Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Meet the participants: Jesslyn Dagger - survivor

Today, day 3, we meet Jesslyn Dagger.

Jess was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer about two years ago when she was just 22. ‘What started as a fairly standard doctor's appointment for another, unrelated ailment revealed a tiny nodule on one of the lobes of my thyroid gland’ she says. ‘The biopsy results came back suspicious, so I opted to have the half of my thyroid with the nodule removed and tested. The results clearly pointed to cancer. I had the rest of my thyroid removed fourteen days later. Shortly after, I was given radioactive iodine to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue in my body.’

Fortunately for Jess the treatment worked and her recent tests have come back free of any signs of problems. Papillary thyroid cancer usually has a very good outlook. She now takes daily tablets to replace the natural functions of her missing thyroid gland. ‘My side effects have been minor. My hair has thinned a little, I don't always feel as sharp as I used to, and some days I would rather just stay in bed’ she says. ‘For the most part however, I feel very good, and am happy that the cancer was caught very early in its development.’

Jess has been in Second Life for three years. ‘Initially I came to SL looking for a virtual 3D chat room. I stayed because of the incredible level of freedom when it comes to being yourself and creating, well, everything. I found the SL survivors group on a random trip to the ACS island via an information sign. It took me quite a while to work up the courage to actually attend a meeting, but now I am very glad that I did.

She continues: ‘At first I was rather startled to be chosen as a participant for Makeover Magic. This past year was the first year I participated rather fully in the SL RFL weekend, walking a full lap during the survivor hour and assisting my real life family with donating just shy of $50 USD worth of track luminaries. Being a cancer survivor, I had discovered the support group and had started to go to a few support meetings. Even so, because I am so new to the ACS SL community I never expected to be chosen for anything, let alone a Second Life makeover. After the initial startle, apprehension kicked in. Being a veteran of SL and because the type of cancer I survived was "easy" to combat, I didn't feel like I deserved a makeover. After some self reflection and talking to a couple of my closest SL friends, I decided that I should not feel undeserving. I was nominated because someone felt that I was worth it, and I should honor their belief in me. Through their belief that I am worth some nice things now and then, I hope to regain some of the self confidence I lost when I heard the words "you have cancer" in late 2008.’

In real life, Jess recently moved to the southern US. ‘I miss my family in the northern US and especially my younger brother and they miss me. I visit them as often as I can manage. But becoming a survivor so young convinced me that I should make a move and spread my wings while I still can. It became a little easier to bear when I was finally able to bring my cat down to my new home in this year. He and I now live with my boyfriend of three years in a lovely suburban apartment.’

In SL her basic avatar is an anthropomorphic rabbit. ‘I love to create. Building all sorts of strange things in SL is what keeps me coming in world multiple times a week. As for what gets me out of bed in the morning, well ... I prefer to sleep in a bit if I'm allowed!’

Can't wait to see those pictures, Jess!

No comments:

Post a Comment