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With help of teammates and family, MSU lacrosse player Jay Warren is battling thyroid cancer

April 27, 2016
<p>MSU packaging junior Jay Warren poses for a portrait on April 25, 2016 at&nbsp;Ralph Young Field.<br>&nbsp;</p>

MSU packaging junior Jay Warren poses for a portrait on April 25, 2016 at Ralph Young Field.

Photo by Sunny Dhanjal | and Sunndeep Dhanjal The State News

If you met him on the street or in class, you would never know anything is wrong because of his laid-back personality. But for the better part of the spring semester MSU packaging junior Jay Warren has been battling diffuse sclerosing, a rare form of papillary thyroid cancer.

Warren, a member of the MSU lacrosse team, said everything began with having night sweats in January and a simple visit to his primary care physician per his mother's request.

Amy Warren, Jay's mother, said the doctor ran various tests on him testing for things such as thyroid issues, diabetes and pneumonia — all those tests came back negative. After that, an X-ray of Jay's chest revealed his trachea was being pushed to the left.

Seeing Jay's trachea deviated to the left concerned the doctors that it could be thyroid-related, so they ordered an ultrasound, and discovered that his lymph nodes were swollen.

After a biopsy in early March, Jay finally got the news he feared — that he did in fact have papillary thyroid cancer.

“It was kind of just a surreal moment, I guess," Jay said. "Because the whole time going through, because it took about a month-and-a-half to go through the whole process of getting to the biopsy. So it’s kind of like the whole time, you already have in the back of your mind, you just think the worst to prepare for it, so the whole time I already knew I had cancer, so it’s just like, this confirmed that I actually do."

Upon finding out he had cancer, Jay said he started to worry because the doctor said based on the size of tumor, it had likely been there for a few years, and Jay feared it could have spread to his lungs. Fortunately, the doctor informed Jay the cancer had not spread to his lungs.

Jay said after the diagnosis he was able to see a surgeon as early as the next week to have a total thyroidectomy, during which the entire thyroid and the thyroid tissue are removed.

Within minutes of having surgery Amy said Jay was texting and FaceTiming with his teammates on the lacrosse team, letting them know he was alright and the surgery had gone well.

“Teammates are everything, and he wanted to get back right away to be with his teammates and still go to practices and go to games," Amy said. "Teammates throughout his whole life have been a very strong bond, you’re with these people quite a bit.”

Jay's teammates knew he needed their support and rallied behind him. After talking as a team, kinesiology senior Mark Tratt said he reached out to Jay to see if he would be alright with the team getting a sticker in his honor to put on their helmets. After Jay gave him the OK, Tratt and other members of the team found a way to make it happen.

"(We were) shocked," Tratt said. "Really as a college kid, you kind of have a sense of invincibility and you know that these types of things happen, you just don’t see it happening to someone so close to you, especially so young."

After just a few days in the hospital and a few days at home recovering, Jay made his way back to MSU, where he wanted everything to go back to normal.

Jay said he has never looked for any kind of special treatment and, in an effort to keep things as normal as possible, he didn't even tell his roommates what was happening until the day he left for his first surgery.

He said the toughest part of the process has been the mood swings he gets because of his hormonal imbalance.

"You get out of nowhere a wave of being extremely tired or just a quick mood swing out of nowhere — you’ll be really happy, really sad, you’ll get angry for no reason," Jay Warren said.

Amy said it is tough for her to have her son be back at school and not at home where she can be with him, but she understands he wants to be around friends and finish out the semester as he normally would.

“Everything will be OK," Amy said. "You have to be positive, you have to trust in your physicians and stay healthy and decrease stress as much as possible. That’s why staying at school is tough as a mom because you can’t make sure he eats healthy and just takes care of himself when he’s far away.”

Amy said she has tried to visit him every weekend to ensure she can spend as much time as possible with him as she can. Whether that means just bringing him something or taking out shopping or to dinner — it's whatever she can do.

Jay knows he is just beginning his battle and has another surgery scheduled for May 16, to remove the branch of lymph nodes going down the left side of his throat. After that, he will receive radioactive iodine treatment, during which he will take a radioactive pill that will kill all the cancer cells. Then he will undergo monthly blood work to get on the proper dosage for his hormone replacement and ensure the cancer does not return. 

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Tratt said the way Jay has handled the whole situation has been fantastic and that it really shows what kind of person he is. 

"I give Jay the world of credit for how he's handled himself throughout this entire process," Tratt said. "Cancer is an extremely difficult hurdle for anyone to overcome, let alone someone so young and in college. It's a testament to the type of person he is and the character."


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