Louise Masin Sattler


I wrote this blog entry in January 2018, after my 7th anniversary of having thyroid cancer surgery: Lucky 7 – Life after a thyroid cancer diagnosis. I submit it as it really captures my experience succinctly and also (I hope) gives hope to others.

Is 7 really a lucky number? For me it is. Or at least I think it is. You see, I realized this week that the number seven has resonated with me throughout my thyroid cancer journey. Yet, only recently did I connect the dots as to why it is indeed “lucky” or at least significant.

7 AM. The time I arrived at the surgical unit for my operation.

Seven hours. The amount of time my awesome doctor performed surgery on me at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Seven days. That was the length of time the post-operative drains remained in my neck. (Seven minutes was all I had on the “patience meter” for living with said drains.)

Seven weeks. That was the time it took for me to get my voice sounding more like me and less like a prank phone caller.

Seven months. That was about the amount of time I needed to brave going out without a scarf around my neck to shield people from seeing my scar. (July is one hot month, and the seventh one!)

Seven years have passed since January 5, 2011 when I had my surgery and my life was forever changed. You may think this was a tantamount day filled with dread, but in reality many amazing things have happened from that day forward.

Seven minutes. The amount of time it takes for me to have an ultrasound of my neck during my annual visit and assess the mood of the radiology technician. I can tell within this time period if there is good news or an “uh-oh” in their eyes.

Seven times lucky was I in 2018 and now I hope I can make it 9 in 2020 as I start my annual evaluations. But this year is different. No trip to Johns Hopkins, as I have all other times. Instead, I am putting my health into the hands of strangers. As someone who is a wee bit superstitious I am not excited by the prospect of breaking my routine. But, I need to as it has been an odd year due to COVID 19. Yet, all will be well. I have faith and I have learned that during these unprecedented times you count your blessings even more, you learn to trust your medical team, and you follow their expert advice in order to navigate through these challenging times. You also have to put in “the work” to keep healthy by trying to adhere to good eating and exercise habits.

30 Stories in 30 Days

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. As part of that theme, we will post stories written by thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers and medical professionals for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.