Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thyroid Cancerversary!!

On February 23, 2002, I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer. That date is significant for me in a couple of ways. Not only is it the day I was diagnosed, but it is also my late brothers' birthday. My brother, Joe, was 16 when he passed away in 1986. I was 11. Back in 2002,  I took this as a bad sign, but 10 years later and cancer free, Feb 23rd is once again a good day!

I can't believe 10 years have passed! I was 25 years old and scared out of my mind. It all started with a lump on the back of my neck. It had been there for YEARS and nobody thought anything of it. Finally, I got a Dr who took notice and sent me for tests. I am glad he did! Since, it went undiagnosed for so long, it wasn't a simple surgery. Most cases of thyroid cancer require the removal of just the thyroid. I had 2 surgeries, lucky me. First was a marathon 13 hours of thyroid removal and a  right radical neck dissection. Sounds gross, but basically they had to get in there and get all the lymph nodes. Second surgery was for the other half of my neck.  In total, they removed 50+ lymph nodes with more than half testing positive for cancer. YIKES....I was left with a scar from ear to ear, and also lost my right vocal cord. That same year, I went through my first round of radioactive iodine. See, the "good" thing about thyroid cancer (in most cases)  is there is no chemo! It is a 3 day process (for me at least) Day 1, you go in for a tracer dose..Day 2, you go in for scans..the tracer dose from the day before should light up any areas affected. Day 3, is the big dose. They determine how much based on the scans from Day 2. I had no side effects at all from this. The only thing I had to do was stay away from people for a week or so, and not get too close to children. No big deal for me at all..The low iodine diet before hand was a killer though! In total I have had 2 treatments of radioactive iodine. For those familiar with amounts, I have had a total 409 millicuries. It is a pretty large amount. My initial scans also showed spots in my lungs, which are now clear! I go every 6 months for blood tests and have routine scans, xrays, etc.

How has my life changed from this??? Cancer is not a death sentence..I know I had a "good" cancer, and it is highly treatable, but it is still cancer, and that is scary enough. I still have a hard time with my scar. People tell me to get over it, and be proud of it..well I am a girl, and I am super self conscious! I own many turtlenecks and scarves. It is my security blanket, and I am sticking with it. I still get nervous every 6 months going to the Dr. You never know when or if it will creep back up on you. Back then, I never thought I would be here in 10 years..that is how little I knew about thyroid cancer! So YAY for me! 10 Years!!!


  1. Congratulations on beating the Big "C" - whatever form, whether "good" or "bad", it's still a big deal and I'm in awe of all who undergo it. Hope posting about it has helped you as a cathartic experience, and I'm grateful to you for letting me read it.

    To "lighter" things; perhaps now you'd like to have a visit to my blog to see how I make, mend and otherwise create the ColdhamCuddlies toys that I then try to sell in my shop at www.coldhmacuddlies.etsy.com. The blog is http://www.ColdhamCuddliescalling.blogspot.com and we'd love to have you comment and follow too.

    Good luck with your future life. Isobel

  2. TY Isobel!! I am a follower of your blog! Such adorable creations!

  3. Hey girl! I got the bags today and looove them. Thank you very much. I am really proud of you, for fighting the fight, being able share your story and for advocating for yourself. I am in the middle of a medical mystery and have told my doctors to look at certain things but they do ignore a lot too. I also have some scars and at times am self-conscious, but I remind myself that they are medical battle wounds.

    I'm so happy it's been 10 years for you. It's been over 10 years for my neighbor who survived breast cancer. Yay! You have so much to share with the world. Keep being your super self!

  4. Thanks Lauren!! I am happy to hear you love the bags!!

    It's hard to find a Dr that will take the time and listen to you! My Endo is the BEST..I love him and even though every time I see him he sends me for some test, I know it's just a precaution and he wants to make sure all the bases are covered. I am seeing a new primary Dr this week, so I hope we can be on the same page about things! Best of luck to you :)


    1. Yes it is very hard to find a doctor that will listen. They are always in a hurry. I'm glad you have one great doctor though. I hope your new primary Dr. is good too. Keep me posted!

  5. Congrats!! I know how scary cancer can be - both my husband and mother-in-law had stage 4 lymphoma - they are both doing well now. My husband is now 20 years cancer free.
    God bless!
    (PS - I am your newest follower through "Blogging Buddies" - please checkout my blog when you get a chance: www.godsgrowinggarden.blogspot.com

  6. Congrats to you! You certainly speak words of wisdom. I look forward to following your blog- and your creations are wonderful!

  7. Thank you Angie and Emily! I appreciate the kind comments!

  8. Congratulations! Cancer is about the scariest thing anyone could experience. You are a very courageous Woman. God Bless!
    BTW, I am now following you blog and love you Owls!