Local woman Stacey Chatwin has recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and wants others to be aware of the possible signs to raise awareness.

Stacey discovered a feeling in her throat that would not subside over the course of a month.

“It felt as though I had something stuck in my throat, and it wouldn’t go down no matter how much I drank. I felt tired; my moods were all over the place. I’d feel like I was sweating.”

This prompted Stacey to seek an appointment with her doctor. Stacey had previously undergone blood tests to check her thyroid levels, all of which came back, showing no signs of a problem. Her throat was examined, and she was scheduled for an ultrasound on the same afternoon.

After receiving the results of the ultrasound, she had a thyroid biopsy. Stacey noted that this was exceedingly difficult. She had to keep completely still, not swallow, and hold her breathe for 10 seconds while the doctor took samples. It then took 7-10 days for her results to confirm she had tested positive for Papillary carcinoma, which is the most common thyroid cancer.

According to Cancer Australia, it is estimated that there will be 3,785 new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed in 2020. A large portion of them being female. The current estimate is 160 deaths from the disease with a 5-year survival rate of 97%. In 2016 it was the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Cancer Australia predicts that it will remain 9th during 2020 as well.

“I felt numb; my mind went into overdrive. The doctor said, ‘It’s the best cancer to have as it’s treatable.’ It means I can see my children grow up, spend time with my family and friends,” said Stacey.

Mrs Chatwin has met with her doctors, discussed her treatment and prognosis.

Just one week after this story first appeared in our September 16th print edition, Stacey underwent surgery and is now recovering. Stacey will be put on medication for the rest of her life to regulate the hormones the thyroid controls.

Stacey has shown great fortitude during the weeks leading up to this by continuing to go to work. She urges others to seek medical advice if they notice any changes in their body.

“It’s your body, and you know it best.”

There are many support groups for people who have been affected by cancer. Whether you have the disease or know someone who is suffering from it, one such organisation is Can Assist.

Photographed earlier this month prior to Stacey’s surgery: Here to help – Can Assist’s patient coordinator Jean Frost, Stacey Chatwin and Can Assist Branch President Geoff Frost

Can Assist is a state organisation that supports people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Yass branch of Can Assist provides financial aid towards patient’s treatment including imaging, travel, pharmaceuticals and radiation.

Yass Can Assist Branch President Geoff Frost said they’re proud of the fact 98% of their funds go to patients with cancer. A majority of that is for travel and pharmacy bills.

The Times spoke with Geoff and his wife Jean, who is also the patient coordinator of Yass Can Assist, about how to receive help. Jean noted that if you have cancer and require aid, you should contact the organisation.

“Can Assist can’t contact you first so if you require help, please reach out,” said Jean. “Family members and friends can reach out on your behalf, but ultimately the patient needs to indicate to us they want help before we can contact them.”

Proof of diagnosis and receipts are also required to receive financial aid.

Geoff said this year has been challenging because of the outbreak of COVID-19.

“A lot of our fundraising is from events, but events aren’t really possible at the moment with everything going on.”

They also receive a lot of support from local clubs such as the Yass Magpies, the Yass Roo’s and the Darts association as well as local businesses, however, COVID-19 has made it more difficult for Can Assist to receive money as usual.

Due to this, they have been trying to find alternative means of fundraising. Geoff mentioned raffles, a calendar which they are trying to produce, and the possibility of a mystery Christmas gift sale. Can Assist will also have a street stall this Saturday 19th of September in Yass.

All the money raised for can assist helps to take financial pressure of cancer patients. “Last time we checked Can Assist had given around $620,000 in aid over the past 16 to 17 years to about 340 patients,” Geoff noted.

If you would like to get involved in Can Assist, they are having their Annual General Meeting on the 1st of October at 7:30 pm.

By Ryan Betts