When I was seven years old, I was diagnosed with Hoshimoto’s Thyroiditis and Hypothyroidism. Since I can remember, my doctors were always monitoring me so closely. I went through the motions, routine bloodwork every six months, a thyroid examination by the endocrinologist once a year. Everything was fine, then when I was in 10th grade they started noticing nodules. At the time I had no idea what this meant.
I soon learned this meant thyroid ultrasounds every year…. forever. In 2017 when I went in for my routine ultrasound, they noticed a growth on one of the nodules. “Could be nothing, but we should definitely biopsy given your family history.”
Cancer had never really crossed my mind as I didn’t even know that was why they were monitoring the nodules so closely. My mother was always right by my side and took most of the information in for me. The biopsy came back 60/40 percent chance of being cancer. The doctor recommended visiting a surgeon to get an opinion on removing half of the thyroid.
In my mind, this was a no-brainer. I had no desire to wake up every morning wondering, could it be?! My family, on the other hand, did not feel the same way. My mother thought I was crazy for wanting to go through with the surgery for something that could or could not be cancer… I thought she was crazy for thinking that! My sister who is a doctor kept saying YOU’RE REMOVING AN ORGAN FOR NO REASON!!! There’s a reason. Regardless of the pushback, I went through with it. I scheduled the surgery for two days after my college graduation, just to “get it over with.”
Two weeks after the surgery and a lot of mashed potatoes later, I went in for my post-op. I will never forget the way the doctor delivered the news, with a smile on her face she told me it was stage 1 papillary carcinoma, aka Thyroid Cancer. She was happy because we caught it and removed it so early on and I was going to be fine. But it was still a shock to hear. I had prepared for it but didn’t think it would actually be cancer.
She could tell I was a bit shocked. All I could muster up was “what’s next?” She explained that the other nodules will eventually become cancerous and her estimate was when I was around 40 years old. All we could do was continue to monitor them, just a bit more closely than before.
I kept that fact that it was cancer, or that I even had the surgery very private. I only told my immediate family, and boyfriend at the time. It felt weird. I felt weird. But I was ok.
What I got out of this experience was a lot more than I expected. I took charge of my health, I learned to trust my gut more, and that the recovery time they told me it would be was not true. It took two years to feel normal again after the surgery. But I also learned that I want to do more. I started looking into cancer awareness groups and thyroid cancer meetups but in 2017 I did not come across Stupid Cancer.
In 2020 when I was looking for a new job Stupid Cancer popped up on my job alerts and upon looking into the organization, I knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. Now I WORK for Stupid Cancer and I am so happy to be a part of this community, I hope my very short encounter with cancer can help me help you. I know I had one of the “good cancers” but cancer is cancer and you can’t un-hear those words come out of your doctor’s mouth.
By Sadie Klughers