Archive for the ‘Thyroid Cancer’ Category

What is Follicular Thyroid Cancer? Thyroid Health Implications

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Thyroid cancer, of any type, can be a life changing health complication and has become increasingly more common in recent years. For many thyroid sufferers, when thyroid cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate is quite high and often does not pose life threatening health complications. If you have been diagnose with follicular thyroid cancer, it is important to become familiar with not only your treatment but also what this type of thyroid cancer is and how it differs from other forms of cancer.

Follicular thyroid cancer, while not the most common type of thyroid cancer, is quite progressive and, when diagnosed with it, can be the one type of cancer that can lead to life threatening complications should any arise. When you have a diagnosis of follicular thyroid cancer, therefore, you will want to be sure that you are monitoring this type of cancer more closely than what other patients, with different types of thyroid cancer, may be monitored.

Tumors associated with follicular thyroid cancer often become vascularized and can then invade other parts of the thyroid gland, even spreading to other parts of the body by way of the cardiovascular system. When diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer, therefore, you will want to be sure you are getting regular testing to determine what other risks for cancer you may have. When the complication of metastasis develops, the greatest risk seems to occur in the lungs and lymph nodes so these are the areas that need to be the most closely watched.

When diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer, your doctor may initially recommend that you have only the area of your thyroid removed where the cancer has developed. However, because follicular thyroid cancer is the most progressive type of cancer, it is often considered most healthy to simply remove the entire thyroid gland and then begin radiation therapy accordingly. In the long term, this may pose the least possible health risk for recurring cancer.

In an age where medical technology and medicine has advanced, many more adults are being diagnosed with thyroid disorders, including thyroid cancer. If you have been diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer, it is important to speak with your doctor about the progressive nature of this malignancy, what long term benefits you can get from aggressive surgery, and how to monitor for a possible spread of disease.

Sources: Thyroid Cancer: A Guide for Patients, by D. Van Nostrand, pp. 89-93.

What to Expect During a Thyroid Biopsy

Monday, August 18th, 2014

There are two different types of Thyroid Biopsies that your doctor may order. The most common is called a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA), the second is called a Core Needle Biopsy (CNB).

Both are done as an outpatient and only takes a few minutes. Your doctor may order one or the other depending on what they are looking for. Thyroid biopsies are used to determine cancer as well as other problems. If you have any nodules in or around your Thyroid, your doctor may order a biopsy to check for cancer in the nodules.

Before a Thyroid Biopsy your doctor may order an ultrasound of your neck, this will help the radiologist find the nodule or part of the thyroid your doctor wants the biopsy done on. Ultrasounds are painless and are usually completed in just a few minutes.

On the day of your biopsy you will not need to do anything differently than usual. The procedure usually takes less than thirty minutes, but you will need someone to go with you and drive you home. This procedure is usually done at a Radiologists office with a local anesthetic. You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and brought into a room with an ultrasound machine. You be asked to lie on the bed with a small pillow under the back of your neck. You will have to raise your chin so that your neck is more exposed. The Radiologist will have an assistant in the room to help get supplies while doing the biopsy.

You will be given an injection of Lidocaine into the area that’s going to be biopsied, which does burn when injected but numbs the area relatively fast. An ultrasound is often used during the biopsy as a guide to help the radiologist find where to insert the needle and take the sample. During a FNA a small needle is inserted into the Thyroid or nodule and a small amount is extracted and put on glass slides so they can be examined. The needle may be inserted several times to get a large enough sample.

During a Core Needle Biopsy (CNB) a small incision about an inch long, will be made and a biopsy needle will be inserted through the incision to get a sample of the thyroid. Several samples in different areas of the thyroid may be taken through the incision. Stitches are not usually needed to close the incision as it is so small.

After the procedure, the radiologists assistant will have you lie there with a small bag of ice on your neck for a few minutes. If you are feeling good after a few minutes, and there is no excess bleeding they will apply a small bandage to the area, give you another bag of ice and you are sent home.

You can expect the area to be sore for a few days, an over the counter pain medicine like Tylenol will help. Your doctor should have the results ready for you in about a week. A small amount of bruising, swelling and tenderness are the most common side effects.

Ways to Manage Your Thyroid Disease

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Symptoms of thyroid disease can mimic other disorders and often go undiagnosed. My journey to diagnosis began with a trip to the eye doctor when I began to experience severe sensitivity to light. Recognizing this as a symptom of thyroid disease, my optometrist sent me for an ultrasound of my neck. They found a nodule and told me to have my doctor keep an eye on it. Several years later, I began experiencing hair loss, mood swings, weight fluctuations and forgetfulness. After testing me for everything from a hormone problem to a brain tumor, my doctor finally listened to me and ordered a TSH test. This tests your thyroid levels to see if you have a thyroid condition. Knowing about the nodule helped us to decide to do a thyroid biopsy when my test showed that I was hypothyroid. Though it is an uncommon occurrence, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A thyroidectomy, removal of my thyroid, and radioactive iodine treatments followed. This left me with no thyroid which is as hypothyroid as one can be.

Following surgery, I was prescribed synthroid, calcium supplements and blood pressure medication to ease the symptoms. I assumed the synthroid would manage any symptoms and looked forward to feeling normal again. What my endocrinologist didn’t tell me was that many of the symptoms I had been experiencing would never go away or that I would face a whole new batch that I hadn’t had before. As a six year thyroid cancer survivor, I have found many things that help alleviate the symptoms of hypothyroidism and have learned the importance of taking care of myself. If you have recently experienced the removal of your thyroid or have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my experiences could help you learn to live well with a thyroid disorder.

Will I gain weight?
Weight Gain seems to be the biggest concern of many who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. In my personal experience, I gained weight quickly following surgery but lost it rapidly once I was established in my synthroid regimen. Since that time, I find that my weight fluctuates drastically, sometimes on a daily basis. Water retention has been an ongoing problem since I lost my thyroid and a water pill helped me ease this problem. I also find that my appetite is inconsistent. I can go for weeks without ever feeling truly hungry and often have to remind myself that I need to eat. This causes my body to go into starvation mode and I have belly weight because of it. In order to combat this I eat mini-meals frequently through the day. I don’t feel overly full and I get the nutrition my body needs. It also appears to boost my metabolism and I feel hungry on my own. Vitamins can also help you get the nutrients your body needs. This will help both those with no appetites and those with overeating problems. As a thyroid patient, you should talk to your doctor before taking any medication because it can interfere with your thyroid treatments. Even some multivitamins can weaken the effectiveness of synthroid or other medications. Let your doctor help you chose one that is right for you.

Why do I feel so tired?
From the moment I developed symptoms, I was plagued by bouts of exhaustion. I still have days of sluggishness and always tire easily. I do this when my TSH levels are at their best, so I am not certain I will ever be at full force again. There are a few things that help though. First and foremost, mention your fatigue to your doctor. If your thyroid levels are off, you cannot combat the tiredness. Second, if you also have feelings of sadness or mood swings, you may also be suffering depression. It is common in those with thyroid disease. Read more about that here. If your doctor has done all they can and you still feel tired, you should consider a change in your diet. I found that a diet rich in iron, protein and calcium helps me feel more energetic. Make sure you are eating enough and stay away from fast food and overly processed foods. I also found that a sublingual B12 supplement gave me much needed energy. Make sure you get the “sublingual” as they dissolve under your tongue and absorb quickly. Moderate exercise may help you as well. Start with just 10-15 minutes a day and see how much better you will feel.

I am still struggling with hypothyroidism and these tips will by no means cure your symptoms, but they can make them more manageable. Weight changes, mood swings, fatigue, coldness and even aches and pains may be an extension of your thyroid disease. But, they may often be caused by something else. Try to find a physician who listens to your concerns. Always inform them of any symptoms you have. If you feel they are part of another problem, be persistent in asking for additional tests. The best thing you can do is to take excellent care of yourself. Eat well, sleep well and take time to relax. Thyroid disease is a part of your life but it does not have to control it.

Additional Resources
American Cancer Society thyroid information
About.com Excellent thyroid resource

Total Thyroidectomy: Making the Decision to Have Your Thyroid Removed

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Having a total thyroidectomy done to remove your thyroid can sound very scary, and rightly so. It is a big decision that will affect your health for the rest of your life, but one that is often necessary and beneficial. Certain thyroid conditions or diseases, such as thyroid cancer, painful thyroiditis, goiter, hyperthyroidism caused by a nodule, or others, are sometimes best treated by removing your thyroid and then taking thyroid hormone replacement medication for the rest of your life.

Why I Decided to Have My Thyroid Removed. In my case, the decision to have a total thyroidectomy done was not made quickly or lightly, but became one of necessity. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and had been very sick for four and a half years before it was recommended that I have my thyroid removed. My Hashimoto’s had not taken a normal course of just leading to hypothyroidism, but instead took a horrific course of swinging back and forth between hypothyroid, euthyroid, and hyperthyroid. I’ve had severe phases of hyperthyroidism, called Hashitoxicosis, that has put me in the hospital twice. With the second phase, I even developed Graves Disease antibodies, which technically means I had both Hashimoto’s and Graves for a while, though it was not really true Graves Disease because the Graves antibodies went away.

After the second phase of Hashitoxicosis, it was decided that it would be best to kill off my thyroid with Radioactive Iodine Treatment as soon as my body went hyperthyroid again. We thought this would happen quickly, but six months passed and my body was staying borderline hypothyroid to euthyroid and I was staying sick. That’s when my regular doctor said she didn’t think we should wait any longer, but should move forward with a thyroidectomy instead. I agreed and talked to my endocrinologist about it.

My endocrinologist also agreed and wanted to take it one step further to also doing thyroid ablation (a different form of Radioactive Iodine Treatment) on the small amount of thyroid tissue that would be left to protect my parathyroids after my thyroid was removed. The ablation would be done to make sure there was no chance of me having another phase of Hashitoxicosis, causing severe hyperthyroidism again. I agreed with the treatment plan that my endocrinologist wanted to go with and made a consultation appointment with a surgeon experienced in doing thyroidectomies.

I was comfortable with the surgeon and chose to go forward with having a thyroidectomy done. I am currently in the post-op recovery stage and am very hopeful that after recovery, ablation, and the thyroid hormone replacement medication adjustment phase, my health, and life, will be much better.

My Total Thyroidectomy Recommendation. The decision to have a total thyroidectomy done is a big one that should not be taken lightly, but may very well be the best treatment for your thyroid disease or condition. If you have decided to have your thyroid removed, I highly recommend that you find a great thyroid surgeon. I truly believe that having a great surgeon is one of the most important factors involved in the thyroidectomy and your recovery going well. For tips on finding a great thyroid surgeon, you can read my article Thyroidectomy – Choosing a Thyroid Surgeon.

Related Content:

Thyroidectomy – Preparing for Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid Nodules Symptoms and Treatments

Monday, August 18th, 2014

What is meant by thyroid nodules is fluid filled lumps. These are of course, on your thyroid. And most of these are harmless, meaning they don’t contain cancer cells. They get troublesome if they grow into your windpipe. When that happens, you will have difficulty eating since swallowing becomes very difficult.

The treatment you will receive for your thyroid nodule all depends upon what kind of nodule you have. The common symptoms of thyroid nodules are being able to feel them, and also there is going to be an obvious swollen neck.

Some of the thyroid nodules put out too much thyroxine. Thyroxine is a hormone that we have which is put out by your thyroid gland. When there is an overproduction of thyroxine present, you could experience such things as, (1) feeling anxious and nervous, (2) weight loss without even trying, and (3) heartbeats are not regular.

If, on the rare chance that a nodule does contain cancer cells, there would be symptoms such as, (1) rapid growth of nodule, (2) trouble swallowing or with breathing,and (3) lymph nodes in the jaw or neck are really big in size.

Thyroid nodules are often caused sometimes by a lack of iodine in the diet. Other related thyroid problems may also cause these things to occur. Hypothyroidism which is an underactive thyroid, or Hashimoto’s disease, are two other common causes.

Sometimes genetics play roles in the lack of thyroid stimulating hormones being produced.

Treating the thyroid nodule will depend on what type of nodule you have. There are several options available.

One of the things doctors might do is wait and see. If a biopsy of the nodule proves to be negative, then your physician may choose to watch it. Another biopsy may need to be done later if the nodule grows in size.

Levoxyl and Synthroid are two kinds of thyroid drug therapies taken orally. These drugs will help the pituitary gland in the brain to put out less TSH. The drugs may or may not shrink your nodules.

If your nodule is of the hyperfunctioning adenomas or multinodular goiter types, it is likely that a radioactive iodine may be used. This treatment has been very effective in the past and has caused the nodules to become greatly reduced in their size.

They can do surgery if the nodules show malignancy. This is usually where a thyroidectomy is performed, which means removal of the thyroid gland. They may take some of the thyroid, or part of the thyroid depending on the circumstances. Once you have a thyroidectomy, you’ll need medications to replace the thyroid hormone for a lifetime.

Thyroid Gland Removal Surgery & Impact on Glaucoma

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Thyroid disorders are common among women and become increasingly more common when there is a familial history or marked other metabolic disorders. If you are a woman diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, and if you require thyroid surgery, it is important to become familiar with the secondary health complications that may arise as you age.

For many thyroid patients, the complications of secondary health risks are typically not associated with the thyroid disorder but can become complicated by it. For many older women, especially after undergoing surgical removal of the thyroid, there is a risk for developing glaucoma at a much faster pace.

Because thyroid disorders often cause a complication with cardiovascular health, it is not uncommon to find there is a rise in intraocular eye pressure, temporarily, in those older adults who have a complication associated with thyroid disorder. The rise of intraocular eye pressure, while seeming to be temporary at first, may lead to more permanent complications that will require glaucoma treatment.

If you have had your thyroid removed, it is important to ask your ophthalmologist about the testing for glaucoma. In many cases, as you age, your doctor will ask about prior thyroid conditions but, in some cases, there may be a mistake in checking your prior history and, as a result, an opportunity to test for glaucoma may be missed. It is important, therefore, that you find the right opportunity to get tested and then tested regularly.

Testing of glaucoma is relatively simple and, if you have glaucoma after your thyroid surgery, treatment will typically consist of eye drop therapy. It is important, therefore, that you get the treatment and follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment while also maintaining your thyroid condition. The key to your optimal health lies in the ability to manage both conditions and to find an ophthalmologist as well as an endocrinologist who can effectively provide the relief you need.

When living with a thyroid disorder, it is important to manage the secondary health complications that can arise. If you are suffering from thyroid complications, and if you have had your thyroid gland removed, be sure to closely monitor your vision and eye health as it is not uncommon to develop glaucoma later in life.

Sources: Surgery of the Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands, by Daniel Oertli

Thyroid Cancer in Women Rises Dramatically

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Health issues that affect only women, or mostly women, often do not get the intense scrutiny and research as those that affect both men and women equally. That’s not a bash, it’s just a fact of life. So I try to stay diligent in reading and watching news about new or continuing possible health threats to women. This can be challenging, but I’ve found it’s best to be your own advocate and educator. The newest alert is related to Thyroid Cancer.

As an overall health threat, Thyroid Cancer is not usually considered high on anyone’s list. However, it can be deadly and difficult to detect in the early stages. The most concerning statistic is that studies have shown a dramatic increase in the incidence of Thyroid Cancer in women – according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (http://wcco.com/health/thyroid.cancer.women.2.272382.html). In fact, it’s the fastest growing type of cancer in the United States.

Perhaps the most frustrating fact is that this was announced in 2006. It is now 2010 and still no one in the medical or scientific community seems to have a clue as to why this is happening. Unfortunately, women’s health issues often do not get the attention they deserve. However, as this health issue reaches a more mainstream audience, more attention and advocacy is taking place.

Locally here in Rhode Island, a former employee of one of our television stations, Lisa Purcell, discovered in the fall of 2008 that she had Thyroid Cancer. Purcell went through the treatment, and is now a vocal advocate. (http://www2.turnto10.com/jar/lifestyles/health_med_fit/article/health_check_thyroid_cancer/30028/)

The symptoms can be vague. Purcell felt fatigued, but as a busy mom and career woman she brushed it aside. That is until her doctor discovered a lump in her neck. Purcell received the usual treatment of surgery plus radioactive iodine therapy. Purcell is fully recovered now but must stay on a maintenance medication. She works hard at being an advocate, raising awareness and funds for research.

After her experience, Purcell knew she wanted to take action and she discovered the Light of Life Foundation. She has teamed up with the Light of Life Foundation and The American Cancer Society to raise awareness and funds for research.

Unfortunately, as an additional concern, according to the American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/docroot/nws/content/nws_1_1x_thyroid_cancer_and_breast_cancer_linked_in_women.asp?sitearea=NWS&viewmode=print&) women with Thyroid Cancer have a significant increase in the risk for Breast Cancer. Researchers do know that it is likely related to the radioactive iodine used in curing Thyroid Cancer. Data was taken from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Database to assist with the study.

There is speculation that radiation from x-rays might be a contributing factor in Thyroid Cancer. I find that interesting and likely possible. I know that when I go to the dentist, I am covered with a heavy, thick, lead apron that covers all my vital parts. I do feel protected.

However, women have been screened from a relatively early age and yearly, with radiation (x-rays) – for breast cancer. Is any part of the woman’s body protected during those x-rays? No. I have stood, for about the past 25 years, nearly naked, my breasts (first one then the other) squashed between two transparent plates, and x-rayed over and over without any kind of protection at all.

I would like to see an “apron” of some design developed to protect the rest of a woman’s body, including her neck region, while she is undergoing breast x-rays. Meanwhile, please tell every woman you know to have her doctor check her neck for lumps on a routine visit. Do not be discouraged by a possible brush-off. It’s your body and your health. Having the doctor check your neck is easy and non-invasive.

Thyroid Cancer in Men

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Years ago, my husband and I only linked problems with your thyroid to weight, never having a clue that thyroid problems can control your entire body. Two years ago, my very active, never stopping for anything husband, started to feel tired and exhausted all the time. After several trips to the doctor and a lot of blood work, they could not find anything wrong with him. So he continued to take his vitamins but added some herbal ones to try and get his energy back. Nothing seemed to work. As the months went by he became weaker and weaker. Walking to the mailbox was an exhausting trip for him. He was seeing his doctor about twice a week to try and determine what was wrong. By this point he had so much blood work done that his veins were beginning to collapse. Still nothing could be found causing him to deteriorate. The doctor even had blood work done to determine if he had cancer. All blood work came back negative.

We were lucky that his doctor is a very persistent lady. She was trying everything she could think of to figure out what was wrong, but to no avail. Tests were ordered for every possible disease she linked his symptoms to. She contacted her colleagues to get their viewpoints on his condition. There were times they thought they found the cause, prescribed medicine for it, but that did not work. The doctor ordered several thyroid panels, all of which never showed any problems with his thyroid. He had been put in the local hospital a couple of times, but they could never find anything wrong with him.

Meanwhile, my husband got to the point where he could not even get out of bed. The stress from all this was taking a toll on both of us. In my heart, I knew my husband was slowly leaving us for reasons unknown. He eventually went on medical leave from his job so I had to continue to work. The hardest thing was getting up every morning and leaving him not knowing if he could manage by himself. We were blessed with good friends and family who helped me with things around our home, but also through prayers. We were all determined that we were not going to loose him.

Then one day the doctor called me at work and said she was having him admitted to a different hospital in another town where they had more specialists. His attending doctor at the hospital told us that my husband was a very sick man and would not leave the hospital until they knew what was wrong. That was refreshing to hear since most insurance companies want you out of the hospital as quickly as possible. His attending doctor had all kinds of specialists lined up to look at my husband. His illness had affected every part of his body, from his heart to the lungs, his kidneys, liver, nerves and memory. He became like an Alzheimer patient not being able to remember anything. I would get up every morning about 5:00 a.m. to be at the hospital when the doctors made their rounds so I could know what was going on. I would stay for a few hours, leave there, go to work for a few hours, then back to the hospital until 11:00 or 12:00 at night. I would go home, get a couple hours of sleep, then start all over. This went on for 9 days. Each day would involve blood work and tests. Then on the 8th day as they were doing another scan of his heart and lungs, they scanned too high and went up his throat area. There it was, a tumor on his thyroid. They scheduled surgery the following week to remove the tumor and left thyroid. The trip to the doctors office to get the results of the surgery was frightening. When a doctor says “I have good news and I have bad”, you know the next words you hear will be that “C” word. The results, the tumor was benign, but they found 3 cancer cells in the left thyroid. The doctor felt that if cancer was in one side it would be in the other. The following week they did surgery again to remove the right side and found 2 more cancer cells there.

Thirty days later they treated him with a one-time dose radiation pill. They began him on synthroid to regulate his thyroid. Because the cancer took such a toll on his body, he now has diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, none of which he had prior to the cancer. Now 2 years later and lots of ups and downs, he is on his way to recovery.

Thyroid cancer is one of those cancers most people have never heard of, but is also one that once the glands are removed your chances of the cancer returning is very slim. To be on the safe side, my husband continues to see the cancer doctor on a regular basis. We have learned through this that your body depends on your thyroid to keep it going. The thyroid needs to be regulated or your body can just shut down. We constantly recommend to friends and family who have similar symptoms as my husband did, to be persistent and see their doctor and request thyroid panels be done.

Cancer, regardless of what kind, has a horrible effect on both the patient and their loved ones, and detected early may mean the difference between life and death.

Side Effects of Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Thyroid cancer is one of the more treatable cancers. I am grateful for this fact, as both my mother and myself were diagnosed and treated for the cancer. Her bout with thyroid cancer occurred over thirty years ago. Mine was just two years ago.

There are some reports that there may be genetic links to thyroid cancer, making some suspect I may have inherited the predisposition to the disease from my mother. Yet, for me, there could be other contributing factors. According to studies, those who were exposed to radiation treatment for childhood cancer, have a greater risk for thyroid cancer. Over thirty years before my thyroid cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer of the olfactory nerve. Treatment for that included removal of the tumor, and six weeks of radiation.

Several years after treatment for cancer of the olfactory nerve I was given a clean bill of health. I was about twenty-four years old at the time of the diagnosis. It would be another twenty-four plus years before my second experience with the dreaded C word would take place.

Both my mother and sister had their thyroids removed years ago, and each take daily thyroid replacement medication. This involves taking a pill each morning, for the rest of their lives. Unlike my mother and myself, my sister’s thyroid was not cancerous. Because of their history with thyroid problems, I always had my thyroid checked during my routine annual medical examine.

Some people, like my mother, discover their thyroid problem by noticing a protrusion or growth in the front of their neck. Other sufferers might complain of gaining weight or an inability to loose weight. Like my sister, not all patients with thyroid problems include cancer.

In spite of regularly checking for any thyroid complications, it wasn’t until I participated in a health screening that a possible problem was detected by ultra sound. I then made an appointment with an ears, nose and throat specialist. The doctor took a second ultra sound, and discovered a problem.

Before treatment was prescribed the doctor took a biopsy of the thyroid. This entailed inserting a needle into the front of my throat, directly into the thyroid. Fluid was removed, and sent to the lab for testing. This is not a pleasant procedure, and was done in the doctor’s office, without any local anesthesia. My recommendation to any confronted with this test, take a deep breath, relax, and begin a Lamaze type breathing and focusing to ease you through this procedure.

The tests came back positive for cancer. I was scheduled for surgery to remove my thyroid. The doctor warned me that my neck area would be in excruciating pain a day or so after the surgery. He told me it was not a possibility, it was inevitable and to be prepared.

I was only in the hospital several days, and recall nothing extraordinary about the surgery or my stay. During the days following my surgery I waited for the pain predicted by the doctor. While I was mildly uncomfortable, I did not experience any major pain. Perhaps the pain medication simply did its trick.

After a patient has their thyroid removed, they are put on daily thyroid medication, and must remain on it for their entire lives. But when you have thyroid cancer, the doctor waits a month or so before your treatment begins. The reason for this, you are being prepared for the radiation treatment which will eradicate any remaining thyroid cancer.

During these weeks your body is slowly being depleted of the chemicals your thyroid once produced. Expect to gain weight during this period. My recommendation is to be very careful with your diet. If you feel sorry for yourself and splurge on calories, you will regret your carelessness. Do not allow other to encourage you to eat as some sort of reward or compensation for your experience.

Other symptoms you will experience during the weeks after your surgery, before you are put on thyroid replacement, is depression and exhaustion. Usually we begin to feel better the days after surgery, with each day getting a little better. It is the opposite with thyroid cancer. After your surgery you may initially begin to feel better in regards to the pain around your neck area, yet soon you will begin to grow more and more tired, be unable to focus, and become depress and emotional. This is why I sternly warn about taking care with your diet. Even if you are careful you will probably gain about ten pounds. But if you overeat, you will sorely regret it!

I was unable to return to work the weeks after my surgery. It was very difficult to focus. I found myself flipping through the television channels, unable to settle on one program. Although I am an avid reader, I could not even begin a book.

What did help me through the weeks was my hobby of genealogy research. I used this time to do on-line research, and play genetic detective. It helped pass the time, and was both interesting and stimulating. If you can find a similar project to pass your time, it may help alleviate the feelings of depression.

Finally I was given a radiation pill, and remained in seclusion for about three days. During my seclusion I had to stay away from family members and pets, and take obsessive care with the handling of sheets, clothing and linens.

During my isolation I was instructed to suck on hard candy, to keep my saliva flowing. By the second day hard candy made me nauseous. For over a year after my treatment, just looking at hard candy made my stomach turn.

The radiation treatment will give the patient a metal taste in their mouth. But what was really bizarre, when my husband entered the room several days later, he could also taste the metal.

After the radiation treatment was completed the doctor prescribed thyroid replacement. It often takes a while before the correct dosage is determined. Patients must regularly have blood tests, to reevaluate their dosage. These days I am tested about every six months, and it has been a while since my dosage was changed.

If you are undergoing treatment for Thyroid Cancer, be grateful, it is one of the more treatable cancers.

My Thyroid Cancer Scare

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Cancer has always been a very big concern for me. The thoughts of a loved one, or myself, having a diagnosis of cancer is the one thing that can strike fear in my heart. When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and then died in 1999, it became much more real to me. It has never been something that I obsess over, but the fear does occasionally rear its ugly head.

In the spring of 2008, I began having intermittent chest, back, and neck pain. I have always been one to put things off until I could no longer let it go. This time was no different-until one afternoon in June when the pain was too strong, and continued too long to ignore. Concerned that I was having a heart attack, my husband and I rushed off to the emergency room. EKG’s and blood work were done, as was a CAT scan to make sure there were no aneurysms or blood clots. Everything looked good, and there were no signs of heart trouble. In fact, my doctor told me that most heart problems were not seen in women my age, and that he thought that my pain was coming from my gallbladder. He gave me something to help with the pain that evening, and I went home.

Over the next few months, the pain stayed away, and I decided I did not have time to go to the doctor to get testing done on my gallbladder. After all, gallbladder pain can be bad, but it isn’t fatal.

In September, when I went to my family doctor for a regular checkup, I was brought back to reality very quickly. As he was flipping through my charts, he said, with concern in his voice, “You have two nodules on your thyroid.” What?!!! How did he know that? He said that he had a report from the hospital 3 ½ months before, that the CAT scan on my stomach and chest caught pictures of my thyroid, and that I had two nodules. I needed to get them checked out immediately, and he would make an appointment for me as soon as he could get me in to see someone.

I was shaking, and sick at my stomach. I had five children and a husband who needed me! How were they going to take this? Why was this the first time I had heard about it? What if I died because someone just slipped that information into my file, and said nothing about it?

Over the next five or six weeks, I was sent for ultrasounds and nuclear scans. Each test would lead to another. It was discovered that one of the growths was a “cold” tumor which meant that it had a higher chance of being malignant. In mid-November, I finally got scheduled to see an ENT specialist who could actually compare all of the tests and decide what to do. I was ready to get them taken out. I didn’t care what they were. If they were tumors, I didn’t want them in me. I wanted them out NOW! I had a large benign parathyroid tumor removed when I was 23 years old. Why was removal not being considered this time ?

He said he still needed to do a needle biopsy to see what was in these nodules, and he could do that the week before Thanksgiving. Two weeks later, I went back to his office to have the biopsy. The nurse came into the room, and got me ready. She put a numbing cream on my throat and said she and the doctor would be back in after the cream had been given the chance to deaden the nerves.

About thirty minutes later, they were back to do the biopsy. I don’t believe the cream did much to numb my throat. It stung like a wasp sting when he inserted the needle. It was not that bad, though-very much a mind-over-matter thing. I think that the idea of a needle in my throat was much worse than the actual pain it caused.

Now the waiting began. The doctor said the results would be back within two weeks, so I went home to wait. By now it had been five months since the scan had shown the nodules.

Other than being scared to death, especially for my husband and children, I did not feel particularly bad. Everything I had been reading said that thyroid cancer is usually very slow to spread. It was conceivable to me that I could have cancer, and may not yet be feeling sick.

On December 8th, I got a call from the nurse who told me that the biopsy had come back negative for cancer. The diagnosis was goiters. I told her that she had just made my day. At some point, the goiters will probably grow too large, and I will need to go on medication or have them removed. As of now, my thyroid seems to be functioning well enough that I don’t need to do anything about them. Hopefully, that will be well down the road. I still procrastinate way too long on these things.

In the end, I finally gave in and got testing done on my gallbladder. In May, 2009, I went in for outpatient surgery to have my gallbladder removed. The doctor said it was very diseased, so I guess the ER doctor was correct.

If there is a moral to this story, it is to be certain that you always ask about test results. Don’t just assume that someone will be responsible enough to make a phone call and let you know. Your life may depend upon it.