What cancer were you diagnosed with?

Thyroid Cancer

What age were you diagnosed?


What has helped you to thrive?

Since being diagnosed with cancer I've found it's been really important for my treatment and diagnosis to, wherever possible, work around my life rather than feeling like I was putting my life on hold because of the cancer. This has really helped me enjoy things during the year and feel like I'm still moving forwards (I've been on holidays, moved house and am planning my wedding for next year). But it's the small things as well, I've made a conscious effort to keep up the things that I was doing before that make me feel happy and grounded: cooking nice food, going to pottery classes and (occasionally, when I've been physically able to) doing some yoga. I still make sure to go out for meals with friends when I feel up to it, even if it means resting my head on the table in a restaurant for a quick power nap when I have energy dips.

Jess's Story

My name is Jess Lishak and I’m a 26 year-old woman, brought up in London but now based in Manchester. I currently work for a children’s charity doing external affairs, communications and policy and I enjoy cooking, eating, catching up with friends and doing pottery in my spare time.

In August 2018 I noticed a lump on my neck that was growing and starting to cause some compression symptoms when lying down. After months of medical appointments, tests and an operation to remove the growth and half of my thyroid, in January 2019 I was diagnosed with stage 2 follicular variant papillary thyroid cancer. 

While getting my head around my diagnosis and waiting for my second operation and then radioactive iodine treatment (RAI), I found myself looking online for reading and first-hand experiences alongside the many medical and scientific resources available. I wanted to better understand the illness, the treatment and what my life might be like afterwards. I struggled to easily find voices that I could relate to and, in particular, first-hand experiences and advice around what it’s like to have RAI. So I decided to blog about my experiences to make sure there was a bit more information out there for others to find and actually found the process of writing quite therapeutic myself as well.

It feels like there is a gap, in both awareness and service provision, for young adults; we hear about childhood and teenage cancer charities, and then there are the generic big cancer charities which seem to be mainly catered towards middle-aged and older people, probably because that has traditionally been the majority of cancer patients. But there are specific issues facing young adults with cancer, particularly those in their twenties and thirties, and ultimately if we don’t talk about it as a disease that affects young adults, my generation will continue to be unaware or dismissive of the signs and symptoms to look out for, and so diagnosis will happen later or not at all and more people will die. We all need to widen the conversation to acknowledge the diverse experiences, types and signs of cancer across all age ranges.