You Mess With Me, The Whole Family Comes for You
(Written by Dorienne, Thyroid Cancer Survivor)
Dearest Thyroid (May You Rest in ThyHell),
I guess you really wanted to be noticed. You take after me, you know. I always wanted to be noticed when I was younger. I think we both had the same idea around that time, but you had a funny way of showing it.
I had a full life ahead of me, Thyroid. I was taking my finals, passing all of my classes, getting ready for graduation and for my life to begin. Why did you have to rear your ugly head then?
It was June 1, 2006. Do you remember? It was three days before my graduation day. I hardly thought about that, though. Instead of being out with friends celebrating our success, I was sitting in a doctor’s office, bouncing my leg while trying to do sudoku puzzles. I knew my life was about to change the minute I woke up that morning, the minute I stepped into that patient room. As soon as the doctor walked in with that solemn look on his face, I knew. What did you do?
I had never been so frightened in my life. I had so many things to think about. My head was spinning so fast that I could hardly stop it. It was like a fan spinning so fast that if you put your hand to it, you would get cut. I felt so alone, Thyroid. I wish you had understood then.
You tricked me! I thought I was finished. Your whole self was removed along with ten lymph nodes. The first high dose of radioactive iodine should have finished you off. Nope. You just had to make me a biohazard yet again. Two radioactive iodine treatments? Really? We waited eight months after that second treatment to see if you were truly gone. That scan came back clean, and I cried so hard my eyes felt like they would burst. You weren’t done with me, though.
My blood work came back high. Even after four biopsies, you didn’t want to show me what I already felt was there. You made me go through a Thyrogen-induced PET/CT scan. It took me a month to find out my results. I needed yet another surgery. To be specific, I had 29 lymphectomies. My left side of my neck is empty, hollow, numb. I still have no feeling on the left side of my upper chest, neck, jaw line, and ear. This I will live with the rest of my life.
You’re still roaming inside my body, Thyroid. You won’t leave me alone. But, it’s no longer about me, is it? My mother has papillary thyroid cancer. My sister has papillary thyroid cancer. My aunt has papillary thyroid cancer. My cousin has papillary thyroid cancer. The list will keep getting longer as time goes on. It’s all in the family, now.
This is bigger than me. It became bigger than me the moment my mother was diagnosed in December, 2009. The cycle kept coming around as my sister, aunt, and cousin received their diagnoses. The more things started to come to light, the more I felt myself becoming more and more lost.
You know something, though, Thyroid? I want to thank you for what you have done to me. I realized I’m not invincible. I wasn’t at 17, and I’m still not at 21. You brought to light a condition that we have now deemed to be familial. My family is more knowledgeable than ever about cancer, especially thyroid cancer. And, do you want to know a little secret? Our individual stories are spreading like wildfire, and they are not overlooked. We use our voices against your disease to bring awareness to the damage you can do.
I used to be so scared of you. Not anymore. And guess what? Neither is my family. We are never backing down. We will never let you win. Good luck trying to bring us down.
Dorienne “Dori” Plait is graduating from college in May 2010 with a degree in Adult Special Education. She is an active member of “I’m Too Young For This!” Cancer Organization and strongly advocates for young adults with cancer and awareness for thyroid cancer. Dori and her mother share a blog about their thyroid cancer journeys.
Aside: Please continue supporting, Dr. Sarah Myhill, to end the witch hunt for this fine doctor in the UK.