HARRISONBURG -- Nikki Ferraro got cancer a three years ago, when she was just 17 years old. Now, she's a student at James Madison University, who is using her tough experience battling cancer to help others.
"I personally felt like there was nobody else going through it,” said Ferraro, “I was like I'm the only teenager going through it. That whole week after my surgery I was like I'm the only teenager, I feel like no one understands me."
Ferraro said many people don't realize thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the country. She said she's glad the doctors could catch hers before it spread too far, but she said she's still dealing with the side effects.
"The cancer was on the nerve of my right vocal chord so it was paralyzed, so after the surgery it sounded like I had laryngitis, and I was a singer so it was devastating to me."
It was a devastating experience that Ferraro's trying to turn positive. After she found out she had cancer, she joined Relay for Life and raised thousands of dollars for cancer research.
Now, she has started the foundation, Bite Me Cancer, to bring awareness to thyroid cancer. Plus, she said she's reaching out to young teens who have to go through treatment for this type of cancer.
"Being a teenager is so awkward already, especially middle school and high school. You're finding out who your friends are, who you want to be as an individual. It's awkward already, but to be told that you have cancer."
She said it can be tough to deal with something so serious at such a young age, so she hopes she can use her experience to help others.
Ferraro is now trying to raise $50,000 for cancer research. She said her organization has raised about half of the goal.
She created www.Bitemecancer.Org/ to get support for the cause.
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