Fighting the fight

The best way that I can fight this cancer now is by educating people and bringing about awareness of this rapidly growing cancer which is growing at an alarming rate. However, the advice that I would give to anyone going through this journey is to not let yourself get caught up in phrases such as you have “the good cancer.” As much as people try to think that this is reassuring, clearly it is not. There is no “good cancer” period! I have heard that phrase from more people than I care to count. However, when I think about all of this really in the end do the opinions of others matter to me? I would have to say NO because I know what I have experienced and I don’t need anyone else to acknowledge or validate that. I know what this disease has done to me physically and emotionally and perhaps the real lesson I am to learn throughout this journey is to be more patient and tolerant of others. It is true that thyroid cancer is treatable for the most part, but not always the case as many, many people have lost their battle and life to this damn disease!

There are some that may believe that once you have your thyroid removed you just have to take a pill every day and that you’ll be fine and sometimes if you’re lucky enough it works that way, but not for everyone. For some, it is not an easy road by any means and why it is so important to educate others on what a thyroid cancer patient faces on a daily basis. We may look fine on the outside, but it is a LIFETIME of medication adjustments and other side effects that can result from the thyroid medications – which can make you feel like your hormones are raging out of control, to the radiation iodine treatments that we are subjected to in order to keep the cancer from returning – which sometimes has to be repeated more than once. Side effects such as fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, joint pains, hair falling out, heart palpitations just to name a few – all of which I have experienced; the list can be endless. Your body is just never the same without your thyroid and as much as modern medicine tries to replicate the natural thyroid, these synthetic hormones just don’t compare to the real deal. If I could have my thyroid back without the cancer and the autoimmune disease, I would take it back in a heartbeat!

Radiation also seems to be that gift that just keeps on giving as I have seen other effects occurring since my treatment dose. The latest is the frequent tearing from my eyes which my docs tell me is linked to the Radioactive Iodine treatment – just one more thing that I have had to deal with. For some people their only treatment options are surgery if they become resistant to the Iodine treatments which are no longer effective and for advanced cases a clinical trial with a drug that may or may not prove to be helpful in shrinking the tumors, which really only buys you a little more time. That is what has happened in my case as I am not avid for Radiation Iodine treatment which means that type of therapy is not effective. It is why my scans never showed any uptake and the reason why the Iodine treatment did not work to eradicate any remaining thyroid tissue and cancer cells as my body is resistant to it; further treatment options for me are thus limited to surgery, EBR (external beam radiation therapy), or a clinical trial drug.

Thyroid cancer has a high rate of recurrence which is why we need to be incredibly observant with continuous monitoring. I never thought that I would be facing a recurrence in such a short amount of time, but there it was staring me straight in the face! Who really knows what is in my future as I may have to face the reality of surgery again, if this nodule does continue to grow. Something I am not looking forward to as I don’t want the possibility of something going wrong, as there are always risks involved with any type of surgery. There is absolutely nothing good about any type of cancer other than it makes you shift your priorities and makes you appreciate what is most precious to you – as it can be taken away in the blink of an eye!

I’ve had survivors sharing their stories of losing friends over this dreadful disease as they simply don’t understand or can’t comprehend the effects of what it does to a person to lose a major organ that controls so much of your bodily functions. This is a time where you would think that they would be there to support you as you experience this awful ordeal, but then you only find yourself facing this difficult situation alone. You find out who your true friends really are and where their priorities lie. However, some people will just never get it unless they have experienced it for themselves which is why we have the need to educate others about this disease and just how significantly it can alter your life.

Thyroid cancer is one that I consider to be a life sentence cancer as with other cancers you can hit that 5-yr mark and can be deemed as “cancer free” but because of the high recurrence rate that happens with thyroid cancer, and the boatload of issues that it can cause with your daily life; I am not sure that it is really possible for those with thyroid cancer to ever be deemed as being “cancer free.” This is just my own opinion and perspective on how I feel about it. I guess the best that one can hope for is to have what is termed (N.E.D.) no evidence of disease and I’m hoping that one day I can be put in that category. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is to improve our quality of life as best as possible. That is truly accomplished by having the utmost competent medical team who is looking out for YOU and I certainly have been so very fortunate to have had some of the very best teams available to me.