Uncategorized


  

Thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers are fun, right? Unfortunately not; they deeply affect us as patients and our families, indelibly leaving an imprint on our minds, bodies and souls. None of it is easy. If we’re going to bring awareness to this disease, we have to come together as a family. Our collective voices have the power to invoke change. Because the holidays are a time of celebration with the people we love and a time to reflect, what better way to ignite change, and move our stories forward, oh and have a laugh along the way, than to connect with each other?

Questions from Dear Thyroid:

1)       Have the holidays and your experience of them changed since you’ve been diagnosed?  I was diagnosed a year ago.  I’ve now had a chance to experience all of the holidays over the past year since the diagnosis.  I have found that my attitude has changed to an “attitude of gratitude” on a deeper level since I was diagnosed with having thyroid cancer.  Being able to spend time with friends and family during the holidays really is a gift.  I don’t take it for granted anymore.  At Thanksgiving we go around the table and share what we are grateful for one by one.  The top things on my list were “surviving cancer” and “family that supported and loved me through my journey.”

2)       What is your favorite holiday food/dish from childhood?  What is your favorite dish now? (Did you have to change your diet at all since being diagnosed?)  My favorite holiday food from childhood was mashed potatoes.  Now it’s changed to stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and string bean casserole (during Thanksgiving).  I like the sides better than the turkey.  Oh and pumpkin pie is one of my all time favorite desserts anytime of year.

I did have to alter my diet to a LID (low-iodine diet) to prepare for the RAI (radio active iodine) treatment.  The good news is that it was not during a holiday and I’m thankful for it!

3)       Off the top of your head, is there one comment from friends or family that sticks out in your mind as a what-were-they-thinking kind of thing that brought your disease front and center for everyone at the holiday function to hear about?  Nothing comes to mind for this one.  I’m very close with my family, so everyone knew that I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer during the holidays last year.  This year they all knew that I was a cancer survivor.  There are certainly tons of “what-were-they-thinking” things said during holiday dinners, but that’s as much a part of the holidays as overeating.

4)       How do you get through the stress of the holidays, paired with a disease? What are your coping strategies?  I focus on being grateful for all of the blessings.  We all have a choice of what we spend time thinking about, so I give power to the good thoughts.  It’s easy to feel pity for myself or negative about life at times, but that just adds to the stress.  I talk about how I feel with the people that are closest to me.  Verbally processing it with someone else always helps relieve the stress and put things back into perspective for me.

5)       Do you feel the need to enlighten and educate your loved ones about your disease when you get together for holidays, as people are often curious about our illnesses?  If so, how do you educate them?  This usually happens in side conversations if someones asks me.  I don’t have the need to just talk about it when we’re together for the holidays.  However, they have become supporters of my thyroid cancer survivor blog.

6)       Has your disease ever showed up at the wrong time on a holiday and ruined the day or moment?  My voice has been affected since the thyroidectomy.  Over time, my speaking voice is pretty much back to normal, but when I talk loudly or try to sing, it is very noticable.  It is upsetting to me.  I am looking into some options to strengthen my voice.

7)       Have you thought about submitting a letter to Dear Thyroid? If so, would your letter be a love letter or a hate letter? Would it be to your thyroid or from your thyroid?  Of course I have!  I could write many letters including a love letter, hate letter both to and from my thyroid.  I’m still on the thyroid cancer survivor “journey” and will be for the rest of my life.  So as I think about it, I believe that all of the different thyroid cancer phases and experiences have given me reasons to write a variety of Dear Thyroid letters.

8)       If you could tell the world one thing about thyroid disease (or thyroid cancer) that you feel they don’t understand, what would it be?  Thyroid cancer is cancer.  Through my experience, I was so surprised at how many people minimized thyroid cancer by calling it the “little C” instead of the “big C” or compared it to other cancers.  It made me feel like my cancer wasn’t good enough.  I was even told that if I had to have cancer, this was the “best kind of cancer” to have because it is so treatable.  I have learned that cancer is cancer.  

Education and information about thyroid cancer will help.  People need to understand more about thyroid cancer, early detection, symptoms and treatment. I don’t think many people realize the impact that it has on the life of the person diagnosed with cancer.  So it does not help to minimize it to the person that was just diagnosed.  The treatment and mortality rate might be different with certain kind of cancers, but it does not mean that the person diagnosed with cancer feels any different.  We are still human.  We all have the same feelings in common.  We all need support, love, compassion and positive motivation in our lives.  I’m thankful to have people that have given me these things.  I started my thyroid cancer survivor blog to give back, promote awareness and information about thyroid cancer and give everyone touched by cancer a common place to connect.

9)       What is the greatest misconception regarding thyroid disease and thyroid cancer?  Many people don’t think you can die from thyroid cancer. I also found that people believe once the thyroid is removed, the cancer is gone.  The fact is you can die from it and it can come back even if after a thyroidectomy.

10)    What is the stupidest thing someone has said to you regarding your illness that, to this day, still makes you laugh or makes you angry? Some people seriously asked me if I glowed in the dark after my radio active iodine treatment.  That one still makes me laugh. 🙂

Dear Thyroid is a literary thyroid support community and blog. Thyroid patients are invited to submit Dear Thyroid letters; love letters and hate letters, among other thyroid literary things, such as Thyrants, Thygraphs, Thykus, Thyetry and Thysongs, etc. Our goals are for all of us as a community of patients to connect with each other and our diseases, and to bring awareness to thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers, we need and deserve a face and a voice. For our non-literary crew, we have monthly Flickr pools. Recently, we launched Dear Thyroid Local Meet Ups for offline support. Dear Thyroid Forums are forthcoming in December.

Advertisements

Knowledge is power!  Below are some websites I have found to be helpful.  They have good information about the thyroid, thyroid cancer, radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, low-iodine diet (LID) and other thyroid cancer related topics. 

   

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association http://www.thyca.org/  If you’re looking for yummy LID recipes be sure to visit Thyca Low Iodine Cookbook 

 

Thyroid Cancer Songs  http://www.thyroidcancersongs.com/index.html  These fun songs are sure to lift the spirit and remind people with thyroid cancer that they are not alone.

 

Thyroid Cancer Site http://thyroidcancersite.com

 

American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org 

 

Relay for Life http://tinyurl.com/jhurelay4life

 

 American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists http://www.aace.com

 

American Thyroid Association  http://www.thyroid.org 

 

 http://www.thyroid.org/patients/brochures/ThyroidCancer_brochure.pdfhttp://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/thyroid  

 

http://www.mythyroid.com/thyroidcancer.html

 

http://www.cap.org/apps/docs/reference/myBiopsy/papillary_thyroid_cancer.html

 

http://www.hormone.org The Hormone Foundation 

  

http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=5437#recover Life after thyroid cancer 

 

http://www.thyroid-cancer.net Johns Hopkins Thyroid Cancer Center  

http://www.thyroid-info.com Unbiased News, Books and Support 

 

http://www.dearthyroid.org Literary thyroid support community 

  

http://checkyourneck.com  Light of Life Foundation 

 

http://twitter.com/tcancersurvivor  If you’re on twitter, follow me! 

If you have helpful thyroid cancer sites to add, please post them in the comment section.  I will add them to this blog after reviewing them. 

 

Thanks in advance!

Almost a year ago, I was told that I had papillary thyroid cancer.  I will never forget that day.  A few months later I had my thyroid removed.  A couple months after that I had to prepare for RAI treatment by going on LID for 18 days.  After a couple months I went back and had bloodwork which brought back good news and the cancer was gone!  So now it’s a few weeks later and I realize that I’m just beginning to process the experience.  It’s too much to wrap my head around at once.  Today for no reason the thought popped into my mind, “I had cancer!”  It brought up a lot of fear and then I felt my heart start to beat a little faster.  I took a deep breath in…1-2-3-4-5…and out…1-2-3-4-5.  Then I thought, “I’m a cancer survivor!” I felt a calmness wash over me.  All is well in my world.  Grateful to be alive, healthy and a survivor today. 

l_4453b20bfc2a4ffbacca98654507b61b

anything-is-possible

What ANYTHING will YOU make possible?

 

believe

Believe it and Acheive it!

 

be-the-change

 What change will you be in the world today?

 

thoughts-become-things 

Are you giving your energy to the good thoughts?

 

i-can-be

What “Only as…” will you add?

“The results came back and it’s papillary thyroid cancer…” was all I heard. My doctor kept talking on the phone, but I got stuck in the moment. My mind was frozen in time. I tried not to move, breathe or think because then it would become real. I heard him say cancer and just sat there in disbelief. I was blown away. And then a calmness came over me. It came from deep within. And I knew that this was another gift that I was given to learn or teach another lesson. For I did not come this far and beat all of the odds to have it all end at age 35. This was part of the beginning of the rest of my “living” life on earth. My Higher Power only gives me as much as I can handle at one time, so I was ready to accept the experience.

Then reality set in and I felt the fear rush over me.  “It’s papillary thyroid cancer!  What? I have cancer?”  I felt scared, confused, angry and sad all at the same time. I knew that I had to pull myself back together. I was at work and sitting in the atrium outside of the office praying to get through the day. I did not want to be there. I wanted to drive home, jump into bed and hide for several days. I did not want to deal with this.  I did not want to have cancer! 

I didn’t know how to deal with almost anything just a few years ago. I ran from my feelings for most of my life.  I used to be the eternal victim.  All of the bad things happend to me.  It was always the end of the world regardless of how small or big the actual life event seemed to be.   Things were different now.  I had changed for the better.  I realized that I had a choice of how to handle this diagnosis.  To my surprise, I began to accept it.

Focusing on the fear got me no where. There is no benefit in thinking negative – ever. It only causes me to lose focus, breathe shallow, get a tight chest, feel anxious and overwhelmed. So I decided to focus on faith and think positive to the best of my ability. I started with gratitiude. It was easy to look back and see how blessed I was to have even gotten the diagnosis. I had no side effects from the thyroid cancer. The nodule has been in my neck for years. My blood work always came back normal. But as a precaution, my doctor had me get a scan every few years, just to be safe. The last test came back questionable and I followed up with a biopsy. I am so grateful that it was found and treated. The past few months, I have been focusing on gratitude and in turn it has helped me so much. There is so much to be grateful for in all of our lives.

What are you grateful for today?

s81139815790_2832263_1938784

Growing up, going to the doctor for our annual physical exam was taken seriously in my family.  Besides having high cholesterol, I was a healthy kid.  As I got older, I remember my doctor making comments about how my neck looked a little thick.  It seemed to change a bit in size and looked puffy in the front at times.  Dr. Malinow always checked my thyroid levels as part of the lab work during my physicals and it always came back normal.  But every year when I went back, Dr. Malinow made sure my thyroid levels were added to the lab work.  He used to say that he would rather be safe than sorry. 

In 1999, Even though the lab work came back normal, Dr. Malinow went with his intuition once again.  But this time he sent me for a thyroid sonogram.  When the results came back, there was a very small nodule on my thyroid.  Thyroid Nodule 1999 It is very common to have nodules in the thyroid and based on the shape and what he could see there was no need to do anything more than watch it.  So every few years, Dr. Malinow sent me back for a thyroid sonogram “just to be safe.”  Each time it came back and the nodule was the same size and shape.  

In 2007 after the thyroid sonogram results came back Dr. Malinow noticed a change in the shape of the nodule.  It was probably nothing, but he wanted to be “safe instead of sorry” and recommended that I go see an Endocrinologist.  I took his advice and didn’t think anything of it. 

It took about three months before the Endrocrinologist has an appointment available.  So I went on living my life and totally forgot about the nodule.  It wasn’t until a few months later when I was in the office of my new Endocrinologist, Dr. Madoff that I gave it any thought. 

Dr. Madoff looked over the thyroid sonogram and compared the notes to the notes from the previous years.  Then he said that he wanted me to go have a fine needle aspiration biopsy.  I thought, “What? Did he just say BIOPSY?!!”  I must have looked like a deer frozen by headlights.  Time slowed down.  He continued talking but I couldn’t hear anything.  I just saw his lips moving.  I kept thinking, “Biopsy goes with CANCER!!!  Do I have cancer?!!! What is going on here? Did he say biopsy?”  Then I took a deep breath.

I calmed down enough to ask him for more information about the nodule and the biopsy procedure.  He assured me that 95% of all nodules are non-malignant. That made me feel better.  But deep down in my gut, I knew that I was going to be in the 5% category.  Call it thyroid intuition, but I knew that it was cancer.  This was one thing that I did not want to be right about at all.