What Awareness for Thyroid Cancer Means to Me
Why doesn’t anyone know about you? When the surgeons removed you from my body, they told me you were 5 centimeters long. That’s 2 inches – smaller than my pinky finger – and 1 cm was taken up by papillary thyroid cancer. You were so tiny, and yet you were in charge of my body temperature, my metabolism, and regulating hormones I can’t even pronounce. As you malfunctioned, I felt a level of exhaustion I didn’t even know existed. Running, Zumba, TurboKick, counting every calorie…none of it mattered because you weren’t working. But worst of all…no one believed me.
Four different doctors rolled their eyes at me. I was told I had post-partum depression, sleep apnea, low B-12, low iron, chronic fatigue syndrome. I was even told I needed to get over my “body image issues.” No one believed me that it could be my thyroid. After all, I had no family history. None that I knew of, anyway.
It took me 18 months of fighting to get my papillary thyroid cancer diagnosis. Since I was diagnosed, my mother and aunt were both diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. My sister was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, and also has Hashimoto’s antibodies. Our thyroids are a mess. All four of us were dismissed, ignored, scoffed at and belittled for even ASKING about our thyroids. And even as we fight for optimal treatment, we have to deal with doctors, family and friends that think we’re crazy. They don’t think our thyroids really contribute to our weight gain. They don’t believe that our thyroids are the reason our joints hurt, our eyes are puffy, and we feel like we are walking through water. Even after we are diagnosed, we have to struggle. We have to be the ones who drive our own health care.
If more people were aware of thyroid disease, its symptoms and its treatment, millions of women like me could be saved this fight. We are not crazy. They are in the dark.
My name is Sarah, and I am a 34 year-old mother of two who was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer on June 22, 2011. http://sarahyoung1119.wordpress.com