By now I am sure that many have seen the recent “ice bucket challenges” seen all over social media to bring about awareness of ALS, which I think is such a worthy cause; however, at the same time I sure wish that there would be something that could generate the same attention and funding for people with other cancers and diseases that have no cures. I have many friends that have advanced stage thyroid cancer and are fighting an ugly battle as well. The percentages of those with it are just not high enough for the pharmaceutical companies to set funding aside for these cancers, because they don’t have much to gain or profit from it. It is then left up to non-profit companies or patients themselves to raise the necessary funding and so their chances for a cure become greatly diminished. With that being said, September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month and is a chance to make people more aware of this type of cancer which is becoming more and more prevalent.
There are things about this disease one should know and I have probably mentioned this before in my blog, but something that I feel is worth repeating. For those who are just starting on your journey the first thing is to ask as many questions as possible and educate yourself about this disease. Online and local support groups are great resources which can help you navigate your way through this. Next, find a doctor that you feel comfortable with and one that communicates well with you, because you want one that works with you and not against you. Ensure that you find a good endocrinologist and one that specializes in treating thyroid cancer. Many thyca survivors struggle to find a doctor that listens and takes their concerns seriously. Some doctors may say well your numbers look good, despite the fact that you tell them you feel horrible and struggle just to function. If a doctor is just not meeting your needs, time to move on and find a new one that does listen and takes into account the whole picture. I myself have been so fortunate to have doctors who truly do listen to me and my concerns. They not only ensure that my levels are good, but also consider how I am feeling as well and take appropriate measures in making adjustments as necessary. If you are not sure where to look for a good endocrinologist start with your primary care doctor and ask other survivors in support groups. One great resource that has been such a big help for me is the Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association http://www.thyca.org. This organization provides information about thyroid cancer along with treatment options, in addition to providing a listing of local support groups and specialists by state.
One thing that I advocate all the time and something that I cannot stress enough of is to ensure that your get your neck check at every office visit with your doctors.
Don’t ever brush off something that doesn’t feel right. You know your own body best, so when something feels out of whack or just not right, heed those warning signs that your body is telling you. Seek out your doctor and have your concerns checked out sooner rather than later. Thyroid cancers can be found on simple routine visits where doctors may feel a lump and will follow-up with appropriate tests such as an ultrasound to rule out if there is in fact a problem which should also be correlated with lab tests as well. However, a lot of the time many people may have lab tests within normal limits. I most likely had thyroid disease for years and and never knew it, because I wasn’t educated on things I should be watching for and didn’t see doctors on a regular basis. If I had, maybe my outcome could have been different, but it is what it is and I’m dealing with it the best way that I can.
Early detection saves lives, so please join me in helping to spread the word about awareness of thyroid cancer!
Throughout the history of time our nation has gone through many wars that have cost us by putting a strain on our economy. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan/Post 9-11, studies have shown that the costs associated with these wars could exceed between 3 to 4 trillion dollars especially when you consider the cost in defending national security as well as the medical costs in caring for our wounded veterans: http://costsofwar.org/article/economic-cost-summary
Not only are there the economic factors, but more important is to consider the loss of lives. Some have paid the ultimate price by laying down their life to protect the freedoms that we enjoy; they leave behind their families to try and put the pieces together and move on without them, which sometimes can prove to be difficult.
Much like the many wars our nation has faced, the war on cancer comes with a hefty price tag as well. I am sure that many cancer survivors can also relate to the financial burden which this disease has put in their life, which just adds more stress on your body and mind. It is bad enough that you have something trying to overtake and destroy your body, but to add another stress factor just doesn’t help in the healing process. No one can prepare you for the financial strain it can cause, unless you are the Bill Gates of the world. You spend your whole life working hard trying to build up a good nest egg so that when the time comes for you to live out your golden years that you don’t have to scrape every penny just to make ends meet, in order to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. I have watched our nest egg being slowly depleted because of the costs associated with my cancer treatments. It’s not that I’m uninsured, because I do have pretty decent insurance, but you know they only pay for so much and then the rest is left up to me. Then, there are also those things which are not covered by insurance such as specific tests and scans. Cancer is costly and between all the different specialists and the hospital it seems as though everyone has to have their hand in the pot in one way or another. Healthcare costs are always on the rise and seems to be spiraling even higher with every day.
As I have talked with many survivors with the new healthcare laws that have been put into place, many of them have lost their healthcare coverage, or their doctors are leaving their insurance plans and then they are stuck trying to start all over with a new doctor. Moreover, as I have also talked with doctor friends of mine, some have or are seriously considering leaving the medical profession altogether, because they can’t stay afloat because of these failing economic policies of our government; however, they are no different than you or me, those of us who are just trying to earn a decent living. I just hope that this cancer war does not end up costing me the good doctors I do have, as the good ones are slowly becoming a dwindling commodity. One day researchers will find a way to win this war on cancer and have a cure for this nasty disease.
However, the largest price tag that this cancer war causes is the loss of life, because one loss of life is just one too many!
Summertime is a great time of year where we can take those opportunities to connect with family and friends and continue to do those things which help to build and strengthen those lasting relationships with one another. It is a time where we can refresh and recharge our batteries so that we can prepare ourselves for the changes which lie ahead of us. With that being said, the end of summer is also the start of a new beginning in which we can move ourselves into another direction or focus. It is also a change of seasons where fall sets in and the weather gets cooler. The kids are back in school and ready to learn as their minds are these big sponges ready to soak up information.
There is nothing constant as change, sometimes changes for the good and other times there are those changes that we don’t necessarily want but something which helps us to progress and grow. This past week has been full of many changes for me as I just started with a new position as a Paraeducator in the Autism program at an elementary school I have been familiar with, but with many new teachers and administrators. It’s been exciting getting to know them and the students and I thought that I was pretty set and ready to get the routines going on. However, God apparently has a different plan for me and I’ve found myself being moved into another direction by working with students on the high school level. This is somewhat of unfamiliar territory as most of my experience as a Paraeducator has been working with students on the elementary level. Nevertheless, working with older students has not been totally new to me as I did teach a great group of youth for my church prior to my cancer diagnosis and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them!
So, this next week will be the beginning of other changes with a new school, new teachers, administrators and students once again. Talk about another curve ball coming out from nowhere as I truly wasn’t expecting that! Life is sure full of surprises. On the plus side the school is only five minutes from my house and I no longer have to fight the traffic trying to get into the base at Fort Carson, which is a major bonus. Moving forward this is a chance for me to develop and expand my skills. I also look at this as an opportunity to give these students a chance to prove that they are much more capable than they are given credit for. All they need is for someone to believe in them to help them to realize and reach their full potential.
There are some who may fear or resist change. Why is that? Perhaps it is because they become stuck on something; it could be good or bad past experiences. They may think that somehow things should be this way or that way and that there are no other alternatives. A really good quote that I heard recently from a very good friend:
Are changes scary, absolutely yes! There is another quote that always sticks in my mind when it comes to change:
Growth and changes are a part of life; however, if you limit yourself on being able to progress you may very well find yourself being stuck and you will never know what opportunities you would have missed out on when they come knocking. Life is about the choices we make and so when those tides of change wash upon your shore, I think the key thing is to go with the flow of its direction and to fully embrace those changes!