I wanted to share my story to encourage everyone to take care of themselves! Especially full-time, working moms who put everyone/thing else first, like I did. I am a successful full-time physician with a husband and two young boys, 2 and 6 years old.
After having my second child I noticed I had an enlarged lymph node in my neck that seemed to change in size but never go away. Between having a second child, changing jobs and moving out of state to be closer to family, and then the onset of COVID, I waited almost 2 years to get myself checked out.
I was seen by an ENT who knew right away this lymph node was likely related to the so-called benign thyroid nodule that had been noted previously in the U.S. a couple years ago. I was shocked, I thought I was young and healthy, no real symptoms other than being a tired, busy, working mom and all my labs were normal. I was invincible, so I thought.
A CT scan and eventually a fine needle aspiration biopsy confirmed papillary thyroid cancer. The so-called “good cancer.” I am about 3 months from my total thyroidectomy and neck dissection for multiple lymph node metastasis and, as I write this, I am currently radioactive after radioactive iodine therapy just 24 hours ago. I’ve had some complications from the severity of my disease, including a paralyzed vocal cord leading to voice and mild swallowing issues and frozen shoulder.
This all has taught me to be so thankful for the small things in life that most of us take for granted. Things like being able to speak clearly and raise my voice if needed, or to swallow without actively thinking about it so you don’t choke. This experience has taught me to make my health a priority. And while it could always be worse, there truly is no such thing as a “good cancer.”