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College Was Supposed to be the Happiest Time of my Life

Post Published: 15 June 2012
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Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
This post currently has 8 responses. Leave a comment

Dear Thyroid,

First of all, I’d like to express how deeply I hate you. Even though you’re no longer with me, I still hate you with a fiery, burning passion that only Hell can match.

It began with just feeling tired all the time, which I dismissed because I was involved in several things in high school. Then my hair, once thick and soft, became coarse and thinner. Then the choking started. Sophomore year of college, I went to a doctor and told him everything that had been going on – along with the fact that my mother had a partial thyroidectomy –  and asked for a blood test to check my TSH, T3 and T4 levels.  He dismissed the idea that something was wrong and attributed my symptoms to stress, lack of sleep, and too much caffeine. (Nevermind the fact that I don’t drink soda, drink about 2 cups of coffee a day, and actually try to get to bed at a decent time for early morning classes.)  He ordered a test for TSH, which, of course, came back normal.  In August, I went to my primary doctor and told her the same thing.  She was reluctant to do much, but ordered an ultrasound and a barium swallow test (gross).  The ultrasound showed a small mass on your right side.

I had a biopsy in November (painful doesn’t even begin to describe that), the week of Thanksgiving. I didn’t expect to hear anything for a couple weeks, but the following Monday brought the news.  My hospital has this bad habit of always calling the wrong number, so my parents found out before I did.  They called me to tell me.  I called the office.  The nurse said, “It’s small, but it is cancer.”  I called my parents back.  I called my fiance.  I cried.  And all of this happened before 10:30.

Fast forward to January.  You were taken out, along with some lymph nodes. Two of those had cancer, too. I laid on the couch for a week, unable to do anything but sleep and cry.  And no, dear nurse, you cannot just flip drain tubes over your shoulder to shower…you can barely sit up with those stupid things.  I threw up when they were taken out.  The next few weeks were dark.  I don’t remember much, but I would just lay in bed and cry for no reason.

I’m 21. I graduate college next year. I’m getting married sometime after that. You took the joy that I was supposed to have during my college years and replaced it with fear and worry.  You took part of my voice.  You left a scar that I have to look at every day for the rest of my life. You took my light, and it has taken me a long time to get it back.  Now you’re threatening to take it again. My RAI is in 11 days, followed by a scan to find out if there is more cancer.

So thanks a lot, Thyroid.  The next 70 or so years will be spent taking pills, getting blood work, and living in periods of darkness and fear.

All my loathing,
Jessica McCubbin

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8 Responses to “College Was Supposed to be the Happiest Time of my Life”

  1. Aimie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am currently going through my own thyroid battle, my FNA came back indeterminate so I’m booked in for a Hemithyroidectomy in a couple of weeks. I have moments when I can’t think of anything except is it cancer. You described it so well “living in darkness and fear” it brought tears to my eyes but gave me hope knowing we can keep fighting the darkness and find our light.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I was 23 and in college when I had my thyroid cancer. It gets better, trust me. The key is to be on top of your own situation and to get a good doc who’s willing to work with you on meds as well as the lifetime of precautionary visits. I didn’t have a good doc or family support, so my life was over for a few years till I was on my own and able to get a good doc and start the long fight back, this time with the proper meds.

    Use all your energy to watch out for yourself and don’t allow anyone around you to bow down to an egotistical doc who claims to know best when you’re clearly not well!

  3. Hannah says:

    I’m 25 and i had my thyroidectomy 7 weeks ago because i had thyroid cancer. My mum had thyroid cancer 5 years ago. I went through the same battle as you. I was in my final teacher training year, i was tired all the time and i felt like someone was pouring sherbert into my neck every week, and the doctors told me it was just anxiety. It wasn’t. It was cancer. We know what our bodies are trying to tell us and we just have to keep fighting until someone listens. If you want to rant or ask questions feel free, i started a blog to help me vent. It does help. I hate my scar, i wish it was somewhere that wasn’t obvious every day of my life, but my mums is barely visable. Rub either Palmers cocoa butter with vitamin e cream on it or bio oil, but the last one is expensive. Huge hugs and take it easy. It’s a slow recovery but it does get better xxx

  4. Patricia Dunlop says:

    (((Jessica))), I so feel for you. Sending you a big cyber hug. I think the best thing is to regain control of the situation. You cannot change what has transpired, but you can be an informed patient. I highly recommend buying “Stop the Thyroid Madness” by Janie A Bowthorpe so you can learn everything about how to make yourself feel better for the rest of your life. I know you will have to take thyroid medication now so make it the kind that patients say really works – natural dessicated thyroid hormone – the one that actually erases hypothyroid symptoms. Then this will only be a little blip in your life!

  5. Jess says:

    Jennifer – I only went to that doc because he was in the town where I go to school and I wanted an answer. The docs and hospital in that town are notorious for poor treatment of their patients. I kinda want to go to him, show him my scar, and say “Stress and caffeine, right??” (I’m mean…) On the other hand, I’m extremely blessed to have one of the best thyroid drs ever.

    My RAI is on Wednesday. I’ll update y’all later this week. Thank you all so much for your responses and support 🙂

  6. Kelsey says:

    I know how you feel! I was diagnosed a week before i went to school my freshman year of college, thats when i had my thyroid removed. they skipped the biopsy. My first doctor ignored it too!! She didn’t even send me for a test of anything, she checked for strep. Your letter describes so much how i feel. Not many people wanted to talk to the girl with the strips and stitches over where her thyroid used to be the first week of college.
    Let me know how your RAI goes! I hope it gets better for you!

    -Kelsey

  7. Jess says:

    Yikes!! I totally forgot to update everyone. Life got pretty busy.

    Anyway, my scan came back completely clear and today marks 1 month of being cancer-free! Now I only need 6 month check-ups with my thyroid doc to see if I need to adjust my meds. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I recently started a blog and I’ll be posting my thyroid story there, along with adventures from my senior year of college and other tidbits.

  8. Samantha says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I’m trying to write a book to help teachers and parents understand students with hypothyroidism. I’d love to include your story. How did your experience with hypothyroidism affect your performance in school? How did your friends or family react? If you have any advice or stories you’d like to share, I think it would be great to hear them.

    Thanks so much, from a fellow hypothyroid student,
    Samantha

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