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.