(WIBW) - Rebecca Lange's family were no strangers to thyroid cancer.
Her father had it at age 40, her older sister had it when she was 17 and her younger sister had a suspicious tumor, too.
The situation meant doctors were keeping a close eye on Rebecca, At 18-years old, days into her freshman year, Rebecca was diagnosed with it, too.
Though she says she wasn't really surprised, it was still a shock to hear it about yourself. Of course, she admits she also thought about how it was only the first week of school and she had a lot to do!
But if there's a bright spot among cancers, this cancer in the gland at the base of your throat is it. Dr. Alan Wynne of the Cotton-O'Neil Diabetes and Endocrinology Center in Topeka says thyroid cancer is different because it's generally easier to diagnose, easier to treat and it has a better prognosis than most other types of cancer.
Wynne says the most common symptom of thyroid cancer is feeling a solitary lump or bump, slightly below the Adam's apple on either side of the front of the neck, where your thyroid gland is located.
The bump could also spark some obstructive symptoms, such as trouble swallowing, shortness of breath or hoarseness.
Treatment usually involves a surgery to remove the lump, followed by a radioiodine pill, requiring a two to three day hospital stay because it produces some localized radioactivity. Wynne says it's usually a one-time treatment, to kill any remaining cells. Radiation and chemotherapy typically aren't needed.
Rebecca's situation followed the typical path. All that's left is a scar matching her sisters. Rebecca says it's something to proud of and an invitation to share her story so other people know to get checked.
Rebecca's history is unique. Most thyroid cancers do not run in familys. More than 37,000 people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year.
Rebecca is sharing her story as part of this year's Couture for Cancer event, an evening of fashion and decor benefiting the fight against cancer. It's from 4 to 7 pm, April 17th at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. Call 785-438-5607 for tickets.