97%

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.


97%. That is the survival rate for thyroid cancer. It’s the first thing I looked up after my diagnosis. I felt like something inside me shattered. I told myself I could live with that because, statistically speaking, I would be okay.

However, my parents had a different reaction to the news. This was one of the few times they had been in the same room since I was 13 and one of the only times they agreed on anything. I saw the fear in their eyes, expecting to see their fear mirrored in mine. Within minutes, my father found the best doctor in Chicago specializing in thyroidectomies, while my mother stared at me and held back tears, longing for me to expose my feelings - any feelings. That’s not what I did. Numbness overtook my body, and I looked at my diagnosis through rational eyes. I knew if I could focus on the objective numbers and statistics, I could avoid the whirlwind of emotions that I was feeling.

After three nights alone in a hospital miles away from home and two fresh incisions to my neck, I finally woke up in my bed. I put on my favorite dress and my newest accessory, a white bandage, and went to school. Quickly, I learned my parents weren’t alone in their desire for emotions. Whispers and curious gazes followed me...

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