Cancer Girl’s Journey With Thyroid Cancer
It was purely a coincidence that I’m scheduled to talk about my personal journey with thyroid cancer the same day I’m having my four year cancerversary appointment with my surgeon. But that’s troll luck for you.
In 2008, I was in the emergency room for neck pain when a 3 cm mass was discovered on my thyroid. Less than two months later, I had a partial thyroidectomy. Thirty days later, the pathology came back has papillary thyroid cancer and a completion surgery was scheduled for three weeks later. That pathology showed two tumors not detectable by ultrasound – one of which was follicular variant papillary cancer, and the other papillary microcarcinoma.
A month later, I received radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment and then I anxiously waited nine long months until my next full body scan to see if treatment worked. While RAI got most of my cancer, my blood work indicated “metastatic microscopic disease.” I’ve never cried so hard in my life as I did that night. My treatment hospital was 200 miles from home, and I was all alone that night as I tried to wrap my head around the fact that my cancer was now considered a chronic condition and that I’d live with it for the rest of my life.
For the last three years, I’ve waited for the other shoe to fall every time I’ve had blood drawn or an ultrasound. Is it going to behave or is it spreading? Is this the year we find a new tumor? There’s always this little part of me that hopes for a miracle and that one day the doctor will tell me that there’s no evidence of disease.
But until that day comes, I’m living with cancer. Thankfully as the years have passed, it only upsets me when it comes time for tests. It’s become a part of me, and its just part of my new normal we all try to discover post diagnosis.
And today, as you’re reading this, I am sitting in my surgeon’s exam room celebrating four years of survivorship thanks to his care. There are hugs and tears happening. There is talk of what the next year will bring. But mostly we smile and focus on just how far I’ve come.