Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Thyca awareness month

 

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.

neck check

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!

Awareness4

Messages

If I have any one message to tell the world it is this – be vigilant with your own health, nothing is more important than one’s own life!

Here are some statistical facts about thyroid cancer according to the American Cancer Society:

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for thyroid cancer in the United States for 2014 are:

About 62,980 new cases of thyroid cancer (47,790 in women, and 15,190 in men)
About 1,890 deaths from thyroid cancer (1,060 women and 830 men)

“Thyroid cancer is commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers. Nearly 2 out of 3 cases are found in people younger than 55 years of age. About 2% of thyroid cancers occur in children and teens. The chance of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer has risen in recent years and it the most rapidly increasing cancer in the US. Most of this is the result of the increased use of thyroid ultrasound, which can detect small thyroid nodules that might not otherwise have been found in the past. Still, at least part of the increase is from finding more large tumors as well. The death rate from thyroid cancer has been fairly stable for many years, and remains very low compared with most other cancers.”

neck check

This is why it is vitally important that you ensure that your doctors are doing all the necessary screenings and above all get your neck check at EVERY visit. If you are not, demand it as your doctor is not doing their job! I really try to encourage others that if your doctor is not meeting your needs and not really listening to you and your concerns, then they don’t deserve to be your doctor. If you don’t fight for yourself who will? You are your own best health advocate and know you own body best. They key is educating oneself on things you need to watch for. If it had been stressed to me the importance of proper follow-up with my doctors and had I known the warning signs, my cancer could have probably been found much sooner and resulted in a better outcome.

The other message I would give to others is to embrace life each day as though it is your last. Make every day count and don’t let a day go by without letting those who mean the world to you know just how much you care about them. Life is just too short. You never know if there will be a time when you will talk to those you care about for the last time and not even know it. That makes me reflect on the senseless shooting tragedies in Aurora, CO and in Sandy Hook, CT. Those who lost loved ones will never get the chance to say what they really wanted to for those who meant the most to them, that opportunity was taken right out from under them and my heart goes out to all those families affected. So, I strongly urge you to take a moment today, and hold your children, your spouse and other loved ones a little more tightly and cherish that moment as that moment may slip away before you know it. There is a quote that I am very fond of which I would like to share:

Life is not measured
— Anonymous

We never know how long we have on this earthly life which is why we need to cherish and make every moment count! Every day is a precious gift we are given which I do not take for granted as I know it can be taken from me at any given time. What matters is what we choose to do with that gift and to make the most out of what we are given. For me that choice is to give unto others and why volunteer work is so important to me, especially to those fighting cancer. It is by reaching out and touching lives that our life has meaning and purpose.