“ Trust yourself and the ones who love you to make the right choices. And ASK FOR HELP, this is not the time to be a hero and be in isolation.
Thea Linscott is a very active mAss Kicker. She is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Stupid Cancer, the premier Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer survivor organization. She has done an amazing job in helping to establish the branding for Stupid Cancer. Thea is currently a senior account supervisor at MSLGROUP in New York, NY. With over 13 years of public relations experience, she has been a consultant for numerous NY-based and national organizations. We met her at a conference a few years ago and were finally able to find some time to interview her for our website.
mK: Thanks for doing this Thea! How did you find out about your diagnosis?
TL: I was 16 years old and at the end of my sophomore year of high school. I was preparing for my annual dance recital, my summer job starting soon and convincing my dad to give me $5 for gas to drive around on weekends.
This quickly changed when the tumor surfaced on my back right shoulder. There was a number of doctor appointments, blank faces and no answers. It was a hematology / oncology visit to “rule out cancer” that we first heard the words chemotherapy, surgery and medaport.
“Ki-one non-Hodgkin lymphoma“ were the next words.
mK: What were your symptoms?
TL: It was actually my longtime mentor and dance studio owner Mrs. Scilla, who first noticed my change in energy, fatigue and demeanor. The tumor actually surfaced and was visible on my back. My parents knew we had to go to the experts to find out was wrong.
mK: How are you doing now?
TL: It has been 17 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. Although my long term side effects are the gift that keeps on giving, I am relatively healthy. I have spent most of my adult life making sure other cancer patients don’t find themselves alone when faced with the big “C” word. I work in public relations at an international agency and am the board chair for Stupid Cancer. I love to travel, cook, bake, and explore.
mK: Very cool! What motivates you?
TL: I have an inner drive that motivates me to connect, support and champion the people around me. My mother always has told me, “You have all of the tools inside of you.” It is important to remember that when going through everyday life.
I am also motivated by the amazing energy of the young adult cancer community – the patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses, healthcare advocates and non-profit partners. After this year’s CancerCon, one of our attendees went home to Birmingham, AL for an infusion. He shared, “I made it a point to just talk with each transplant patient waiting in clinic, to pick their brains and see how they were doing. I hope to bring a sense of loving community back home with me.” That is motivation at its finest.
mK: Who are your heroes?
TL: My parents first and foremost – they are a huge part of who I am today. From my very black and white logic to my spiritual holistic healing, they have always provided a sturdy foundation and unconditional love.
I recently lost a dear friend, Kelley Shea. She stays with me and reminds me of absolute grace and joy. We would meet up for a glass of wine and talk about the city, work, friends and family and even cancer sometimes. It did not define her. It was just part of her life. When she passed I was reminded of the saying “make lemonade out of lemons.” Kelley was actually the girl that did that. Every day. She is an amazing source of inspiration and I honor her with my volunteer work in the young adult community.
mK: Glad to see her spirit lives on through you! What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
TL:. Laugh: belly laughs with my friends about the silliest of things (we are just big kids masquerading as adults)
Cry: When life’s challenges are unfair or unresolved (let’s be honest… or a commercial about puppies, babies or weddings)
Angry: Running out of time, whether it be someone I care about in the young adult cancer community suffering or when life gives you too much all at once (no one said it was going to be easy.)
mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
TL: I once gave up my New York City life and moved to the country for three years. It was an interesting and scary move, but ultimately gave me:
Next time you see me ask about “Resurrection Dan” or “You ripped the hot tub out of the patio?”
mK: What is the toughest challenge a survivor faces?
TL: The unknown. Cancer robs you of control and safety. It’s the bad guy who reeks havoc without warning and regard. And then you sit there looking for answers, usually in isolation.
mK: You lose control of a lot of things, but you can control your response to the adversity. Here’s a weird question for ya… If you could pick any 3 people in the world to be marooned on an island with, who do you choose and why? What would you do?
TL: Michael Franti and Spearhead – my favorite band and live music makes everything better
Bobby Flay – he’s an excellent chef and problem solver
Martha Stewart – she’d make everything pretty and rig up some transportation to escape the island
I would throw one epic party until we were rescued, or let’s be honest, Martha gets us off the island.
mK: What is next on your agenda?
TL: I feel my impact of service through Stupid Cancer and I finally found a job that supports and challenges me. What’s next? Focusing on my personal life. Having an open heart to find the right love, time for self care and balance.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
TL: One day at a time. It’s going to be a crazy journey of unknowns. Trust yourself and the ones who love you to make the right choices. And ASK FOR HELP, this is not the time to be a hero and be in isolation.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
TL: I am not as put together as everyone thinks I am. I just know how to throw on some red lipstick and fake it ’till I make it. 😉
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
TL: I was one told by the late, great Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, “Miracles are your birthright.” I think it’s up to us to believe in miracles and visualize us whole again.
Thea Linscott: red lipstick wearer, Martha Stewart/Bobby Flay disciple, Michael Franti and Spearhead groupie, “patio-hot tub remover”, experienced PR professional, and driven young adult cancer advocate. Check out Stupid Cancer when you get the chance. Thanks for hanging out with us. We look forward to seeing what you do next!