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Melissa’s Story (Thyroid Cancer)

It started in 2014. I had not been feeling well for some months, like I had serious allergies, a little sore throat and some anxiety and stress. Not really having any major issues, I put it off for a while. Then I started with the ENT, and decided to get an allergy test again. Well, the result was nothing of significance because there was no change in previous known allergies. I did notice that my voice had changed a bit by that point, but didn’t see any reason for concern.

Then another couple of months went by, I noticed a lump in my throat by the thyroid gland. That sent alarms through me. I felt the lump and immediately went to my primary care doctor. Thinking it might just be swollen lymph nodes, a prescription of anti-inflammatory medicine was given. After 2 weeks with no improvement, I went for an ultrasound which revealed I had several nodules/growths on my thyroid. After a biopsy was done, it was determined that I had papillary thyroid cancer.

I had surgery about 3 weeks later. Since I had 3 tumors covering both sides of the thyroid, it was recommended that the entire thyroid be removed. Having the thyroid removed really turns your entire system upside down…as I learned the thyroid is like the battery for your car – it runs everything. If the battery is not working properly, then everything is affected by it.

After surgery I needed one treatment of radioactive iodine, which is supposed to kill off any residual/remaining cancer cells. This was scary in that once you take the radioactive pills, you must stay away from humans and pets as you are radioactive. They tell you to not come any closer than 6 feet for 3 days. That was not easy to do. My dog needed to go stay with my mom for the weekend and my husband was smart enough to keep his distance.

For me, it was a deeply emotional and mental experience. My physical being healed quickly after the surgery, however, the emotional and mental healing took a lot longer. I was fortunate that my cancer had only spread to one lymph node and was also removed. My emotional outlook was pretty fragile for a while. I didn’t know anyone who had thyroid cancer that I could talk to and ask questions or share experiences with. Once I felt emotionally strong, I was determined to learn as much as I could about health and wellness. From this experience, I have changed my lifestyle 180 degrees from pre-cancer.

Submitted 03/25/2021

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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