Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thyroid Cancer Awareness

In 2004, shortly after the birth of our daughter, I noticed swelling on the left side of my neck/throat area.  I assumed I was coming down with a cold or something, as I had awoken with a sore throat for a few days that week.  I went about the week, thinking it would soon go away.  After another week had passed and the swelling increased, I made a doctor appointment to get my glands checked.  The doctor was alarmed at the sight of the swelling on my neck and immediately scheduled me for an ultra sound.  I was gravely concerned, as I knew whatever the issue was, it couldn't be good.  I was told I had a cluster of cysts the size of a golf ball, on my thyroid.
With 5 prior cancer diagnoses within our family, I immediately thought "I have cancer!"  Waiting for the day the biopsy would take place was the most difficult I had endured since my dad's cancer diagnosis, four years prior.  That, coupled with the wait time to receive biopsy results were among the most emotional and challenging days I can remember.  During the results wait time, I worried myself into a frenzy!  After all, I was a wife and mom to an infant and a toddler (and daughter to a man still battling cancer), who had always been a picture of health.  The dialogue of "how could this be happening to me?", kept replaying in my thoughts.

Twelve days after my initial appointment, I was informed my tumor was benign (non-cancerous).  I hadn't felt that kind of relief and of being Blessed, greater, than in that moment.  Five days later, I underwent surgery to remove the tumor and half of my thyroid.  
I can't tell you how often during the twelve days of waiting for results, phrases such as "thyroid cancer is the best cancer to have" and to "not worry" were said to me!  Though well intended, this was no comfort to me, as it was my experience, there is nothing good or fortunate about any cancer diagnosis.
I am blessed beyond measure to have my health and have had no other tumors present!

  • Thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence rates over recent years. It occurs in all age groups from children through seniors.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 62,450 new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. in 2015. Of these new cases, about 47,230 will occur in women and about 15,220 will occur in men. About 1,950 people (1,080 women and 870 men) will die of thyroid cancer in 2015.

    Many patients, especially in the early stages of thyroid cancer, do not experience symptoms. However, as the cancer develops, symptoms can include a lump or nodule in the front of the neck, hoarseness or difficulty speaking, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and pain in the throat or neck.


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