9 years. Nearly a decade. That is how long it has been since I learned that I was joining a “club” of thousands. The one with people diagnosed with metastatic thyroid cancer – papillary form.
Every year I go on my annual trek to Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) to undergo a few assorted tests and visit with one of my Top Docs. As you may know, JHH is known for Top Docs across many specialities, mine happen to focus on “matters of the neck and thyroid”. This annual “date” with Top Doc is important, albeit nerve -wracking. I tend to use this time to reflect, write and educate – about Thyroid cancer navigating the world as a cancer patient.
I am writing this letter nearly three years to the date of my thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer. I was so lucky to be surrounded by great docs at Johns Hopkins Hospital and many others.
I know it seems like the trips to doctors offices, tests and treatments will never end. Your scared, frustrated and perhaps feeling a sense of doom. Welcome to cancer- land. Sorry it isn’t fun – just beastly.
For some of you this will be a short “lump” in the road (thanks to Margaret McSweeney who coined that phrase during her own bout with cancer). For others, the road will be long and bumpy. Here is perhaps a few little suggestions to help you endure whatever path you now have found yourself taking –
1. Surround yourself with those who truly care about you and don’t shut out anyone who genuinely wants to help you because you are too “embarrassed”. NOW is a time to accept anyone with good karma to help you out. (If they have a drivers license and can do errands for you post-surgery – even better!)
2. Delete from social media, your contact list and your life anyone who brings negative energy to you and yours. You don’t need them right now. Maybe never. Also, expect that some people will believe cancer is contagious and will dump your friendship like a hot potato. So be it. Remember stay positive, rid yourself of negative. There are a lot of great people in this world. Those who tossed you aside are not them.
3. Your body will betray you. The surgery will be only the beginning of the changes to happen to your body. Expect a shift in how you look. A few more pounds. A few less pounds. I haven’t met anyone who had thyroid surgery who weighed the same before and after. Your hair will get all funky for a bit. Your voice may change and you will find other oddities that are either annoying or a bit humorous. Just go with it!
4. Ladies – retail therapy for new scarves is a must! Indulge and don’t go too cheap – you want the kind that look fashionable but don’t scratch or make you sweat.
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