Andre Cote - Portrait of an AYA Cancer Survivor
"Doctors don’t want to believe that someone as young as I was has cancer."
Andre Cote, 27, says his cancer diagnosis at 22 may have stunned his doctors as much as it did him.
"Doctors don’t want to believe that someone as young as I was has cancer," says Cote.
That’s not an uncommon phenomenon for young adults with cancer. Doctors sometimes rule out cancer as a possibility for seemingly healthy young adults.
Cote had lost his father to lung cancer when he was 17, so when he himself was diagnosed with thyroid cancer five years later, he knew it was serious. In fact, at first he was certain the cancer would kill him, as it had his father.
But Cote’s doctor reassured him that thyroid cancer is extremely responsive to treatment, with a cure rate of 99 percent if caught early. And Cote and his doctors hit his cancer hard. His treatment was rigorous, requiring him to take iodine and have two surgeries.
"As far as cancer goes, it’s like winning the lottery of cancer," he says.
But the cancer and subsequent treatment gave him new focus.
"Before that I wasn’t a great student. I didn’t put much effort into school," he says. Now, he says he wants to be a doctor to help people – perhaps even young adults with cancer.
Cote is a member of the Young Adult Cancer Advisory Board, a group dedicated to helping others with cancer feel less alone.
"It gave me a completely new perspective on my life," Cote says of his cancer journey. "It’s been a real gift."