September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month.
Whenever I meet someone and tell them that I have cancer I often get a similar reaction. People will say “you’re so young”, “really? You’d never know…” Then they’ll ask how I was diagnosed. I always share my story openly because I think it’s important to bring attention to thyroid cancer awareness.
Thyroid Cancer Awareness
There are 4 types of thyroid cancer:
- Anaplastic; and
I have Papillary. It is the most common type, making up approximately 80 to 85 percent of the thyroid cancers diagnosed in Canada. Papillary also happens to have the highest rate of survival.
According to the statistics, 80% of individuals diagnosed with thyroid cancer are women. In the past several years, it has become the number one cancer diagnosed in young Canadians. There are no known “causes” of thyroid cancer except for in individuals who have been directly exposed to a high level of radiation (not very common).
I’ve told my story in a couple of other posts but since this is the first September that I have my blog, I feel that it is important for me to use the platform to express the importance of thyroid cancer awareness urge you to check your neck and explain how I was first diagnosed with the disease.
I Knew Something was Going On
A couple of years after R was born I still wasn’t feeling well. I was very tired and never had the energy to do much. My doctors would routinely do basic blood tests and the results would always be normal. By that time, R was sleeping through the night so I knew that wasn’t the reason. I even had a sleep test which indicated everything was ok.
I still felt that there was something wrong.
After listening to all of my complaints on multiple occasions, my doctor decided to run a large panel of blood tests. She tested everything she could think of to try and explain why I was so exhausted all the time.
One blood test came back irregular. My liver enzymes were elevated. My doctor referred me to a liver specialist to look into the issue further. Before my first appointment with the liver specialist, I had a liver ultrasound to see what was going on.
After waiting several months for the appointment, I met with the specialist and explained how I was feeling. She advised that the ultrasound showed some “shadows” on my liver. These “shadows” could have been any number of scary things ranging from a fatty liver to liver cancer.
Is it my Thyroid?
Because of these “shadows” the specialist suggested that we run additional blood tests and that I have an additional liver ultrasound. Since I was complaining about feeling so tired, she also suggested that I have my thyroid examined as well.
Throughout all of this testing, my thyroid levels were often being reviewed. Every time my levels were tested, they were normal.
A few months after my initial appointment with the liver specialist, I had the ultrasound of both my liver and thyroid.
Reviewing the Results
When I came back to the hospital to review my ultrasound results the specialist advised that my liver was fine (thank goodness) but that she found a couple of nodules on my thyroid. 95% of all thyroid nodules are benign but she directed me to an endocrinologist to have them checked out.
After waiting several months to meet with my endocrinologist, he gave me a further ultrasound in his office and that’s when it became clear that something was going on.
My earlier post on Being Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer goes into detail about what happened after I started seeing the endocrinologist, through to my most recent treatment. As I explain in a subsequent post, I’m still living with the disease until I’m told that it’s all been removed. Like my doctor advised, thyroid cancer is often a marathon not a sprint.
Most types of thyroid cancer are highly treatable but you have to find it. Endocrinologists recommend that everyone Check your Neck. To do this simple test, look at your throat in the mirror while you swallow a glass of water. If you see any strange bulges or protrusions go and speak with your doctor.
For more information on thyroid disease and thyroid cancer check out these links (and speak to your doctor):
Remember, I’m not a doctor and none of this information constitutes medical advice. Do not self diagnose. If you don’t feel well, go and see your physician.
For more information on my battle with thyroid cancer you can read the following posts: