Two Diagnoses, Two Very Different Experiences

05 May, 2021

My name is Sharon Nagel. I am a survivor of two different cancers.

Cancer survivor Sharon Nagel
Sharon Nagel

I was diagnosed with the first cancer in 1979 when I was 23 years old. One morning I awoke with an egg-sized lump in my neck that turned out to be thyroid cancer. I was a single mother of two children under 5 years old and had no insurance. After two surgeries and countless medical bills, I had to file bankruptcy because I was unable to work for almost a year.

More recently, in 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage Ic ovarian cancer. Circumstances were much better this time in that I was only out of work for three weeks and I had insurance. 

I have always felt that life circumstances lead us to where we are supposed to be. I am now an Oncology Patient Navigator at the Carson Tahoe Cancer Resource Center! Here we provide many resources to our cancer patients, all of which are free of charge.

We have a lending library, massage therapy, exercise and yoga classes, support groups, cosmesis room. We also offer financial assistance, cottages for those who live far away and need lodging during treatment and/or testing, clinical trials, emotional support, and nutritional counseling.

Our facility setting is comfortable—much like being in your own home. We see patients in all stages of their journey from diagnosis through to survivorship.

If there had been a facility like this in Denver in 1979 my circumstances could have been much different. I now have the privilege of providing the kind of assistance that people in similar circumstances as myself 38 years ago might need.

This survivor story was originally published June 19, 2017.