Kat Wojtylak was the Product Manager for Draper Therapies and had been on board with us since 2008. Her background has inspired the entire company to reach out, take notice and choose to make a difference. Here’s her story, as written by Kat herself.
Early on in 2006 my doctors started taking notice of a cyst in my neck, I referred to it as my little Adam’s apple. We had everything tested and it was more of a nuisance/blemish than anything else as deemed by all the negative results. Medication was administered to help make it shrink, but as it started to grow, I started to get concerned and treated it less as a joke. At this point, I had consciously decided to have it removed and even had to convince my surgeon that this must be done, he said that because nothing came up in our tests he normally didn’t remove them at 4.5cm big, but a nagging suspicion in my gut pushed me to take the next step.
A day before Thanksgiving of 2006, and two weeks before my 23rd birthday, was when my surgery was scheduled for. My family came to town to support me as I was living alone at the time. A week of down time was required after the surgery, but the night before I was supposed to head back to work, my surgeon called me. The biopsy results came in and I had papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. That night was the most difficult I’ve ever had to face. I received another surgery in February of 2007 to remove the rest of my thyroid and eventually went through radioactive iodine treatment a few months later.
In May of 2007 due to some specific circumstances in my life at the time, I picked up and moved to MA on a whim and started completely over. It was during this recovery period that I slowly started to fall back into music again which had always been a great passion of mine. The horse industry didn’t allow me to achieve balance in my life, which was where I had spent my last eight years, and I realized much later how important that really is. It was through lyrics and music that I feel like I found my soul again and all the positives that came with taking my job at Draper Knitting/Draper Therapies.
An artist who I listened to during that time, helping me to find myself was Spencer Bell. Spencer Bell was not alive at the time when I found his music because he had died from adrenal cancer at the same time I got diagnosed with my cancer. It was really through the efforts of his friends and family continuing his artistic legacy that allowed me to find him. What really what ties us even closer together is the fact that both him and I were caught up in endocrine cancers which truly affects a large scale of people. As I write this, I now know what a good place I’m in to be able to talk about not only what happened with me, but also to share the knowledge of other similar endocrine diseases that not only affect others, but dogs and horses as well.
I have been cancer free now going on over three years, and I bless each day that I am able to have living life to the fullest and cherishing the moments I have been given.