A Car Crash Saved the Life of a Woman with a Thymoma

It is very rare that one might say that a car accident saved their life – but Yolanda Carusciello, who lives in Brooklyn, can say just that. Of course, when Yolanda first got into the car crash in January 2022, she could not have known that it would change the course of her life. In fact, one might even say that her experience – which led to her thymoma diagnosis – saved her life. 

According to News 12: The Bronx, Yolanda was taken to the hospital after the crash to ensure that she was okay. At first, she says, she didn’t even want to go to the hospital, but the EMTs on scene told her that it would be a good idea to just get checked out. She conceded.

At NYU Langone Brooklyn, doctors performed some routine tests on Yolanda – and found something concerning: a thymoma, a rare tumor that affects the thymus gland. In her case, the doctors found the tumor right above Yolanda’s heart. 

Because many people with thymomas do not have symptoms, there are many patients who are unaware of their cancer until it has progressed. However, Yolanda’s early diagnosis allowed her to get treatment early. In April 2022, Yolanda underwent surgery. At that time, the doctors removed both the thymoma and a uterine tumor from Yolanda’s body. Although, moving forward, she will need to undergo radiation, she is thankful for her doctors, her support system, and the unusual situation which changed her life. 

What is a Thymoma?

Cedars-Sinai describes a thymoma as:

a type of cancer that affects the thymus, an organ located in between the lungs [that] is part of the lymphatic and immune systems. The thymus is where T-cells mature before they travel to the lymph nodes all over the body [to] fight off new illnesses from bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections.

Some past research has stated that a thymoma could be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). However, a more recent understanding of thymomas is that all thymomas are cancerous or could become cancerous. 

Thymomas occur in approximately 1-2 out of every 1 million people. Risk factors include being of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, having an autoimmune condition, or being aged 70+. The five year survival rate ranges from 90% for tumors caught early to 40% for those whose cancer has spread throughout the body. Symptoms associated with a thymoma can include:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • A cough which may produce blood
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Double vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Swelling and discoloration of the face, neck, and upper chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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