Lindsey grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, graduating as part of the Cum Laude society, President of her class and captain of the Football Cheerleading squad. She graduated with a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Michigan and then received her Masters from New York University —a week after her best friend and love of her life, Michael, proposed. Six months later, in November 2002, she had swollen glands and after going to a doctor for a check-up, was formally diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Most often thyroid cancer is confined to the neck and can be easily removed with surgery. Unfortunately, Lindsey’s disease over the years metastasized across her entire body, including her bones, major organs and within the brain, and on February 3, 2014, she passed away at the age of 37. Over the course of the 11 years, she endured surgeries to the thyroid and brain, radioactive iodine radiation, stereotactic radiation (for brain tumors), radiation to the femur and multiple rounds of experimental chemotherapy. She continuously battled through the side effects of the radiations and chemotherapy, such as mouth sores, hair loss, joint aches, and skin rashes. Even at the very end, Lindsey continued to fight and demonstrated an indomitable spirit, unending optimism, and envious love for life. She faced every battle without ever complaining and stayed optimistic that the treatments would allow her more time to spend with her husband, her parents, her family and close friends.
Thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in both men and women. It is one of the few cancers on the rise, with a growth rate of about 6% a year. Most often thyroid cancer is confined to the neck and can be easily removed with surgery, however, advanced thyroid cancer is incurable.
Though effective treatments exist for patients with metastatic thyroid cancer, including surgery and radioactive iodine, these therapies are not without side effects and do not necessarily eradicate the disease. Having endured traditional avenues of treatment, Lindsey was enrolled in clinical trials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and the University of Pennsylvania, with the hope of finding the drug and/ or chemical “cocktail” that will stabilize, and possibly cure, her disease.
In 2012, we established the Thyroid Hope Foundation (www.thyroidhope.com), based on the message that with HOPE, anything is possible. Since 2008, our work has raised over $200,000 that supports research groups at the University of Pennsylvania, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center. Although this is exciting and more than we ever hoped for, we aren’t close to the cost of one clinical trial, which, at the University of Pennsylvania, costs over $800,000. And so we continue our mission to spread the word further, and raise even more money to find the cure.
It is believed that Lindsey had the cancer for many years before getting diagnosed; given how big her tumor was and that thyroid cancer is a slow-growing disease. If only she or a doctor checked her neck, we believe it could have been found earlier and possibly not spread all over her body and into her bones. Hence we need to educate the public to check their necks!
Lindsey was an amazing person who inspired everyone she met. She was the strongest, most caring, giving, smart, beautiful, funny, courageous and loving individual. She was a Pediatric Occupational Therapist who loved the beach, running on the boardwalk, reading a good book and spending time with her family and friends. Those of us who knew her miss her tremendously but feel so lucky to have been touched by this Angel in our lives. It is in Lindsey’s memory that we pursue this fight and keep HOPE alive for others dealing with this disease.
We need to continue to spread the word and raise money to ensure that we find a cure to prevent others from having to endure all that she did.