The resiliency of Indian Hills' Erin Kuba
OTTUMWA, Iowa – The year is 2012, the month is May and the day the first; a day when a routine check-up was anything but for Erin Kuba.
“It's kinda weird, I left there with a possibility of knowing that it could be cancer and I just had a gut feeling that it was,” said Kuba.
Kuba's parents, Mike and Tammi, both have a hereditary condition called Hashimoto’s disease. The condition leads to an underactive thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of your neck. Doctor’s visits were already going to be a part of Erin's life but thyroid cancer was a shock.
“It's certainly something that you're never prepared for as a parent,” said Mike.
Only 14 years old and nearing the end of eighth grade, Kuba was ready to attack the disease.
“I remember her coming and knocking on my bedroom door and she's like mom we have got to be okay because I need you guys to be okay because I'm gonna be okay,” said Tammi. “She really brought strength to our family in the way that she handled it.”
“She's just views it as; you know what god gave it to me because he knew some other girl couldn't handle it,” said Mike. “She took that and ran with that.”
On May 12, Kuba surgically had her thyroid removed as well as the surrounding lymph nodes. As part of the treatment she also went through two treatments of radioactive iodine pills.
“Basically you go in there and a guy in a hazmat suit hands you these pills that are radioactive. You take them and you just have to be quarantined for about three days. And it’s supposed to kill all the thyroid tissue. So I did that which is the treatment along with surgery,” said Kuba.
All of this was just in time for the start of Cedar Rapids Jefferson's softball season which played its first game on May 22nd.
“It has always been my goal to be a five-year varsity starter. Obviously getting diagnosed, I knew that probably wasn't gonna happen,” said Kuba. “It took a few weeks to obviously recover from the surgery itself and get my medication regulated which was another big part of it after going from having an underactive one to not one at all.”
“It was rough. She had to get used to her body all over again,” said Mike.
Without a thyroid gland Kuba could have a surge of energy one day and then as she describes it feel like a zombie the next. Even so, she didn't let it stop her from playing five years of softball at Jefferson making the state tournament three years in a row.
“You know Tammi and I were just talking one night and we said you know what, 'she's never complained once about this whole process',” said Mike.
“Even though she was scared on the inside, she portrayed herself very strong and carried herself very well handled herself better than most kids, than most adults might handle it,” said Tammi.
“I look at it as each day give 100% of what you have, even if you don't feel 100%,” said Kuba.
A good mindset for what has been a five year journey.
Part two of Erin Kuba’s story can be found here.