Bite Me Cancer: Learning about Thyroid Cancer | Teen Cancer Awareness Week

LWMJanFeb2015-smallfinal_Page_14It’s not unusual to establish goals for the New Year whether they are personal or professional, but let’s face it, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you really won’t be too successful in either the personal or business arenas. Awareness of new medical information or trends can be valuable for future reference. Why should our Loudoun Women readers care about Thyroid Cancer? It occurs about three times more often in women than in men and it is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the U.S.!

The thyroid is the largest endocrine gland in the body and is responsible for controlling how quickly the body uses energy, making protein and how sensitive the body is to other hormones. Thyroid Cancers (there are numerous types) can occur at any age, but the risk peaks earlier for women (who are most often in their 40s or 50s when diagnosed) than for men (who are usually in their 60s or 70s). Surprisingly, even children are being diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer now.

Thyroid Cancer is commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers. Nearly 2 out of 3 cases are found in people younger than 55 years of age. Risk factors include a diet low in iodine, exposure to radiation particularly as a child and hereditary conditions. Each type of thyroid cancer has its own risks and growth rates and some can spread to the lymph nodes, bones, lungs and beyond. About 2% of thyroid cancers occur in
children and teens which brings us to Bite Me Cancer®.

In April 2010, Nikki Ferraro, who was a 17 year old junior at Chantilly HS, was diagnosed with a rare form of Thyroid Cancer called medullary thyroid
cancer which had spread well beyond the thyroid and lymph nodes. Two weeks after diagnosis, Nikki organized a Relay for Life team for the American Cancer Society she named “Bite Me Cancer.” Her team raised nearly $30,000!

The team name together with Nikki’s commitment to fight her Thyroid Cancer diagnosis as well as support other teens faced with any type of cancer
diagnosis took root. Nikki engaged in many discussions with her parents begging them to let her have a foundation, and in the end she won. In September 2010, she and her parents established the Bite Me Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit charity dedicated to raising awareness of and research funds for Thyroid Cancer as well as helping teenagers who are battling cancer.

By Patricia D. Wirth
www.bitemecancer.org
info@bitemecancer.org

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