I was diagnosed with a papillary thyroid cancer 10 years ago when I was 31.
I’d had laryngitis on and off for a while, but as I’m a receptionist I put it down to talking too much. As my husband and I were going overseas for a month, I had it checked out so I could get any prescriptions I needed here. The doctor felt a lump in my neck and sent me for an ultrasound.
I could tell by the technician’s face that something was wrong. He called a doctor, who immediately did a fine needle biopsy. The next day, I was told I had cancer – all from a little lump I couldn’t even feel or see.
My doctor referred me to a specialist who said that as it’s a fairly slow-growing cancer, to have my holiday and he’d operate when I returned. A couple of weeks after coming back, I had a total thyroidectomy. I had no real side effects other than a scar, which has faded. I recovered quickly and was back at work after a couple of weeks.
After the surgery I was put on thyroxine to get my hormones stable. Two months later, I had the radioactive iodine. I was in hospital for two nights while I was radioactive, and then at home I had to follow all the precautionary safety measures, such as sleeping separately from my partner.
I now have thyroxine once a day in the morning. I was really tired until the dose was right.
Some people say that thyroid cancer is a good cancer to get. I know that their hearts are in the right place, and yes, it is a ‘good’ cancer because the remission rate is pretty high, but it’s still cancer. The diagnosis has reminded me to appreciate the small things in life.
A/Prof Diana Learoyd, Endocrinologist, Northern Cancer Institute, and Northern Clinical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Gabrielle Cehic, Nuclear Medicine Physician and Oncologist, South Australia Medical Imaging (SAMI), and Senior Staff Specialist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, SA; Dr Kiernan Hughes, Endocrinologist, Northern Endocrine and St Vincents Hospital, NSW; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Christine Lai, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Breast and Endocrine Surgical Unit, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Surgery, University of Adelaide, SA; A/Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician and Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics, and The University of Western Australia, WA; Ilona Lillington, Clinical Nurse Consultant (Thyroid and Brachytherapy), Cancer Care Services, Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, QLD; Jonathan Park, Consumer.
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