Tracy's Journey with Thyroid Cancer

Survivor: Thyroid Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment more than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: almost 41 years ago, Female, Age: 58, Stage IV

  1. 1
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Misdiagnosed

    Oh No

    Sick for two years as a teenager. Dr said it was stress of going to Jr High until lumps showed up on neck.

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  2. 2
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Dr has discussion with Parents

    Oh No

    You know there is something wrong when the Dr is talking to your parents in the other room and Mom is crying

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  3. 3
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    Biopsy and then removal of 1/2 thyroid

    Went as Expected: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Recovery: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  4. 4
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    What doctor will treat me?

    Decision Point

    Virginia Mason 1970's was the place to go for cancer treatment on the west coast. I remember going there after many very uncomfortable tests and a couple of surgeries to sit in my hospital gown with a group of other patients waiting to be seen by a room full of doctors. I was about 14, shy and surrounded by men who all wanted to feel the lumps on my neck and discuss my case as if I did not exist. I then spent several weeks going from doctor to doctor until I was accepted by Dr Nielson (I much later found out he only took terminal cases and was known as Dr. death).

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  5. 5
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    8 hour surgery, scar from ear to ear to remove every lymph node visible in my neck, pretty extreme

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  6. 6
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Internal radiation

    Radiation

    I was 14 it was the mid 70's and we have no idea of how much radiation I was given. They put me behind a lead shield and no one was near me for more than 2 minutes. I was not warned that I would be nauseous so I thought my favorite snacks caused it (it was years before I ate M&M's again...) I couldn't leave until the gieger counter showed low enough...very strange. I was given this treatment again in 2006 and sent home radioactive, no leads shield but my husband had to sleep on the couch. IMPORTANT- eat your sour candy for this, its to protect your saliva glands from the radiation!!! Mine have been burned and it's not good.

    Painless Experience: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  7. 7
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Cancer is back/Recurred

    Oh No

    Age 16 another lump! NOOOOO This really scared me, another lump the size of a ping pong ball just under my chin, turned out to be a saliva gland that decided to swell. it was removed.

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  8. 8
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    At age 23 I found out that I had not been expected to live past 18, I thanked my Dr for not telling me back then. He said I was too stubborn to let it get me.

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  9. 9
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Child

    Celebration

    After many miscarriages I had a wonderful baby girl (also stubborn) at age 30. It is very difficult for those of us treated for thyroid cancer in the early days to carry a child to term. Thyroid levels are critical to having children and she had to have been hanging on tight :)

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  10. 10
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Bone thinning (osteoporosis)

    Side Effects

    I had a Hyper Parathyroid in 2009 which is a side affect of the amount of treatment and surgery around my neck. This had to have been going on for several years before it was found. Hyper parathyroid takes the calcium from your bones and basses it through your kidneys. I now have osteoporosis and a kidney stone left over from this - we watch my calcium levels, if my calcium is low I get muscle spasms. This is a problem that those of use with neck treatment need to look into - it was my "something is not right" conversation. I had a doctor who listened and sent me to a specialist who listened

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  11. 11
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Headache - Pseudotumor Cerebri

    Side Effects

    I have had this headache for more than a year. I have had many migraines in my life but this is no migraine. I had to go find a specialist for diagnosis and treatment. Pseudotumor cerebri literally means "false brain tumor." It is likely due to high pressure within the skull caused by the buildup or poor absorption of cerebrospinal fluid. I have on of my main arteries in my neck is very restricted, this is probably what is causing this. We don't know if the restriction is from treatment or I was born with it.

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  12. 12
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    THANK YOU

    Celebration

    I want to thank you all for allowing me to share my experiences from being treated in the mid 1070's and again 30 years after. I feel so blessed to have been able to help so many friends with this strange life. I have had friends who fought hard and did not make it but many more have fought and won. I am not an expert but I was not expected to live past 18 and I am now 53 - something went right, my Dr said I was stubborn so be STUBBORN and laugh

    1 Comment
  13. 13
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Mouth dryness

    Side Effects

    The Radioactive Iodine that is used to treat Thyroid Cancer will burn your saliva glands if you do not suck on VERY sour things during the treatment. They did not know this when I first had the treatment.

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  14. 14
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Hot flashes

    Side Effects

    Thyroid imbalance: High thyroid will cause your temperature to be unstable. If you are on replacement thyroid this is one of the indications that you need to have the levels checked. However you do need to have your Thyroid level higher if you have had Thyroid cancer to reduce the risk of lymph nodes being triggered to respond as thyroid when the endocrine system calls for this hormone.

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  15. 15
    • Tracy
    • Experience with Thyroid Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    Tracy's Avatar

    Infertility (unable to have children)

    Side Effects

    Thyroid levels are critical to keeping a pregnancy to term. I was not aware of this and miscarried multiple times. If you have had thyroid cancer and wish to have children make sure that you have your thyroid checked regularly and never miss or be late with your thyroid medication. Take every day at the same time (morning is best) and wait one hour before food, which is tough with morning sickness.

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