Dajah's story: when cancer strikes at 18
Dajah thought she was too young to have cancer. Today, she shares what that's like to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 18 and how to face the anxiety of a cancer diagnosis as a young woman.
I didn't know what thyroid cancer was. The doctors call it the "good cancer" not that anybody wants cancer at all.
What symptoms did you experience leading up to your diagnosis?
I didn't have any symptoms that seemed out of the ordinary. I was always tired but who isn't these days? I also had swollen lymph nodes in my neck.
How did you react when told you have cancer?
For a minute it felt like my whole world stopped and everyone else just kept going. After I left the doctor's office, I drove away and cried. I tried to pull myself together saying everything was going to be okay but I couldn't. All I could think about was why is this happening to me and am I going to die.
Dajah's 5 tips for young women diagnosed with cancer
Cancer was one of the best unfortunate events that happened to me and I love the person it made me.
1. Don't listen to Google
Listen to your doctor because every situation is unique. I kept putting off my appointments because I thought I was too young to have cancer. ANYONE can get cancer at ANYTIME. Go get checked if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
2. Enjoy every piece of happiness
It's very cliché but a positive mindset really does make all the difference. No one will really understand your situation (as much as they want to) but regardless you are an inspiration to others.
3. Embrace the new YOU
Battling cancer makes you brave and so much stronger. You'll never be the person you were before cancer but you become a stronger version of who you used to be. Embrace that new person and love that new person.
4. Be the gem
For anyone diagnosed at 18 it's difficult seeing everyone else your age be a normal 18 years old but just know that life is not over. At 18, you not only become an adult but you become a fighter for your life. Not many 18 year olds have the strength but the ones that do are gems. Be the gem and keep pushing.
5. Don't worry about what you can't change
I managed my anxiety as best as I could by accepting my situation and staying positive. Do not worry about things you can't change. Just do what you can and worry about the rest later.
What has cancer taught you?
Walking away from my journey, I learned what it truly felt like to feel alone in a world filled with billions of people. I learned what it's like to be depressed with anxiety with no one to turn to because I know they wouldn't understand or I'd just be a burden.
I learned how to appreciate life, big and small things. Having cancer taught me how to love and show compassion for people battling illness physical or mental. I never want anyone to feel as alone as I did throughout my journey. I also learned patience and that with God all things are possible.
Thank you Dajah for sharing your story and insights. We look forward to seeing you all in the Girls Rocking Cancer Community on Facebook or Instagram. You can also reach out to Dajah on Instagram @dajah_jenell
Dajah and Mel