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A Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid Autoimmune Cautionary Tale

Post Published: 03 November 2010
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Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
This post currently has 8 responses. Leave a comment

Dear Thyroid,

You’ve been gone 3 1/2 weeks & I don’t miss you, though I realize you put up a good fight to make my body work right & wrap yourself around the kinds of cancer cells which invaded you in order to protect me, realizing all along you would be seen as the evil one in the end.

We go back a long way, you & I, 45 years total. Here you were trying to grow & develop in this little fetus: me. Developing during those 9 months was especially hard on you. There you were trying to do your job & grow in a little being with a genetic disease woven within your chromosome cells called Hashimoto’s.

And, if that wasn’t difficult enough, the mamma that was growing the baby also had Hashimoto’s. And yes, unfortunately she didn’t know it, but her doctor noticed a goiter on her neck one day while pregnant & forced her to take Iodine pills. Nothing is worse for Hashimoto’s, but still, you pushed on & grew.

By the time this little girl was 2, you were already getting tired & her immune system was exhausted by so many vaccinations attacking it, that she began to find the words to complain about her bladder pain. A new autoimmune disease moved in called Interstitial Cystitis of the Bladder or Painful Bladder Syndrome.  Soon her cries for help proved fruitless, so she kept them to herself, but she was constantly sick with colds & sore throats. Your neighbors, the Lymph’s were constantly swelling & invading your space.

While she drank fluoridated water & ate fluoride vitamins, while swishing around fluoride toothpaste.  The little girl would drink much pink Penicillin, green Sucrets & Nyquil, & using Blistex for the many fever sores on her lips.  But, still you pumped out thyroxin as much as you could, so she could grow tall, although she was skinny & pale with long dry split end hair & had a dry itchy scalp.

Finally she turned 10 & one of her nipples swelled & the other didn’t. She started to get strange pains on her ovaries even though there was no menses from 10 to 14. These were called ovarian cysts. By the time she was 14 & started menstruation, an OB/GYN put her on birth control pills to stop the pain & magically it did; all the while since she was a tall 5’7″ since 13. No one noticed that she had stopped growing.

By the age of 16, her mom told her she didn’t need the Ovral anymore & the strangest thing happened a couple months later; you grew big, really, REALLY, BIG! You swelled so big that you started at her chin and descended to her chest all in one day, in May; you puffed up like a puffer fish!

The teenager was placed in a hospital & given medications including steroids so you would go back to your normal size.  Slowly you shrunk back down, but she could not sleep once she came home to her own bed without the sleeping pills she was used to in the hospital. For 10 days she could not sleep! And then she passed out.  Waking up in the hospital she was groggy & had completely forgotten who she was, who her family was or where she was. A total amnesiac, they tried many drugs on her as they “Practiced” their medicine. Some made her dizzy, others made her feel like a giant, some making her drowsy & while another made her run in circles!

Finally after 2 months, the hospital let her go home on a thyroid supplement called Synthroid. She still was always cold, her hair & skin dry & her voice became lower. But no one cared because her Lab #’s looked just great on paper! And all your swelling had gone down.

She had gained 20 lbs & didn’t look the same.  She was so tired all the time, but she learned to avoid the winters, by staying under quilts when not in school & wearing sweat suits to school, so that she would be warm enough.  Compensating for her symptoms, she would moisturize her skin & condition her hair & take her Synthroid cocktail every morning with orange juice & breakfast.

After college, the young woman married & had 2 children by cesarean section because when it was time for the babies to be born, she did not dilate.

And you my little thyroid were so confused during her 20’s, that you needed 75mcgs., then 100mcgs., then 50mcgs, then 75mcgs., then 100mcgs., then 125mcgs, then 112mcgs.  The woman would test her children every year to see if they too had Hashimoto’s thyroid & finally one day when the girl was 6 & the boy was 8, they too tested positive & started taking their Synthroid cocktails along with their mom, uncles & grandma, every morning.

Then the woman turned 40 & she started Acupuncture medical school, because her children were now in college.  There she learned about desiccated thyroid hormone & how it could prevent diabetes. This was a particular concern for her as she had been suffering with Pancreas Divisum & Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction for 2 years now.

Three weeks after starting school, she was out hiking on a mild overcast day, when she suddenly felt fatigued & all her joints hurt.  Thinking she had the flu, she went home to rest, as the days passed the flu never came & the joint pain stayed. Within the week, she started on MSM (sulphur) & the problem disappeared for 1 yr & a ½. Then nothing worked anymore on her joint pain, so after 3 separate rheumatologist opinions, it was finally decided that she had Fibromyalgia. Thankfully a wonderful supplement at the organic health food store called Fibromalic, also had MSM as one of its ingredients & enabled the lady to continue medical school, belly dancing, yoga, and swimming, hiking & walking.

However in her last year of college, following a car accident, she developed an electrical surge of pain from her left sural nerve in her foot & it would get turned on every time her leg was extended & elevated. Within 8 months, this became crippling necessitating a Cam Walker Brace along with allodynia in both legs & head to toe parathesias, for 3 months on & 3 months off.  After many exhausting tests for MS & other neurological diseases which came up negative, she was starting to think she had Hashimoto’s Neuropathy. For by now she was a good weight for her height, with low blood sugar & low blood pressure that had spent the last 20 years eating organic food, meditating & doing yoga. So, it was time, she decided to give Armour Thyroid a try.

Unfortunately that year she caught every germ, virus & bacteria imaginable & had the sickest year she had ever had, but she was no longer cold & her hair became shiny & her skin began to glow ! By February, her voice became hoarse as you were swelling, there was pressure on her laryngeal nerve. She had a smokers-like cough for 2 years & had never smoked a cigarette in her life.  She knew she had a painful small nodule of 2cm on you, for 6 years but if you can remember the 3 days they stuck you w/ needles 3 different times to see if that nodule was cancerous & every time it came out fine, as they slowly deflated you .5cm.

But, what you didn’t know was that she also had a mass growing on her spleen. So, her doctor told her to see a surgeon. Well, there’s no way she wanted that spleen touched if it didn’t have cancer, so she told her doctor she wanted a PET / CAT. And that’s when you glowed like a Christmas tree to a 13.7 SUV MAX, a malignancy rating. However, because of the 3 perfect Biopsies, her insurance company wouldn’t let you be taken out. About a month later, she went on a trip & for the first time she was Car sick. She found every time after that in a car she would get nausea, so she carried candied ginger wherever she went. Soon after, she noticed more bladder infections, which she couldn’t seem to fight off & then ear pain, diagnosed as middle ear infections. Then more ear pain when the antibiotics were through. And trouble swallowing saliva. It seemed every time she tried to speak, her voice was hoarser & could last a shorter duration of time. Next came painful swollen Lymph nodes all up under her chin & although she met a thyroid surgeon, he & his team simply could not get permission for thyroid surgery. But she wanted you removed, she simply couldn’t take anymore.

So, although the spleen didn’t glow on PET / CAT, she was encouraged to meet with a spleen surgeon, because not all trouble glows. Thankfully she found Dr. Ahmed at Columbia Hospital. He was part of the GI & Endocrine Surgery team and explained that he could handle both surgeries. You, my thyroid were the most crucial emergency for surgery & the spleen would be handled secondary & in another way.

Now, you had 2 forms of cancer, Follicular & Papillary in the same nodule & how bravely you kept it to yourself, preventing it from spreading everywhere in spite of the “Thyroid Stimulating Hormone” that got thrown your way from your friend the Pituitary Gland which was being controlled by the chromosomal genetic pattern you were thrown.

You allowed the surgeon to take you out & you went to the lab without a fight, while they cut you & dissected you in order to type your 2 cancers.

So, thank you thyroid & enjoy your retirement, you’ve worked very hard with all the cards stacked against you.  And as soon as I awoke in recovery, you’ll be happy to know I could swallow, hear & breathe better & by now my vocal tones could be heard.  In 2 days I could sing again!  And I never cough anymore or have ear pain or car sickness.  I have an amazing amount of energy & the Armour thyroid is doing just fine keeping me comfortable. We will PET / CAT your old home again in my neck to make sure no glowing particles is left behind. And just to be certain, on Friday, we will aspirate that mass on my spleen to make sure you didn’t drop any cancer particles in my blood which ended up in my spleen.

Thanks again. Your old friends the Lymph’s say, “Hello”, & are grateful for the extra apartment you gave them. And your buddy the pituitary is taking a vacation now that he doesn’t have to send you wake up calls anymore !  The skin scar healed beautifully in 4 days with some new paint on skin from the burn victim unit & is only 2cm!  Have a good time with all the other organs in the lab, I’m sure you’ll have a lifetime of stories to share!

Your old body,

Judanna di Peppo

(BIO)  Judanna di Peppo L.Ac. is a Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist & can be found on Facebook. Hashimoto’s thyroid: 28 years. Follicular & Papillary Carcinoma : 6 years undetected. Interstitial Cystitis : 42 years. Fibromyalgia : 4years.   Systematic Pancreas Divisum  &  Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction : 6 years Basilar Artery Migraines : 12 years.

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8 Responses to “A Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid Autoimmune Cautionary Tale”

  1. Amanda says:

    Judanna,

    Wow. So many things to fight and overcome. I am so happy you wrote it all out and shared with us. May you continue to feel better and be stronger.

    Amanda

  2. MollyH78 says:

    Judanna,

    An amazing journey you have had. I am finding myself looking back, and perhaps realizing, the things that may have been unexplained as a child or young adult could possibly all be related. You are a strong, calming woman. I only wish the best for you and the rest of your heroine journey through life. : )

    Molly

  3. Liz Mateo says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. You went through a lot through the years but eventually came out a winner! May you continue to get healthier as the years go by.

  4. Anita Rivera says:

    Wow what an amazing story!! Thank you for sharing this!!!

  5. I also had four fine needle biopsies and came back just fine, had a lot of the same symtoms that you had.Lymph glands all swollen, trouble swallowing, pain in collar bone, jaw pain. I was on antibiotics for over a year thinking I had an infection under a tooth. I had bladder infections, pain in bladder when i would lay down always feeling like I had to go to the bathroom. I never related it to my thyroid.Finallt couldn’t take it anymore and had thyroid removed, only to find same as you both follicular and papillary cancer in same nodule. I had four nodules, every time they checked they would find another one. I was wondering what treatment of thyroid hormone have you been placed on since having your thyroid removed, I have had RAI treatment too. It’s been a year this month and still having hypo sypmtoms no matter how low my tsh is.

  6. Melissa Travis says:

    What a beautiful painful powerful story you tell. And how you tell it. Thank you for giving voice to so many untold stories- and fuck insurance. And thank you for speaking up for yourself. Brave you. And brave surgeons who did it.

    Beautiful and moving.
    love,
    Melissa

  7. Thank you all for your encouraging comments. I started working a 2nd Acupuncture office today & while I listened to my patients problems & took notes, I realize this was all meant to be, the more things I had to undergo, the more I can help my patients !
    Jeanne, I take Armour thyroid & actually DECREASED it 25% post surgery as I was registering hyperthyroid ! So, I weigh 144, but I only need 90mcg. My previous Synthroid level was .112mg
    Hope this helps you & others plot their dosing strategies.
    Judanna

  8. Monica says:

    Judanna,

    I am mesmerized by your story. You are an angel in disguise. Although it sounds like your life has been hell, it is nice to read that you are doing well.

    Acupuncture helped heal my body six years ago, and yoga is teaching me how to stay centered and grounded.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    ☮ ♥

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