Finding Joy With Loved Ones After & During a Cancer Battle
- Actress Sofia Vergara, who previously battle thyroid cancer, shared an eye-catching video on Thanksgiving to show off a spicy new dance routine alongside her sister and niece.
- It’s great to see Vergara spending time with her loved ones and dancing. For cancer patients, or people like Vergara who have beat cancer, dancing is a perfect way to let out emotions or to just simply enjoy life.
- Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin says having people by your side, like Vergara has throughout her life and on Thanksgiving, during this “arduous chapter” of your life can be very beneficial.
- “Studies have found consistently that loneliness is a significant risk factor for physical and mental illnesses and the trajectory of recovery,” Dr. Strongin wrote in a column for SurvivorNet. “Therefore, it will be important that you surround yourself with individuals who care and support you throughout your treatment.”
- According to the National Cancer Institute, “Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland,” which is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.
Wearing an earth tone-colored dress and stilettos, Vergara is seen strutting her stuff next to her sister Veronica Vergara and her niece Claudia Vergara—all donning extremely similar outfits.
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It’s great to see Vergara spending time with her friends and loved ones, especially after battling cancer years ago. Many cancer warriors can admire Vergara’s enthusiasm for life, especially how she is dancing for fun with family.
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The dance she performed included choreographed hip swaying with her sister and niece, as well as an upbeat twirl, before they comically concluded their performance with a silly pose.
Fans quickly responded with praise, with one commenting, “Yes we are very grateful for this.”
“This isn’t even fair, everyone is thankful for this post! We look forward to more of the three sisters over the weekend!!!” another fan wrote.
A third fan commented, “This will break the internet.”
Prior to sharing the dancing video clip, Vergara shared a photo of herself sitting on a couch in her flashy dress, writing, “Thanksgiving at the neighbor! thank u @anastasiasoare I luv u!”
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Sophia Vergara’s Cancer Journey
Vergara, who married actor Joe Manganiello nearly 10 years ago, who she is now divorcing, found a lump in her neck by chance back in 2000.
Her family has a history of thyroid cancer, which affects how your body uses blood sugar, so she had taken her son to get checked out early for diabetes.
“While we were there, the doctor wanted to check me, too, and he found a lump in my neck,” Vergara said in an earlier interview with Health.
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Vergara had no symptoms at the time and questioned having to undergo surgery but she went through with it, followed by iodine radiation treatment, and was glad she did.
“When you go through something like this, it’s hard, but you learn a lot from it,” she said. “Your priorities change. You don’t sweat the small stuff. And it had a good ending.”
She had to take a pill every day. “Ut controls your body’s metabolism and gives you the levels that you need. An unregulated thyroid can lead to problems with your weight, hair loss, and other things, so they give me a blood test every three months to see where my level is,” she said.
“Actually, I feel very lucky. In a lot of women, the cancer isn’t found until around menopause, and by then its too late.”
The Latin bombshell, who has always had a charitable side to her, is inspiration both her career and her the charity work she dedicates her free time too. She helped build a cancer center in her hometown of Barranquilla.
Enjoying Life After Cancer Like Sofia Vergara
For cancer patients, or people like Vergara who have beat cancer, dancing is a perfect way to let out emotions or to just simply enjoy life.
Cancer doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks. In the case of Evelyn Reyes-Beato, she says she was really thrown through a loop when she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Before her diagnosis, she was planning to go back to school – but the diagnoses completely threw her off track. “When I got cancer, I was like f*ck that, I’m not going to waste what’s left of my life going to school,” she previously told SurvivorNet.
“If I’m gonna die, I’m not gonna die at school. I’m gonna die on a beach, I’m gonna die in the Bahamas, in Paris, in Australia … somewhere, but I’m not gonna die in school.”
Eventually, Evelyn realized that she could still achieve her goals, even with cancer. She found the things that brought her joy in life – “my husband, my doggies, my brother, my family” – and kept on living for that joy. And she ended up going back to school as well.
Meanwhile, accepting that cancer is something that just happens, and it’s not your fault, is a big part of coming to terms with the disease. Breast cancer survivor Heather Maloney also spoke with SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, where she said that simply trying to enjoy her life, even on chemo days, made a big difference when she was facing the disease.
“Find moments of gratitude, and you will get through it,” Heather said. “Not everybody does … but we all do eventually see an ending to it. Life is hard for everybody, but I’m able to more readily and easily access a level of gratitude about being alive … I’m lucky to be alive today.”
Whether you’re a cancer patient or a cancer survivor it’s important to remember that your mental state can actually impact your success as a patient or how you live your life.
“I’m pretty good at telling what kind of patients are going to still have this attitude and probably going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease,” Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet. “And those are patients who, they have gratitude in life.”
Also, Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology, advocates for cancer warriors to prioritize their mental health. She noted that emotional well-being has been studied as a factor in patient outcomes.
“We know from good studies that emotional health is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with better outcomes,” Dr. Chase told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
“So, working on your emotional health, your physical well-being, your social environment [and] your emotional well-being are important and can impact your survival. If that’s related to what activities you do that bring you joy, then you should try to do more of those activities.”
Support Through Cancer
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin says having people by your side, like Vergara has throughout her life and on Thanksgiving, during this “arduous chapter” of your life can be very beneficial.
“Studies have found consistently that loneliness is a significant risk factor for physical and mental illnesses and the trajectory of recovery,” she wrote in a column for SurvivorNet. “Therefore, it will be important that you surround yourself with individuals who care and support you throughout your treatment.”
That being said, it’s very important to know your limits on what you can handle during treatment.
“Going through treatment is a very vulnerable and emotionally exhausting experience,” she wrote. “Noticing what you have strength for and what is feeling like too much [is] extremely important to pay attention to as you navigate treatment.”
In a previous chat with SurvivorNet, psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik added that some cancer warriors may need to look beyond their existing relationships to find the support they need.
“Some people don’t need to go outside of their family and friends circle. They feel like they have enough support there,” Dr. Plutchik said. “But for people who feel like they need a little bit more, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional.”Seeking Support: Dr. Plutchik shares the first 3 things to do after a cancer diagnosis
Dr. Plutchik said it’s best to find a mental health professional with experience aiding people undergoing cancer treatment. “Make sure that the mental health professional that you work it is reaching out, with your consent, to the rest of your team, to the oncologist, to the surgeon,” she said. “It can also be helpful to reach out to family, friends, and any other caretakers that may be involved in the person’s treatment.”
Understanding Thyroid Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, “Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland,” which is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.
Dr. Scott Strome, a head and neck cancer surgeon who is currently the dean of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, and previous chair of head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, explained thyroid cancer in an earlier interview with SurvivorNet.
“We’re now able to detect thyroid disease, thyroid cancers, much earlier than we used to be able to,” Dr. Strome says. “We tend to see it predominantly in younger women, but it can occur in both men and women. In most cases, I tell my patients that, ‘Your thyroid cancer is a barnacle on the ship of life.'”
Dr. Strome suggests finding an experienced thyroid expert for treatment.
“Folks who have thyroid cancer, they need to go to a really experienced thyroid setting and have folks who really understand the disease. Those are for the most indolent type of thyroid cancers, called papillary,” he explained.
“Thyroid cancer is a pretty interesting disease, because papillary is a really indolent cancer. On the other end of the spectrum, you have what’s called anaplastic thyroid cancer, which may be one of (if not the) most aggressive cancers that we see. So it’s a whole spectrum of disease.”
Treatments for thyroid cancer can include surgery, hormone therapy, radioactive iodine, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer include the following:
- A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
- Swelling in the neck
- Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
- Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- A constant cough that is not due to a cold
“Most people have no discrete symptoms and the majority of cases now are found incidentally,” Dr. Allen Ho said in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “However, a sizable number of people may first discover their cancer when they feel a bump on their neck. Other possible late symptoms include problems swallowing, the sensation of something in their throat, neck compression when laying flat or voice changes.”
The good news is that many of these possible symptoms, including lumps in the thyroid, are both common and commonly benign, but it never hurts to ask your doctor.
Chances of cancer recovery increase significantly with early detection, so it’s important to address any warning signs of thyroid cancer, or any cancer for that matter, with a medical expert swiftly.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff