- What kind of thyroid cancer were you diagnosed with? How many years have you been a survivor?
I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer in October 2008. I believe that I became a cancer survivor the moment after I was given the diagnosis. That is when I started my fight. Some consider themselves cancer survivors once they become cancer-free, which for me was May 2009. After going through this battle, I see anyone diagnosed with cancer as an immediate survivor.
- September is thyroid cancer awareness month. What does that mean to you? Why do you think awareness is important? How do you spread awareness?
To me, thyroid cancer awareness month means joining forces to spread the word about prevention, early detection and the facts about thyroid cancer. One of the reasons I started my Thyroid Cancer Survivor blog was to spread awareness about thyroid cancer and to share my journey as a cancer survivor with others. Awareness is important because it gives people a better chance to check their neck and find thyroid cancer earlier.
- Many thyroid cancer patients have been told, “If you have to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get.” What do you think of that statement? When you’re told this, how do you respond?
When my doctor told me that I had papillary thyroid cancer, I was shocked. I remember him telling me that if I had the option to pick which cancer I would want, I would want thyroid cancer. At the time, it made me feel better. I didn’t know too much about thyroid cancer back then. I guess my doctor was trying to make me feel better and take some of the fear away. Now I know that cancer is cancer. One is not better or worse. No type of cancer should be minimized. I’ve also heard people refer to thyroid cancer as the little “c”. It’s not worth getting upset about. That only feeds those cancer cells. I usually smile and let them know cancer does not come in a “lite” version.
- Dear Thyroid is constantly working to dispel the myth that thyroid cancer is the good cancer or the easy cancer. What other myth would you like to dispel regarding thyroid cancer?
Some of us get to go through the radioactive iodine treatment, people asked me if I glowed in the dark. It was tempting to say yes, but the truth you don’t glow in the dark. That is a myth!
Another myth is that once the cancer treatment is over and you get a clean scan, you can put it behind you. Thyroid cancer survivors have to go back every six months the first few YEARS for scans and blood work. There is a 30% recurrence rate, so it is very important to stay on top of it. Thyroid cancer is never over. That is the myth. It is a lifelong battle because those sneaky thyroid cancer cells are always trying to multiply.
- What one thing would you tell the world about thyroid cancer?
This cancer journey has given me a new perspective and appreciation for life. I am so grateful to be a survivor.
- What advice would you give to a newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patient?
You are not alone. You will get through it. Learn all that you can about it (Tips for ThyCa Newbies and ThyCa is a good place to start). Be an advocate for your health. You are responsible for your health and to speak up. Never be afraid to ask the doctor a question. Talk about how you are feeling. Find people who have gone through it. Use it as an excuse to follow a dream and do something you have always wanted to do!
Dear Thyroid is a thyroid support community and literary brand. Our goal is to connect patients with each other, to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers, and to give all thyroid patients a voice. We come together as a united front to invoke change on behalf of thyroid patients worldwide. Thyroid patients are invited to submit letters to their thyroids, thyroid rants and raves, and other literary creations. Help us to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers by wearing your disease on your sleeve and by requesting one of our free awareness bands. Visit DearThyroid.org to learn more!