On a Scale of 1 to 10

Written by: Mia
June 9, 2022

On a Scale of 1 to 10

I wish that when doctors ask you to, “ Rate your pain from 1 to 10” the numbers go beyond ten because every time they asked me what my pain felt like it felt more like a 20. My name is Mia Thinnes and when I was six years old I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

It started when I was five years old, I had unexplainable migraines every day. My parents and I went to pediatricians, chiropractors, you name it, but no one had a solution. Then, mercifully, came the suggestion of an MRI scan. The first of many MRIs revealed a golf ball-sized tumor sitting at the base of my skull, mere inches away from my brain stem. My treatment consisted of 6 weeks of chemo and radiation in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic and 55 weeks of chemo in my home town Bismarck, ND. I had a port surgery when we arrived.

I missed the entire first half of first grade, and I would soon learn that nothing would be the same between me, my old friends, and my two sisters. I wasn’t faster than the other students anymore, not like I had been. Most days I went to school for half of the regular time. I didn’t go outside for recess, I wore a mask to school every day, and I was constantly prompted by the same student why I wore a hat all day.

I made it through elementary school with fewer friends than when I had started, but a better understanding of who the people supporting me were. I loved learning about new subjects and stories of adventure and mystery intrigued me. I had my port removed and until April of 2013, when my vision started to go blurry, life was all that I could make it. 

My mom took me to the eye doctor after I could no longer see the church song lyrics projected on the screen a few yards away from me. The doctor pronounced the word cataracts like “ Cats-are-act’s.” and I soon found myself in a hospital room again. I think that the worst part about the recovery was the tape we used to secure the eyepatch around my eye. Since the age of nine, I’ve been wearing glasses.

In my favorite stories, heroes are tested again and again by the antagonist to see if they will finally buckle under the pressure. I’m no hero, but my story is similar to theirs. In October 2014, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The doctors said that I was lucky because they caught it at an early stage, I would not need to have chemo or radiation, and they only needed to take one side out. Regardless of my parent’s wishes to take both sides of my thyroid out, they proceeded with the surgery. After spending an agonizing night in the hospital with my throat on fire we started to make our way home.

The telephone rang a shrill sound and informed us that we had to come back and have the other side taken out because it was also cancerous. With the doctors continuously apologizing, I was put under anesthesia and operated on for the second time. I woke up the second time with fire in my throat maximized to triple. I thought it ironic that no one ever asked me how I felt about the surgery.

 Every morning I wake up, take a medicine called Levothyroxine, and wait for a half-hour to eat breakfast. During this time I proceed through the regular routine of a seventeen-year-old going to high school and think to myself what things would be like if the doctors hadn’t found the tumor when I was six. 

Sometimes I feel like a child in a young woman’s body. I want to play with toys and run around outside all day without a care in the world. If I could get the time back I would go outside and play with my friends and sisters. Maybe then I wouldn’t be as lonely and shy as I am today, but those are just ifs. 

In a way, what happened to me is what made me become who I am today. I consider myself a fun-loving free spirit. I try my hardest to be kind to every individual I meet, and I have plans to go to college to become an elementary teacher. I find joy in storybooks, poetry, and have done some fiction writing myself. Nothing is more important to me than my family. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you describe the effect cancer had on you? Again the scale goes far beyond ten. Through a brain tumor diagnosis, chemo and radiation, port surgery cataracts, and two thyroid surgeries my whole life has had ups and downs, twists and turns, and sometimes stop and yield signs. 1000%, my experience with cancer has changed me and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thank you for reading my entry! I hope to hear from you soon.