'Love Island's Demi Jones saved my life – I had thyroid cancer at 22'
When Love Island star, Demi Jones, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in May 2021, she documented her health journey on Instagram.
In one video, the 2020 contestant urged her followers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease – and check themselves for new lumps.
It was this clip that 22-year-old Skye-Loren West, from Gosport, came across while scrolling on the social media platform.
It inspired Skye-Loren to check for signs of the disease – and ultimately save her life.
She was later also diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thankfully, she caught it early, and her outlook is positive.
Skye-Loren, says: ‘I am someone who does everything I can to control and manage my health, so this should be a humble reminder that it can truly happen to anyone.
‘I don’t drink, smoke, or eat badly. I am very active, barely an adult, and do all the “right” things. Yet here I am.
‘There’s no point in me saying, “Why me?”. It should be, “Why not me?”‘
Skye-Loren, who works for Southampton City Council, remembers the moment she watched Demi’s video while on a family holiday in Turkey.
She says: ‘Demi was talking about her journey with thyroid cancer, where it started, and how she was diagnosed and treated.
‘She suggested checking your neck, which I hadn’t considered doing before. As women, we are taught to be so conscious of breast and cervical cancer, that we forget to check other areas of our bodies.
‘I thought I would give my neck a feel. Within 30 seconds, I ran my fingers over a bump near my collarbone. It felt like a very small oval. Almost egg-like. It moved whenever I pushed it around gently, and it didn’t hurt at all.’
Skye-Loren suffers from health anxiety, so, worried she might be overreacting, she decided to reach out to Demi Jones.
Within fifteen minutes the reality star had responded, reassuring Skye-Loren to get checked. She also gave her tips on what to ask the doctors for to speed up the process.
‘Based on her advice, I called my GP back in the UK straight away and booked an appointment for when I got home,’ Skye-Lore said.
‘My GP referred me to the Ear Nose and Throat department, where a specialist found I had more than one lump. He sent me to get an ultrasound and a biopsy, and I also had a camera down my throat and nose to check for more lumps.
‘The medic who did the ultrasound confirmed it looked like a cyst, so I was again reassured, but I still had no answers.’
Skye-Loren went on to have further investigations, including including another ultrasound, MRI, blood tests, a CT scan, and another biopsy over the course of six months.
‘My neck was full of ‘cystic’ structures that no one could explain, and my blood test results were normal,’ she says. ‘The biopsy was also inconclusive, but it did show abnormal cells and a modification on my thyroid.’
The only way for Skye-Loren to get conclusive answers was for her to have the right side of her thyroid and some lymph nodes removed to check for cancer. She had the procedure in March this year.
‘It was like all my worst fears might come true,’ Skye-Loren said.
‘As this was my first operation, I was terrified of everything. I thought I would die under the anaesthetic or bleed out.
‘I can’t thank the NHS staff enough, though. I was in and out before I knew it! There were no complications, and it went well.’
Sadly, Skye-Loren was diagnosed with stage one thyroid cancer a month later.
She says: ‘It very emotional and confusing. I burst into tears when the doctor said the word, but then I felt so relieved he said it was stage one.
‘I would cry again, and then stop. It was up-down-up-down.
‘I didn’t feel I had the right to be upset because this type of cancer is easily managed and I have caught it early.’
Skye-Loren, who is training to be a level four personal trainer, was also concerned about the impact that her diagnosis would have on ability to keep fit. Fitness is a huge passion of hers and she’s been training since she was 16.
She says: ‘The first thing I asked after my diagnosis was, “When can I go back to the gym?”
‘It sounds ridiculous, but it means so much to me. It’s the only part of my day when I don’t think about anything else. I am present, and I enjoy trying to be better than I was the day before.’
At the start of this month Skye-Loren had the remaining half of her thyroid and all the lymph nodes in her neck removed.
She says: ‘I think I’m discovering I’m stronger than I thought. It has made me realise how resilient my body really is.
‘My focus is strength and muscle retention, which I know will deplete slightly, but this whole process IS taking care of my health, just like training and eating well is.’
Now, her cancer journey is ongoing.
‘Next month, I will receive radioactive iodine, either in a pill or liquid form, which will zap away any remaining thyroid tissue,’ she says.
Skye-Loren is focused on moving forward and getting through the next few months. She is determined to stay positive while still being candid about the struggles she faces.
‘What has helped me most is having a large support network who have reassured me there is no right or wrong way to feel. Any emotion I feel that day is valid.
‘The main thing is to keep talking about it. If I clammed up, I think I would struggle.
‘It’s beautiful how many people you can connect with who are going through or have been through similar experiences.
‘Cancer is prevalent and scary, but people do survive it.
‘They are here, they went through their treatment, and life goes on. This is something I’ve had to tell myself repeatedly to get me through.’
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