30 Stories in 30 Days
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers and friends for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.
I went for a routine blood pressure check in December of 2000 and ended up on a journey I never expected. After checking my blood pressure, my primary physician at the time, who was very thorough, also checked my neck. He felt one side, then other, after which he started writing in my chart. When he finished, he took my right hand and placed it first on the middle, then either side of my neck. That’s when I first felt the lump I hadn’t even known was there. It was on the right side and I don’t know how I had missed it.
I went in for surgery to remove the right lobe of my thyroid gland on a Friday. My surgeon told me afterwards, that once they removed the right lobe of my thyroid gland, they closed me up but kept me under anesthesia while waiting for the pathology results. Once the surgeon got the results, they opened me back up and removed the rest of my thyroid gland. The next morning, my parents came into my hospital room, and broke the news. What we thought was a benign cyst turned out to be a malignant tumor. I had cancer. And I was scared.
I can’t imagine what they felt when the surgeon told them that I, their firstborn, had cancer. Nor can I imagine how hard it must have been for them to tell me. At that time, my Mom was an 11-year breast cancer survivor. Our family had been down the cancer road before and made it through. Now we were back on that road, but this time it was my turn.
I was discharged from the hospital the day after surgery and spent a little over a week at home recovering before going back to work. During that time. I received many phone calls, lots of love and encouragement. One friend said she didn’t think she could be as strong as I was. Funny, but I had never particularly thought of myself as strong.
One of my best friends asked me why I wasn’t panicking. I told her simply, my doctors hadn’t given me any reason to panic, so why should I?
A few weeks later I was admitted to the hospital for Radioactive Iodine therapy. A year after diagnosis and therapy, I went for my first whole body scan. I went to my endocrinologist’s office to get the results and I was nervous. The results were all I could hope for. A year after hearing the words, ” it’s malignant,” I was cancer free. Even after my diagnosis, scared as I was, I kept on living my life as normally as possible. There was no reason not to.
It’s now 16 and 1/2 years since my thyroid cancer diagnosis. 5 years ago, I married the love of my life. I was up front with him about my cancer while we were dating, and it didn’t faze him one bit! My life since being diagnosed with cancer is better than I could have hoped. I’m married to an amazing man, have wonderful friends, and coworkers as well. I don’t sweat the small stuff.
I like to say that after cancer, everything else is a cake walk. Now I can have my cake and eat it too!