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Monday November 18th 2019


Nothing Was Wrong

Post Published: 19 April 2010
Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
This post currently has 15 responses. Leave a comment

Dear Thyroid,

I couldn’t live with you, but can I live without you?

Of course, the obvious answer here is ‘yes’. Of course I can live without you. And it’s not because I’m “strong” or “powerful” or any of that. It’s because I don’t have a choice: you’re gone. And I have to keep going.

I don’t even know where you are right now! The last I heard, you were in Pennsylvania somewhere. We’ve been there before! You were much smaller then. I can’t believe you went back without me!

I knew there was a cyst in my neck. It’s been there for many years. But the doctors didn’t tell me it was on my thyroid. And I didn’t ask. I was young, and I knew nothing was wrong.

When I moved to England, the cyst got,  larger after a miscarriage. Losing a baby at 23 weeks caused me a lot more concern than my neck cyst. A trip to the doctor told me little. He said he never seen anything like this before. He looked through a tiny medical book for a few minutes, and then told me that it was a cyst on my ‘swallowing muscle’. He sent me home with antibiotics, despite me telling him that the cyst was there for years. I decided that his diagnosis was all right. I knew nothing was wrong.

Then I moved back to America. Nearly every visit to a doctor resulted in a blood test for my thyroid. It seemed almost all of them were worried. I had little signs that indicated there might be a problem. The cyst, weight gain, depression. But again, all the tests came back fine. And I knew they would anyway! Because nothing was wrong.

I started hearing about medical problems from my family. My dad had thyroid problems, and my sister had thyroid problems. I even heard that my grandmother and my aunt had thyroid problems. It was surprising, but I,  wasn’t alarmed. I just had a cyst! Nothing was wrong!

But you, thyroid: you seemed to get upset when I got pregnant again. I started feeling choked by you. However I didn’t bother asking the doctors about it anymore. Why should I keep paying for the doctors to continually tell me that I’m fine? I was just hoping that the cyst would fade over time. Perhaps at this point I was just convincing myself that nothing was wrong.

Thyroid, do you remember how things changed? Do you remember the moment when I realized that I should be more concerned about you? It was during a routine prenatal visit. It all started with the look on my doctor’s face, when her eyes moved to my neck and saw the huge lump you created. The conversation moved away from my baby. I realized that something was wrong.

I had to wait until after the baby was born to get more checkups on my neck. However my doctor went on a leave of absence. I had to see another doctor. I had an ultrasound which informed me that I now had multiple cysts on my thyroid. And it all seemed like a waste of time: my new doctor told me that they “generally don’t do anything” about this condition. I was devastated. I was angry! I was depressed. You win this round, thyroid.

But you know, thyroid…. you went a little too far. You embarrassed me, in our new family photos. You gave me pain, you made it harder for me to breathe, and you prevented me from taking care of my baby as much as I wanted to. My first doctor didn’t have a scared look on her face for no reason. You had to be fixed.

So I called my original doctor. I didn’t know where she was, but she was the only one who would listen. It took me over two months, but I finally got a return call from her. She was back, and we did another blood test. I was suddenly producing too much thyroid hormone. She then scheduled me to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

This was getting serious! He didn’t like you much either, thyroid! In fact, he told me that you would have to go. I was certainly not expecting to hear that I would have to break up with you like that! But I knew it as well. Cysts can often come back after being drained, and there were too many. It would have been painful to get them drained, and it wouldn’t fix my new hyperthyroidism. I went to see an endocrinologist as well. She confirmed our breakup.

But should I do it, or just say no? By this point you are causing me a lot of pain. My ears are starting to hurt, and it’s painful to hum or sing. But I can’t afford to have you removed. I have no insurance. I already have a pile of bills from having the baby.

Well guess what thyroid? Not even that can stop me! I saved up the money for the down payment! You are going to go! And I’m not even worried! The surgery will be easy, just like getting my appendix out. And then I’ll feel so much better! Yeah, right.

Things have actually been scary after you left me, thyroid. This is not like getting my appendix out at all. The surgeon… he used both hands to describe your size. 125 grams! You were pulling my vocal cord nerve like a bow string. And you had grown underneath my breastplate. They didn’t see this in the ultrasound and were very surprised. It doesn’t seem good when the doctors are this surprised.

The wound is healing fine. But when I went to get the stitches removed, the surgeon mentioned another surprise. Cancer. It was found in the area under my breastplate. No one knew. The surgeon recommended a radioactive iodine treatment, and then he left the room. They really want to make sure every little piece of you is gone, thyroid!

But is this how patients are usually told about cancer? Is it silly that I expected something more? Some kind words, some emotional support? Something!?

So this is where you left me, thyroid. In-between treatments, in-between doctor visits.  Scared, and unknowing of my next step. Is my journey without you going to be tougher than the one I had with you? I don’t know where I will go from here, but I know I will figure it out.

(Bio) My name is Erika Abbott. I’m 27 and just getting my life started. I have just earned my first college degree. I have just had my first baby. And I have just been told that I had cancer. I’m not ready for this! I wanted to share why I had my thyroid removed, as I hope that it will help me reach out and meet others with similar stories. This is a letter to my thyroid, where I explain my many years of misdiagnoses, up to where I am right now. My Facebook page.

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15 Responses to “Nothing Was Wrong”

  1. Misti Kennedy says:

    Oh Erika, I’m sorry this is happening to you. What a scary thing to go through. I survived thyroid cancer when I was 16 and have been dealing with my hypothyroidism for almost 22 years. It has been a challenge, but I’m still here, kicking my (non-existent) thyroid’s ass.

    Probably the reason you have thyroid tissue under your breastplate is because when we develop in the womb, the thyroid starts out in the area of our heart and moves upward as we grow, sometimes leaving behind thyroid cells. That was what my surgeon told me when I was diagnosed all those years ago. Of course, he was nicer to me than your doctor was. Sadly, because thyroid cancer is viewed as a “good” cancer – as if there is such a thing – maybe your doctor is confident he’ll be able to successfully treat it.

    I hope everything goes well during treatment and that you are able to manage your medication for the hypothyroidism. The best way to keep on top of it is to be informed and proactive in your treatment. Keep your chin up and know that we are here for support.

  2. Anna says:

    OMG – I am weeping in tears and in awwwww of your strength.
    Keep your head up and take good care of your baby – enjoy each moment. You proved that when you do take charge of your own health you will get your answers and although it may take long you didn’t give up. Don’t ever give up. We are all here to support you

  3. Lolly says:

    Hi Erika,

    I can’t beleive oh maybe I can what you have been through for so long with no on even doing an ultra sound or even referring you to a surgeon or ENT specialist so glad you persevered and didn’t give up.

    I wish you well with your treatment and hope now you will be able to enjoy the time you have missed with your baby.

    Be strong be brave but most of all be determined to kick ass this cancer.
    You got all our support even if we don’t have cancer.

    Your letter truly touched me.


  4. Stephanie says:


    Your words have touched me as I have gone through MUCH of the same thing. the whole reason I ever went to an endocrinolgist was because I was unable to get pregnant. Long story short, I had a multiple cysts in my neck on my thyroid. Ultimately I had a 6cm cyst on the right side – which had been drained MULTIPLE times and had to come out. The surgeon very casually told me I had cancer but not to worry about it, and he went on his way. REALLY?

    That was 7 years ago, and I have been fighting ever since… and so will you. You have a million supporters that will help you through this difficult time – and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I assure you.

    Good luck, and I hope we hear from you again on how you have kicked thyroid cancer’s ass – and are healthy and happy.

    Much love,


  5. Michelle says:

    Erika, Great letter! I understand your journey, my thyroid and it’s stupid cancer were taken out 4 months ago. And Stephanie, one of the reasons I headed to the Endo was because I haven’t gotten pregnant after three years of trying naturally. Now I’m so thankful to be alive and healthy, and turning 39 today, I’m ok if the baby thing doesn’t work for me. I’m feeling great now, and hope you are both also on the way to a good recovery. 🙂

  6. Dear Thyroid says:

    Misti – Your sentiments and support, are so appreciated! I love your advice, I just think it’s wonderful.

    Thank you so much for connecting with Ericka.

  7. Dear Thyroid says:

    Anna – You are so right, that fighting spirit is very important. Ericka’s letter was deeply touching.

    Thank you so much for connecting with her.


  8. Dear Thyroid says:

    Lolly – Beautiful show of support, and Ericka is definitely kicking cancer’s ass. Thankfully, as you said, she has all of us to support her through it.

    You made a great point, even though some of us don’t have thyroid cancer, we’re still connected to one another and feel each other’s plight very deeply.


  9. Dear Thyroid says:

    Stephanie – I absolutely love what you wrote, and I appreciate that you shared your story, too.

    Your endo matter-of-factly said, “you have cancer”, as if to say, “pass the mustard”?! Un-freakin-believable. How did you feel? In that moment, I would imagine you don’t even know where to throw yourself or how to digest the information. Worse, worse, worse, he didn’t give you an opportunity to. WOW – appalled and saddened by what happen. Equally in awe of your fighting spirit, too.


  10. Erika – Your letter moved me to tears. I cannot believe the lengths you have had to go to to get this diagnosis and sadly it’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last that I’ve heard of something like this happening. You are so right – doctors shouldn’t be surprised. They should know what the hell is going on. Time and again, I have come across doctors who are simply insensitive and unempathic – in my opinion, if you can’t sympathise with the patient, then you shouldn’t be a doctor in the first place! I am so sorry about the way your surgeon broke the news to you. I am so glad that you have found Dear Thyroid and hope that we can help you by making you realise that you are not alone!

  11. HD inOregon says:

    Hello Erika,

    Wonderful letter! And very well written! Great read!

    Oh the word “cyst” got my blood boiling too. Had two cyst that doctors (several of them, and for a very long time) thought to be harmless, but they turned into two different cancers. – My new mantra on any new bump on my body is, have it checked out and have it biopsied. Twice bitten, now I’m extremely shy.

    I wish you the best of luck with your further treatment. Hang in there, we’re here to root for you! This is a wonderful support group!

    HD in Oregon

  12. Christine says:

    First of all I just want to hug you. Sorry, natural response after such an emotional letter that you have written. I want to tell you that what happened to you, should have never happened to you! But it doesn’t change what did happen does it? Lordy, I want to scream in unison with all of us here at the medical injustice served to you.

    Cancer. I don’t care what kind, where it is, the word “Cancer” is terrifying, like nothing else is or has the power to alter our worlds… cancer.
    For any doctor to deliver such a “pronouncement” in any other way, but one of kindness, empathy and compassion makes me sick and makes me angry! I am more sorry than I can say about that…. I was one of the lucky one’s I guess, my doc took my hand and told me, then immediately told me Plan A and Plan B and where we would go from here, so I completely understand what would happen going forward. EVERYONE should have that! EVERYONE! YOU should have been given that courtesy, that touch of human kindness…. *tears*

    You do not have to walk this journey alone! Many of us have been down this road, are going down this road. While we each are different with different coping mechanisms, different personalities, many of us have had this experience and can help with what the next step could be, what the next questions are. Hollar Erika and watch as we come running…

    We are a community that rage together, love together, cry together and most importantly support one another together… how wonderful and precious is that!?!

    Just tell me what you need….. tell us what you need….

  13. Erika, this sucks, I know. My neck was huge because my thyroid took over. I also had difficulty breathing because of it. Its a hell of a thing to go through, especially when they tell you “nothing is wrong”. I’ve been there too. I’m 17 with thyroid cancer, I know how much it sucks! My thoughts are with you.

  14. Erika says:

    Thank you, everyone! I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to reply to this! I have been taking many breaks from the computer recently. It’s quite a change from working and going to school online!

    I have my ups and downs, and days of complete exhaustion. I cannot tell my baby to calm down and let me rest, because he just doesn’t understand! He is teething now. Sometimes I just have to cry along with him.

    All of my doctors are telling me to hold off on the radiation treatments. They do not think I’ll be able to handle not being on my medication, as I already have to handle ADHD, depression, and motherhood.

    This is still a daily struggle. I’m glad that I have all of you to turn to, who understand the battle!

  15. Cindi says:

    You are generous, caring, and you love that baby to pieces. I am sorry that all this is going on. In some odd coincidence you sent this link on the day before my father goes in for a biopsy. I cannot believe the rudeness and cold manner in which they the doctor told you. The scary years of being told it was nothing makes me worry about a problem I have had for years that the doctors keep telling me is nothing. I hope things get better. We will try to keep the stress off you.

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