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Nicky Basta

Photo of Nicky Basta, Delta employee and Cancer survivor

Nicky Basta

CSA, International Airport Customer Service, Thyroid Cancer Survivor

My story begins about 10 years ago and it’s a story about hope and awareness. I went to see my doctor as I was having mood swings and always felt tired. I had always been very conscientious about my health. Every year I would get all my blood tests done and a visit to the gynecologist. This time my doctor also said I should get a thyroid scan.

The results were given to me immediately, stating that I should consult an endocrinologist for further explanation. That did not sound well. A friend suggested I see her doctor and when he saw the scan, he said that I had to do another test in order to define the nature of the nodule that was growing on my thyroid gland. The test was a needle aspiration in order to perform a biopsy. There is nothing pleasant in seeing someone stick a long needle in your neck, but if it has to be done, might as well get over with it. By the way, the procedure as horrible as it seems it is almost painless.

The tests showed that the nodule was 2cm. but they were unable to determine if it was a good or a bad nodule. The doctors decided that the only solution was to have surgery and remove the nodule and thyroid gland either entirely or partially. Since I was in no life-threatening situation, I was placed on a waitlist and as soon as they had an operating room available, the hospital would call me.

After about three weeks, I had gone on with my life and not really thinking about the surgery anymore as Christmas was just in a few days and my birthday on the Dec.26, however on Dec. 19, my phone rings while at work and the hospital wants me there by the next early morning. The station manager at that time and some of my colleagues were very supportive.

On Dec. 21 I had surgery and then after two days, I’m sent home. I could not move my neck or shoulders. Even eating and drinking was difficult and painful. Besides I had a cut on the base of my neck from part to part. I hoped that the scar would eventually go away but I knew it would probably take months if not years to absorb.

After a few weeks, I went to see my doctor and review the biopsy results together. The results showed that the nodule was, in fact, a tumor. I felt that the world was falling on me. Until that moment I had always been positive about my medical issue, but this had just become a terrible wake-up call. I was young and had to deal with a tumor.

My doctor told me all the options and since the cancer had grown inside my thyroid gland, there was no need to do any chemo or other types of therapy. However, I had to repeat all the necessary tests every three months for the first year and then every 5 months until I went back to the yearly checks.

In the meantime, my physical scar has healed and is almost invisible. My psychological scar is part of me but I chose to stay positive and raise awareness with my friends, making sure that they do all their necessary yearly tests.