Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

The Thyroid Gland is an important organ that regulates body metabolism. It is located in the front of the neck just below the voice box (larynx). The thyroid gland secretes two main thyroid hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The secretion of T3 and T4 by the thyroid is controlled by a feedback mechanism involving the Pituitary gland, a small organ at the base of the brain, and the Hypothalamus, a structure in the brain.
Thyroid cancer is a cancer that starts in the thyroid gland.
Thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in incidence. It affects female and males of all ages, from young children to seniors. Even when treatable, thyroid cancer is life disrupting, expensive, and stressful both for patients and for loved ones. 
*Early detection is important, because some thyroid cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat.
  In 2004, I learned how crucial a persons thyroid is to live.
I noticed a large golf ball-size mass on the side of my throat, while looking in the mirror.  I did notice my neck had been a bit sore for a few weeks prior.  I assumed I was in need of a new pillow, and never noticed the growth until it was HUGE!  I still can't figure out how it took me so long to notice such a large "lump" on my throat, because it was very noticeable.  After-all, I look in the mirror every morning and night while performing my hygiene upon waking up, and going to sleep! It was a bit sore to the touch, and had no recollection of pain upon washing my neck each day.

Initially, I panicked a bit (you may remember form my previous posts, cancer is very prevalent in my family, and has been a harsh and dangerous reality since age 12), as I knew the prognosis couldn't be good.  My neighbor had just informed us of his thyroid cancer diagnosis the week before, so you know exactly where my thoughts went!  
It took a week to secure and appointment for a biopsy, then an additional 6 days to receive results.  During this time I was a mess!  All I could think of is "I have cancer!  I am going to die and my babies (ages 2 and 4 months, at the time) won't have a mom-my poor husband!" 
By God's Grace, my tumor was benign!  The doctor said it was a mass of hundreds of little tumors clumped together.  
I had the tumor and half of my thyroid removed a week later.  Thankfully, I have been able to sustain with just my half thyroid, and don't require daily medication in order to live.  I get checked 3 times a year to ensure my half thyroid is functioning as sufficiently as a "whole" thyroid would, as my body needs. 
I continually pray I can sustain, so I don't have to begin supplemental medical protocol for the rest of my life. 


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