Everything Changes

I don’t often talk about my thyroid cancer story. I’m the author of a book on young adult cancer. I’m addicted to blogging about the 20 and 30-something cancer experience. And, I step behind podiums, microphones, and into radio studios to talk about sex, dating, work, finances, and family life in the midst of young adult cancer. But I focus so much on being young with cancer, that “young adult” almost seems more like my cancer type than papillary carcinoma.

I was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma when I was 27 years old. “You’re young, you’re a woman, you’ll do fine!” is what my doctors told me again and again. And it was true: I was young, a woman, and I did do fine, that is if fine means not dying. I was fine if you compared me to a patient with medullary thyroid cancer. I was fine if you compared me to a patient with pancreatic cancer. I was fine if you compared me to a patient worse off than I was. But I was not fine if I compared myself to the healthy young choreographer I was before 19 malignant lymph nodes took anchor in my neck.

My case of thyroid cancer isn’t typical. For many, many people, papillary thyroid cancer is a six-month ordeal. It is hard and scary but then they often move on; cancer becomes a past tense and does not recur. But I’m now 38 and have been wrestling with this disease for ten years. During this time I’ve lost a ton of weight and look scary skinny. I’ve seen my hair thin, my skin dry. I’ve seen my short-term memory deteriorate. My emotions have roller coastered, and my anxiety spiked. I’ve been shoved into scanners, had two doses of radioactive iodine treatment and two surgeries. And because I’m one of the rare patients who does not uptake radioactive iodine, I’m still living with tumors in me.

In the last ten years, I’ve adapted to and come to accept my new body and love my new mind. I’ve battled insurance companies and won. I’ve hunted down great doctors and tapped their brains for the best perspectives and opinions in the field. I’ve learned to think critically about medicine and my care. I’ve become an extraordinarily proactive patient.

I don’t know when my cancer will go away. It might never go away. But I’m leading a really normal life with papillary carcinoma still in me. Yes, I’m here to tell you it can be done. For me the biggest challenge has not been in fighting cancer. (I’m a pretty tough cookie and fighting comes naturally to me.) Instead my biggest challenge has been learning to live with it.

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Kairol is the author of the book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20’s and 30’s and the blog Everything Changes Blog.

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9 Responses to “Kairol Rosenthal’s Survivor Story”

  1. Wendy Schwartz Says:

    You are strength personified Kairol. I hope whatever you are up to these days you have peace and harmony!!! Hope someday we’ll meet again,

    Wendy

  2. Pthowe Says:

    I am curious what treatments you are doing to keep tumors at bay. My husband had papillary cancer which is now non avid. He is on an experimental drug and is not doing well. Like you it has been a challenge to have a healthy althelic positive guy have such sweeping change. He has the best attitude and I am hopefull something will be discovered to cure this ” Take Over” . Do u know of any immune therapy treatments available? Thanks for your comments . All the best ,


  3. […] Kairol Rosenthal’s Survivor Story | Thyroid Cancer … – I don’t often talk about my thyroid cancer story. I’m the author of a book on young adult cancer. I’m addicted to blogging about the 20 and 30-something cancer …… […]

  4. Annu Randhawa Says:

    Hi my name is Annu Randhawa .I live in India and am 55 years old and have papillary thyroid cancer.when I was diagnosed I was told that it was a micro cancer ,but after my surgery I was staged at T4a and had a lymph node positive,I had 100 millicuries of Radioactive Iodine.I felt fine before and after my diagnosis.Next month I have my check up next month .I have been reading a lot on treating cancer through nutrition.U could try eating apricot kernels which are very rich in Vitamin B 17 which is lethal .u can have foods which cause anti -angiogenesis like green tea broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, ginger , curium in , garlic , berries red and black grapes etc.U can try this as radioactive iodine doesn’t work for u .I am eating these foods and implore u to do the same .Take care and wish u the best of health and happiness

  5. Nadia Hohn Says:

    I am glad to have read this entry. I did not know too much about Kairol’s thyroid cancer experience. I have had read her and reviewed her book on my blog and had the pleasure of exchanging some e-mails with her. I am also a thyroid cancer survivor and I did not realize how unique everyone’s experience is. Thank you.

  6. Ginger Says:

    Your story sounds so familiar. I was diagnosed the first time in 2005 (at age 31) and the second time in 2008. I too am one of the few who cannot uptake radioactive iodine. I am a fighter…but I must say i miss my mind more than anything else. I hope you continue your fight with the passion you display in your writing.

  7. Heidi Jo Says:

    I have just been diagnosed on April 13,2011. I am scared and feel totally alone with this 😦


    1. Heidi – Sorry for the delay. You are NOT ALONE with this. Those dark feelings will pass. What helped me was reaching out to other cancer survivors and sharing my feelings and experiences with them. There are also support groups all over the country and groups online (even facebook) that are available. Please keep me posted on your progress. You will get through this!!!

  8. Jennifer Says:

    Keep fighting , not only am I a thyriod cancer survivor but I also work in the medical field . And I know one thing about medicine it’s called practice for a reason not perfection. They do not know everthing and we have the ability to help heal ourselves from within . Stay strong and happy my thoughts will be with you. I have desided i will no longer continue to get scans and expose myself to radiation .I am very allergic to the thyrogen injection s and refuse to go hypothyroid for two months agin. So I say live and let live!

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