Gabriel Elbaz

About three years ago, my primary care physician noticed enlarged thyroid nodules at my annual physical exam. I was sent to a head and neck specialist and received a neck ultrasound along with a biopsy. The ultrasound confirmed the presence of enlarged thyroid nodules, but the biopsy came back benign and I was told to return each year for monitoring.

Since I am a professional voice user—a teacher and a cantor—I was very stressed about the possibility of voice loss

Last May, my PCP noticed that the nodules had grown, and ordered another biopsy. This time it came back positive for papillary thyroid cancer. Many of my friends and various medical organizations within the Jewish community, as well as my endocrinologist, referred me to my surgeon with whom I have since developed a wonderful relationship. I thank him for being a wonderful messenger from God.

Before operating, my surgeon could not tell if a lobectomy would be sufficient or if a total thyroidectomy would be necessary. Since I am a professional voice user—a teacher and a cantor—I was very stressed about the possibility of voice loss, but I was assured that my hospital was at the forefront of intraoperative neural monitoring. Though I am still in the early stages of recovery (two months post-op), I am very grateful to be able to say that my voice has returned and no damage occurred to my vocal cords or the surrounding nerves during the total thyroidectomy I ultimately underwent.

This whole episode has reinforced to me the importance of taking a step back, slowing down a little bit, and paying attention to the messages my body is sending

In this fast paced, technologically advanced world, I believe we don’t often give enough thought to our health and the symptoms we experience. In addition to papillary thyroid cancer, I also have thyroiditis. This whole episode has reinforced to me the importance of taking a step back, slowing down a little bit, and paying attention to the messages my body is sending. It is so important to take the time to pay attention to your health and consult with doctors. Treat your body right so you can live a long and healthy life and achieve your goals!

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.