Monday, May 25, 2009

Let me introduce the situation.

So to start with, here's the big news.  A week ago (Tuesday May 19th) I was informed over the phone that I most likely have thyroid cancer.  Woot!  
Some backstory:  A few years back (maybe three or so) I noticed a lump in the front of my throat that hadn't been there before.  "Hmmm," says I, "Perhaps I should have that looked at."  My regular doctor saw nothing wrong at the time (which is about when I should have fired him) but when I next saw him, around a year later, he agreed that there was an obvious lump, which turned out to be a nodule on my thyroid.  Apparently these are quite common, and often nothing goes wrong with them, they just sit there on your thyroid, not doing much.  Regardless, my doctor referred me to an endocrinologist, a lovely man named Dr. Amer Budayr.   Dr. Budayr performed a fine needle aspiration biopsy of the lump, and tho I was nervous about the procedure at the time (you lie on your back while the doctor sticks a giant needle into your throat), it really ultimately wasn't so very bad, and the results came back within a week - no worries, nothing wrong.   A follow-up appointment was scheduled for a year later, i.e. a couple weeks ago.  I felt much more at ease with the whole needle situation, and I was so calm that Dr. Budayr gave me two organic lollipops!   Hooray!
Last Tuesday I got the call - there's some suspicious activity in the cells of the nodule.  The folks at the lab have diagnosed the activity as indicative of papillary thyroid cancer, and my endocrinologist recommends surgery to remove the thyroid.   It's hard to describe the feelings that hit me when I heard the news:  A general sense of horror and helplessness, even tho the doctor assured me that thyroid cancer is incredibly treatable and in people my age the "fatality rate is 0%."  It's still cancer.  And when I have my thyroid out, I will have to supplement the missing thyroid hormone (which regulates one's metabolism along with other things) by taking a pill every day.  That alone is enough to make me super frustrated.  I've never had to rely on medication for anything other than birth control, and I've always entertained the possibility of being able to pick up & leave (town or country) when the mood strikes - now that's much less of an option.  Additionally, mortality becomes so much more tangible when you think about having to take a pill every single day, for the rest of your life.  
So my week since hearing the news has been a roller-coaster of emotions:  feeling that "I can totally beat this, it could be so much worse" interchanged with "oh my god, oh my god, oh my god this sucks!"  I can be a stressy-cat, and this is kindof a stressful situation, so it's been a time of talking myself out of obsessing over things that I really can't change right now.  Attempting to inform myself has been a priority, but searching for info online has been semi-helpful at best.  (I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise.)  I see a lot of people venting on various forums about how crappy they feel - and while that's not unusual for the Internets, it's absolutely terrifying and unneeded for a newly diagnosed person such as myself.  I finally found some useful fact-filled sites, and have gotten some wonderful book recommendations, so I'll do my best to share those with you.
The purpose of this blog is to share my experience.  For you to read if you're curious, for me to reference later on, and for anyone else dealing with thyroid cancer to scan and maybe pull some useful info from.   Yes, there will be venting, but I'll try not to complain for complaining's sake - if I'm feeling poopy and want to write about it, I will hopefully have something of substance to add to that post.
I will attempt to be coherent and provide photographic illustration when I can.  
Definitely feel free to add comments or email me with questions.  This is scary, no lie, but I have a wonderfully supportive family, an amazing boyfriend (who didn't sign up for this, but is a total champ for rising to the challenge) and lots of people willing to lend an ear.  And hey, it's gotten me to start a blog, something I never thought I'd do!  (Yay?)


  1. Hey! This is crazy, but you are awesome and will totally power through. I am so sorry you have to deal with this. xo

  2. Hey! I found your blog through one of my intense "thyroid nodule" Googling frenzies.

    I'm 19 and discovered my nodule a month ago and my biopsy came back inconclusive. The endo decided to review it with whoever read the slides and told me he's more than 99% sure it's benign. But after reading your situation--getting a 2nd biopsy a year later and hearing some bad news--I'm sort of worried/anxious! I guess time will tell, huh?

    I hope your surgery goes well! From my Googling expertise, it seems people get on pretty well afterward!