Lying in the hospital bed, shaking, terrified of what the next 3 hours would entail, I started to think about the past few months: hospital visit after hospital visit, test after test, needle after needle. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. I didn’t feel right, and although I was forced to listen to doctors for the past 22 years of my life, it was my body, and this was the first time it was screaming to me that
something wasn’t right.
It all started in November, right around Thanksgiving. I had started having horrible chest pains, and I finally gave in and contacted a local heart doctor. I’ve had thyroid problems since birth, and I visited an endocrinologist twice a year. The last time I saw her, she didn’t show any concern for any issues with my thyroid, so it really didn’t cross my mind that my problems could be related. After visiting the heart doctor and going through a very thorough family history and personal medical history, he decided it was time to run some tests. I scheduled the tests he had ordered and left, not worried about what we had talked about since he didn’t seem like anything was truly wrong.
After the tests he ordered came back with absolutely no negative results, he started to ask about my thyroid condition. Long story short, he showed concern with my condition, so he ordered some more tests. Sure enough, those tests came back suspicious. I didn’t really understand what he was saying but he was so calm, I didn’t think I had any real reason to worry at first. Once we got more in depth with the result, however, I became increasingly paranoid. The last test he ordered was a biopsy, and because of my outright disgust for needles, I was definitely not happy about it. I was ordered back to my endocrinologist, and once she received my biopsy results, she realized there was a good chance I had thyroid cancer. The only thing to be done from that point was to have a total thyroidectomy. So, on March 17th, St. Patty’s Day, I went in for a total thyroidectomy, and
it changed my life forever.
Although I had thyroid problems prior to this, having your thyroid taken out creates all kinds of other problems as well. I have had to take a pill everyday since birth to replace the hormone my non-working thyroid failed to produce, so I guess I was already used to that part. The biggest issue now is trying to get my levels right so I feel better. It is a never-ending battle every day. I didn’t know how much my thyroid affected everything in my body until I really researched, but just this year alone, I’ve been to too many doctors telling me I am in optimal health when I’m really not at all. It’s just too easy for all the doctors to brush it off, because they don’t know what it’s like. Sure, they have the expertise, but until you’re in the shoes of someone who has been there, you have no real idea.
Thyroid cancer is known by a plethora of people as “the good cancer” or “the cancer you want to get if you do get cancer”. It is so irritating and upsetting to hear those words from the ignorant people who don’t know anything about it. Cancer is never good, it’s never fun, and it’s never something you should wish on anyone. Since I’ve had cancer, I will forever have a more complicated life. What was once a painless annual thyroid checkup is now annual thyroid checkups plus cancer checkups including several tests to make sure it hasn’t returned, never feeling perfectly normal, and always feeling tired and sick.
If you ever have any concerns about your body, please do yourself a favor and go visit a doctor. Even if it’s only for your peace of mind.
You never know when your life will change forever.
Don’t let your doctor tell you you’re fine if you feel like shit, because you know your body better than anyone. If something isn’t right, trust your gut. Thyroid cancer may not be as serious as most cancers, and may have a very high survival rate, but the problems you face after you have survived are still serious, and you still have to live with it every day. You’re never really cured; you keep fighting the never-ending battle daily. Yes, I am a survivor. The scar on my neck is my battle scar and the butterfly tattoo on my back is my reminder to stay strong even on my worst days. I look at them both every morning, remembering what I have been through. I’m proud to tell people my story. Thyroid cancer is a now huge part of me but it will never define me. 2015 may have kicked my ass, but I came back swinging in full force because I’m a warrior.
Featured image via Author