Thyroid Cancer: How More And More Patients Are Surviving
- Reality TV star Demi Jones discovered a lump on her neck when she was 20, but it wasn’t until two years later she got it checked out and discovered she had thyroid cancer.
- She underwent two operations; one to remove the cancerous lump and another to entirely remove her thyroid.
- Thyroid cancer is fairly common, with the American Cancer Society estimating that almost 44,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year.
- The disease is around three times more likely to affect women than men.
- While thyroid cancer diagnoses have gone up in recent years, that’s not bad news. Doctors believe the rise is due to improved technology that is leading to earlier and better treatment.
In May, 2021, when she was 22, Jones received the life-altering news that she had thyroid cancer. She had noticed a lump in her neck when she was 20, but, as she was busy with school, thought little of it. It was only once her mother began insisting she see a doctor that she got it checked out.Read More
Doctors Are “Superheroes”
Jones, who starred on the UK version of the hit reality show Love Island, called Repanos and his colleagues “superheroes” for the work they do.
“I can never do enough to thank Mr Repanos for saving my life, cutting cancer out of me and leaving me with this beautiful scar that I am proud to show off,” Jones, who is now 23, told The Sun. “I cannot thank the (National Health Service) enough for their kindness and warmth throughout one of the scariest times in my life.”
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“Because I was diagnosed and treated during lockdown, the entire thing was extremely isolating and I couldn’t have any of my family with me whenever I went into the hospital. They made me feel so at ease and comfortable even though I was going through something really traumatic.”
Not only did Jones have surgery to remove the lump, she underwent a second operation to have her entire thyroid taken out. But in December, she was finally declared cancer free after a year she called “mentally and physically difficult.”
Now, Jones has a new mission: she said she has dedicated herself to becoming a cancer awareness advocate.
“All my love and strength goes out to those who continue to fight this awful disease,” she said.
“I Had A Talk With God – And I Knew I’d Be Okay”
A Family’s Battle
Unfortunately, Jones was not alone in her cancer battle. A few years before having her lump checked, her step-father Adrian, 46, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Doctors said he likely only had a year to live, but, happily, that turned out to be wrong. The family has been able to enjoy four more years together, and counting, after Adrian took part in an experimental clinical trial.
“We were shocked to be told they thought he had just 12 months initially. We all shut down and went into grief mode,” said Jones. “They got him into a clinical trial which he has responded really well to, and sometimes we forget that his cancer is terminal because he seems so healthy. The care has been exceptional.”
As for her own fight, it’s not quite over. Jones is still speaking with Repanos every three months and going for scans every year for the next 10 years. But for his help in saving her life and the lives of others, Jones has nominated the surgeon for The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards.
Jones Not Alone In Fighting Thyroid Cancer
Jones isn’t alone in battling thyroid cancer. Fellow reality star Tarek El Moussa was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013.
His thyroid cancer diagnosis came after an HGTV fan, who also happened to be a nurse, noticed a lump on El Moussa’s throat while watching him on television. She contacted the network, telling them what she’d seen. That same year, he was also diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Moussa, 40, is set to star in a new reality series, The Flipping El Moussas, with second wife Heather Rae El Moussa, 34.
Formerly, Tarek spent time on a show with a similar premise beside now ex-wife, Christina Haack, 38. on the hit reality show, Flip or Flop. Tarek and Christina now co-parent their two children, Taylor, 12, and Brayden. 7.
Things To Know About Thyroid Cancer
Spotting thyroid cancer can often be difficult. The American Cancer Society reports that symptoms may include a lump, swelling or pain in the neck, voice changes, trouble swallowing or breathing or even a constant cough.
“Most people have no discrete symptoms — the majority of cases now are found incidentally,” Dr. Allen Ho, a head and neck surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, tells 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.”
Thyroid cancer is fairly common, with the American Cancer Society estimating that almost 44,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. The disease is around three times more likely to affect women than men.
In recent years, the number of diagnosed cases has been going up, but that might be good news. Improvements to scan technology has made it more likely to pick up signs of the disease, leading to earlier and more effective treatment.
A Variety Of Treatments
However, surgery is often recommended as part of a course of action. These surgeries can range in severity, from removing a portion of the thyroid to removing the lymph nodes in the neck. While recovery from surgery can vary from person to person, most patients make a recovery in 10 days to two weeks.
Aside from surgery, there are a range of other possible treatments that a doctor might recommend. Those include hormone therapy that can suppress the growth of cancerous cells, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or using targeted drugs.