begun exercising almost every day, which she hadn t been able to do before her treatment. I didn t realize that the extreme fatigue I was feeling actually had to do with the thy- roid cancer, she says. I just thought I was a run-down mom who was just exhausted. I never would have known because the few symptoms I had hoarseness after talking a long time, a sore throat, a lump in my throat when I swallowed I attributed to allergies. It wasn t until they took the tumor out that I realized I didn t have those symptoms any- more. Now I feel like a new person.
Mrs. Scott has become an advocate for cancer awareness especially for thyroid can- cer, a type of the disease often not discussed. Everybody knows about breast cancer, but thyroid cancer is one that s not talked about, and it seems to affect a lot of women in their 20s and 30s, she says. I feel it s important for me to make sure that other people are aware and to be proactive. Make an appoint- ment once a year with your primary care phy- sician just for a checkup. And if they don t check your neck as part of the exam, there s nothing wrong with asking, Could you check my thyroid? Could you palpate my neck to make sure everything s OK? There s nothing wrong with that, and I try to share that with friends, family and anybody who will listen to me.
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE Mrs. Scott credits the support she
received from family and friends with helping to make the cancer experience easier espe- cially since she had decided to go ahead and enter nursing school just as she was starting treatment.
It was everything at once, but I had worked so hard to get into school that I didn t want to postpone it, she says. I said,
Let me just try to do it and push through. We ll do the surgery, we ll do the treatment, we ll do school, we ll try to juggle it all. And luckily, it worked.
Mrs. Scott spent many hours working on a calendar to organize each day to have enough time for school; her husband, Adam; her children, Alex and Aidan; her school- work and herself. Her coworkers in the UAB Mother/Baby Unit organized meals for her so she wouldn t have to worry about feeding her family. The support I had from my doctors, my friends, my family and my husband made a difference and meant the world to me, she says. I m one of those people who has a hard time relinquishing control. I m the one who s always taking care of other people, so it was hard for me to accept the help. It took a lot for me to do that, but now I tell people that if you re sick, accept the help. The people in your life feel helpless, so let them do what they offer to do, because that makes them feel like they re doing something useful for you.
While Mrs. Scott is still trying to juggle it all family, school and a full-time nursing job she says cancer has helped reprioritize her life. Cancer has been a blessing in dis- guise. It s made me change how I take care of myself, how I feel, how I project myself to the outside world, she says. I ve always been a positive person, but I think this has just taken it to a new level. I honestly believe that when you wake up in the morning, every day is exactly what you make it, and if you wake up with a smile on your face and a positive attitude, you re doing your part. That s going to transfer to other people. They re going to pick up on that, and life s just going to be better. And it is.
CANCER CENTER SUPPORT GROUPS
One-on-one emotional support
for patients and caregivers
For patients with malignant brain
tumors and their families
Cathie Robinson (205) 934-2921
For newly diagnosed breast cancer patients
(205) 801-8266 or 1 (800) 333-6543
Prostate cancer support group
for men and their families
John David Farris (205) 326-9439
ORTHOPEDIC ONCOLOGY SUPPORT GROUP
Michelle Gray (205) 930-8564
CANSURVIVE GYN CANCER SUPPORT GROUP
For ovarian, cervical and
endometrial cancer patients
Margaret Keeton (205) 930-8676
LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA SOCIETY PATIENT AND FAMILY
SUPPORT GROUP Alma Del Grosso (205) 934-0337
GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP
For anyone who has lost a loved one
Jim Elrod (205) 682-9441
RADIATION ONCOLOGY SUPPORT GROUP
YOUNG BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS
For those diagnosed before the age of 45
Hillary Parmer (205) 930-8870
U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R 9