Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Answer Is.....Thyroid Cancer + An Update on My Journey with Cancer

Did you know that the month of September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?  I'm guessing you probably don't know this, unless, like I, you have had thyroid cancer.  There is reason to give thyroid cancer some thought.  Did you know that thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in both men and women?  Since my diagnosis, I have met so many people that have had thyroid cancer and I find that alarming!!  The good news is that most types of thyroid cancer, while not an easy cancer to deal with, are very curable when found early, and especially when found in people under the age of 45 years.  I want to encourage you all to do your own "neck check" to look for unusual bumps or swelling in the area of your thyroid (which is just below your adams apple).  Here is a good process for doing your own neck check:

I feel lucky that one of my doctors noticed that my thyroid was enlarged over four years ago. At the time, I would have never thought to check my neck.  While it took four years to determine I had cancer, it appears that the cancer didn't spread anywhere and, since I am under the age of 45, I was considered to have stage one cancer. That brings me to how I am doing today.......

The last time I blogged about my thyroid cancer, I had just finished treatment and proclaimed that I had kicked cancer's butt.  Now, almost six months later, I still believe that I have kicked cancer's butt, however, it has not been the easiest of roads.  Like most thyroid cancer patients, I was initially told by my endocrinologist and surgeon that thyroid cancer is very curable and that I was lucky because it was caught early.  Those things were very true and wonderful but I translated that into thinking that I would get through my surgeries and treatment, be started on hormone replacement medication, start to feel normal again, and move on with my life with the exception of a lot more doctors appointments and tests in my future.  Over the last few months, I have realized that this is not the case.  The thing my doctors did not prepare me for was the tremendous impact that losing my thyroid would take on my body.  I did not realize that by taking synthetic thyroid hormones I would feel nothing like how I had felt when my own precious thyroid was working.  The thyroid gland controls our metabolism and is responsible for giving us the energy we need to function each day.....among a lot of other things.  The end result is that I am left with an increased amount of fatigue on an almost daily basis.  I am doing so much better than I was just a few months ago and, occasionally, I forget that I ever had cancer.  I still have a ways to go before I feel close to "normal".  I am learning to accept the "new" me and I still hope to feel even better in the next few months.  Sometimes, however, it is just hard and I find myself missing my "old" energetic self.

I would never choose to have cancer in a million years but I continue to be grateful for the lessons cancer has taught me:

Be Thankful For Each New Day 
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday......there is not a bad day of the week.  Each new day we have is a blessing and we should live it to the fullest.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
When I finished my cancer treatment and began to gain some energy, I could feel myself getting sucked right back into the daily grind of life.  It's kind of unavoidable when you have four boys to cart all over the place.  Cancer has kept me in check, though, because I say, "hey....I had cancer....this is not worth stressing over."Sometimes a little timeout in life can really help too:-)

My youngest experiencing timeout at OfficeMax:-)

Give to Others
I had so much support when I was going through treatment for my thyroid cancer and it reminded me of the importance of giving to others.  I feel blessed that I get to work in an Emergency Department because it gives me the opportunity to give to others every day that I work.  I don't take my role as a nurse for granted and I look for ways that I can make a difference in other's lives both inside and outside of work.  Cancer has given me a refreshed energy to be more compassionate and sympathetic to others.

Don't Take Anything for Granted
After realizing how much I took my healthy self for granted and the energy I used to have, I now see the importance of slowing down, enjoying my life, my family, my precious boys, and the beauty of the world around me.......and having a little fun while I'm at it!

Be a Good Friend to Someone
I have always valued my friendships but having cancer made me realize the importance of friendships.  I am blessed with some amazing friends and I want to remember to cherish these relationships.  A true friend is someone who is by your side in good times and bad.

True friends help even when it requires a little dirty work
Family is Important
Cancer didn't teach me this lesson because I've always known this and have been blessed to have an amazing family my whole life.  Cancer did make me realize, however, that having a close, loving family makes getting through tough times a whole lot easier.

I am still healing from this cancer and it has forever changed me, but in the long run.....I am going to be a better person for it.  At the end of this month,  I will have my first big tests to determine if this cancer is gone and then more tests will be done at the one year mark.  I would love it if you could send some good thoughts my way as I am a little anxious about this since thyroid cancer has a high recurrence rate but I'm thinking positive thoughts and looking forward to a healthy future!!!

So, for me........please check your necks!!


  1. Thanks for sharing how to check your neck. I never knew the method for checking for thyroid cancer.


  2. Wow! What an inspiring post! Having had a similar experience with thyroid cancer - I can totally see where you're coming from! Thanks for sharing how to check your neck, so useful! And good luck, with your test results!

    1. Hi Sammie,

      Thanks so much for the comment. I'm sorry you have had to go through this too. It is not the easiest of journeys but I think having a positive attitude with very supportive people surrounding you helps. Hope you are doing well!!! xoxo Test results came back good so I am pretty happy about that:-)

  3. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer just a couple of days ago and I haven't been through any treatment yet (except a thyroidectomy). I had a pretty large tumor (over 5 cm) and I know that decreases the chance of a good outcome, but I am hopeful that it hasn't spread. Won't know for sure till the test is done. Anyhow, I am tired of people telling me that it is ONLY thyroid cancer. It may be ONLY thyroid cancer, but I still am an emotional basketcase. Talking to other people who have suffered through this is very helpful. Thanks.

    1. I am so sorry you were diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is a big deal and it changes your life so I don't know why it gets downplayed so much. I encourage you to find some support groups because that will help tremendously. Please email me at wecare@annieandisabel.com and I'd be happy to share my experience and answer any questions you might have. Stay strong and keep your chin up!! xoxo

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