My father-in-law was a funny man. Once, on his birthday I asked, “Exactly what time were you born?” To which he replied, “I can’t remember—I was very young at the time.” Even when he didn’t intend on it, he was teaching us how to enjoy life. I’m so sad that my infant daughter never got the chance to meet him. One day he had a bit of hip pain, and the next he had stage-four cancer, with only a few months to live.Just before we actually lost him, I was visiting a friend. It was two weeks before her wedding and we were finally getting around to doing her makeup trial in preparation for her big day. I was eight months pregnant and I started to notice that my neck was feeling puffier on one side. Any woman who has gone through pregnancy can probably relate to my next thought which was, “Crap. I’ve officially gained weight everywhere!” Because I’ve always been told my tonsils were “huge,” I’ve gotten quite used to groping my neck and throat, constantly feeling for symmetry.When I felt a large lump in the center of my throat, nowhere near my tonsils, I instantly panicked. Having gone through such an intense situation with my father-in-law, it was only natural. But still, I had the voices of friends and family in my ears, “You’re such a worrywart. It’s probably nothing. Try to relax.” I climbed into bed with my husband and told him about what I’d found. He felt it and acknowledged that there was definitely something unusual there.Toward the end of my pregnancy, I was certainly very familiar with ultrasounds. But when my doctor ordered one for a different part of my body, specifically my thyroid, I wasn’t nearly as excited to see the images. And literally, moments after scheduling my ultrasound, my father-in-law left this world and took part of our hearts with him forever. I flew home for the funeral—my last trip before I was due to give birth. While home with my family, my doctor called to let me know he wanted to schedule a fine needle aspiration biopsy because the nodule on my thyroid was larger than 1 centimeter (in fact, it was almost 3!). In an odd coincidence, this doctor had thyroid cancer himself at the age of 24, so he was especially suspicious.This is the part where my mind went bananas. Did I have cancer? Would I die of the same disease that took my father-in-law? Would I get to know my unborn daughter? The FNA came up inconclusive so I had to wait three months before I could have another. During this time I felt so grateful for my baby girl, who at the time, couldn’t have known that she was saving me from insanity. Prepping myself for her arrival meant my mind didn’t have time to wonder why the medical team didn’t seem to think another biopsy was urgent—I had always been under the impression that a cancer prognosis was very dependent on acting swiftly.When I went in for my second biopsy, I had a child and was now one of the people watching my “heart walk around outside my body.” Because I was nursing, she accompanied my husband and I to the appointment. We opted for an additional experimental test to be run that will someday hopefully eliminate the need for surgery as a diagnostic test for the elusive, follicular form of thyroid cancer that they were suspicious of.The new endocrinologist I was seeing called to tell me that the experimental test results came back. There was a 60-100 percent chance that the mass was cancer, but the FNA still came back inconclusive. After months of waiting and remaining hopeful that the growth was benign, I was beginning to get really scared. And confused!Next thing I knew, I was having a partial thyroidectomy to remove the mass which was only on one lobe. If it wasn’t cancer, that would be the end of my journey. If it was, I’d need to go back for a completion thyroidectomy soon after. The biopsy of my tumor found that I had stage one papillary carcinoma, of the follicular variant. I would require a completion thyroidectomy, and would forever depend on levothyroxine to create synthetic hormone to make up for my lack of thyroid.With a 3-month-old baby at home, I found there truly was no time to let the full diagnosis sink in. I had an initial meltdown when my husband came home from work and also on the phone with my parents. But then I just had to put one foot in front of the other and keep on keepin’ on. With tremendous support from my mom, mother-in-law and amazing friends, I went into the next surgery feeling brave and triumphant that I had no choice but just to make it through.I had the good fortune of not requiring radioactive iodine for after treatment, but I did go through about three months of hair loss and exhaustion when working with my endocrinologists to get my dosage correct.I’m still early in my after care, and I don’t know what my future will bring. If I had a dollar for every doctor who told me this was “one of the best kinds of cancer to have” I’d be rich. If my haul was in coins, I’d love to swing it around my head and knock them all out in one fell swoop. Because cancer in any form is depressing, anxiety-inducing and perpetuates fear, no matter your prognosis. Even though I’m one of the lucky ones, cancer just sucks all around.I certainly didn’t have nearly as difficult a battle as so many women, men and children I have known in my life. But I do have a few bits of advice for anyone who is new to the diagnosis that I hope will help you march on.