If you were to ask me what was the hardest part of having thyroid cancer, it would be, being told I had thyroid cancer.
Today I’m sharing some of that journey. I’m thrilled to say it was 11 years ago, which I thank God for being my Great Physician, my strength through it and my friend who never left my side.
It started in January 2008, my doctor noticed a bump on my neck, said it was probably a cyst to be aspirated, usually not a big deal. In April I saw an Endocrinologist. The cyst was aspirated and biopsied and a week later I was given the news that I had to have my thyroid removed because of cancer.
Being told you have cancer is scary. I felt like it was all over for me. I kept a journal and had written, “Someone must have been praying for me because I did not feel scared for long.” What I didn’t know yet was the type I had was treatable with a good outlook. I had so many questions, like how could I have thyroid cancer when I’ve never had thyroid problems?
Next was the appointment with the surgeon to discuss the thyroidectomy. She was so thorough in explaining everything. We left there with complete peace. My surgery was June 27, 2008, and everything went exceptionality well. My surgeon was amazed at how well I was doing and I told her many were praying for me. Common side effects from the surgery include hoarseness, sore throat, difficulty eating and talking. I had none of this. Prayer is everything.
The hospital provided John with a recliner so he could spend the night with me. A friend suggested having him stay since I may not be able to talk. I could talk after the surgery but I was still glad John stayed with me. I was released the next day.
A week later the surgeon called with the news that my tumor was confined and lymph nodes were negative! Praise God! No spread!
When I received the diagnosis, I started researching. I asked my Endocrinologist questions. I joined an online support group, asking them questions. I think it’s good to learn, but it got overwhelming because of conflicting information. I really had to trust God was guiding me and giving me wisdom in some things. I switched doctors twice.
The treatment for the size tumor I had was a dose of RAI, Radioactive Iodine. First I stopped taking the thyroid hormone, went on a low iodine diet, have blood work to check levels. Once levels are ready, take the RAI, a week later have a whole body scan and more blood work.
The low iodine diet was difficult but we managed. The reason for this diet is to deplete the body of iodine prior to having the RAI. The dose of RAI is to destroy residual cancer cells after surgery.
After taking the dose it is recommended to go into isolation since the RAI could hurt someone’s good thyroid if they are exposed to it. There are variations so we decided 5 days. Five days of living alone in our bedroom. Five days of hearing our fur baby crying at the door wanting to be with me. Five days of John fixing my food and quickly handing it off to me through the doorway. Those 5 days seemed like 5 years! We take so much for granted!
Because of all the conflicting information, several times I was not going to proceed with any of it. I really had to learn to be strong and stand up to these doctors and their assistants. You really need to be an advocate for yourself when it comes to your health! By the end of October, I was seeing the 3rdEndocrinologist. She was referred to me by someone who knows her stuff about thyroid cancer and doctors. I liked this doctor immediately. One of the previous doctors seemed challenged and perturbed by my many questions. My new doctor welcomed all my questions and said she likes having an informed patient.
I wrote this in my journal: My prognosis is good and the rate of recurrence is low for the type I had. I see my Endo every 6 months for follow-ups, for 5 years. I believe God has healed me from any recurrences. I am forever grateful to those who prayed for me through all this! I truly believe in the power of prayer. Getting the diagnosis was the worst part of the whole thing but I seriously could not have made it without my faith in Jesus and my praying friends!
I’m not thankful I got cancer but I am thankful for how it changed my life, my attitude, my outlook, my faith.
That was 11 years ago! Having cancer taught me to appreciate all I have, the people I get to do life with, to enjoy life and laugh and most importantly I am closer to my Savior Jesus because He is everything. I see life as a precious gift, more than I did before I went through all this.
Get your necks checked!
Related Post: There is Hope When There is Cancer
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to offer medical advice or protocol. This post is my experience, my story concerning having thyroid cancer. Please seek advice with your physician. www.BarbaraAnnRepan.com