pity. But the reality, and maybe the secret, is to see the other side.

Putting your plans on paper is not enough. No one imagines or wants to have cancer. But closing your eyes and believing that nothing can happen to you is not a solution. Your health must always be your priority.

So this year, make plans, dream a lot, and fight to achieve what you want. But at the same time, do not forget that in one day, everything can change. We try, but we do not have complete control over our lives. Living truly, being resilient and being kinder with yourself is all you can do. You are stronger than you imagine.