American Cancer Survivors
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Thyroid Cancer "Beaten"

Hi I'm Meagan!

In 2011,my junior year or high school, I became aware of a lump on the left side of my neck. My mother, being a worrier, took me into an ENT to have it checked. They did several biopsies which all came back negative and do they made the decision to not do anything unless it grew. Well, time went by and I began to lose color, balance, and would black out on random occasions; which was especially scary because I often did the high painting for our schools drama department and when black outs occurred I would fall. And so we went back to the doctors. They noticed the lump had gotten bigger amend that it would be a good idea to remove it, but as I was half way through my senior year and couldn't take the time to recover from surgery, we decided to wait. Biopsies were still negative and ultrasounds showed nothing too bad, so we saw no harm.

Two weeks after graduation, I went in for surgery. The plan was to remove the left half of my thyroid and then put my on a low dose of levothyroxin. Obviously, because this post exists, that isn't what happened. Going under, I had no idea what was about to happen. Not only did the lump contain a 1.2cm tumour, veins of the cancer had spread through the left side of my thyroid. Which caused them to have to reopen the incision; I was still under; and remove the rest to be safe.

When I woke up the doctor told me what had happened and that I had papillary thyroid cancer;the slowest growing of the three thyroid cancers; and that I had probably had it for several years by this point.

We discussed various options and ended up scheduling to have RAI (Radioactive Iodine) to kill of any remaining thyroid cells that the cancer could have spread to. Now, this process is very long and becomes painful after a while, nothing near as bad a radiation treatment for more severe cancer, but still painful. In Order for the treatment to be done you have to be on a low iodine diet, and have no thyroid hormone inn your system; because it acts as a surpressant for the cells they need to kill off. To check if you are ready, they need your TSH to be at 32. Well, mine wouldn't go up. And so, they did more ultrasounds and found that some of my lymph nodes had been infected with the cancer. This causes me to have to have a second surgery, which resulted in the majority of the nodes in the left and center of the neck to be removed, and left me with minor nerve damage on the left side of my neck.

Finally the TSH began to raise. I became very week weak, and they were able to do the first of 2 rounds of RAI in November of 2013. The second round wouldn't come until 1.5 years later,while planning my wedding.

After 5 years of doctor visits, horrible low iodine diets, and needles, I am now happy to say that they think it's finally gone. Not sure if I believe it yet, but I really hope it's true.

1 Reply

Hi MeaganShupe!

Thank you for sharing!

I very much hope that your cancer is finally gone!

Be sure to check in occasionally (maybe annually?) on your thyroglobulin (and anti-thyroglobulin) levels, just to be on the safe side.

Very sorry to hear about all you've gone through and hope that it's just plain sailing from now on!

I also have papillary carcinoma, but in addition also tall cell (which is a more aggressive subvariant of papillary). Had a total thyroidectomy in the beginning of the year, followed by RAI. Now getting checked every 4 months by my surgical team, but also request interim blood tests through my GP. Maybe a bit paranoid of me, but after years of being told "it's nothing, you're stressed and that's why you don't feel great", I am glad to be taking a more active role in my disease management. Feels like sometimes doctors need to be "prodded" from time to time, since otherwise one might fall through the cracks...