Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

A designation of “Awareness Month” gives voice to survivors of their given affliction. It also opens communication for caregivers or those working to cure or prevent harm from said disease or trauma, or those who mourn a loved one who may have lost their battle.

Interested parties can speak about their challenges and bring light to the subject, gain support in coping with disease, or raise funds for the aid of improving quality of life. It can be a time of action, a time of memorial, or both.

There are 12 months in every year, and hundreds of diseases or reasons to raise awareness, but for the purpose of this blog I will choose the one that weighs on my mind every day: September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. 

I typically spend my advocacy time on melanoma skin cancer because it is a disease which is highly preventable.  Thyroid cancer however, as is with most cancers, is simply a "luck of the draw" or chance happening in the body, either from genetic or environmental factors, or both, or neither.
I can't sit here and tell you how to NOT get thyroid cancer.  But I can be open in talking about my experience with it, try to raise awareness and help others find camaraderie when faced with this frightening diagnosis, and let others know that it is NOT "the easy cancer" - there is nothing easy about having cancer.
A few months into my melanoma diagnosis, I was diagnosed with a second "primary" cancer, a tumor on my thyroid gland.  It appeared on my CT scans for melanoma and I was instantly referred to the head of Head & Neck Surgery at Sunnybrook, in late September, 2014.  I had surgery to remove the tumor - and my thyroid gland as well as 2 of 4 parathyroid.

I thought I would re-cap the highlights of my journey through thyroid cancer, for anyone who may wish to hear more about it, or may wish to connect if they are in the same boat.  I had thyroidectomy in December 2014, I had radioactive iodine treatment in March 2015, I take Levothyroxine Sodium 200 mcg daily (one hour before coffee every morning!) for thyroid hormone replacement plus TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) suppression (due to my intermediate-risk of recurrence).  And I feel the effects of all of this every day of my life.

I continue to learn about this disease and it's permanent effects on the body, and I usually update those findings here.

Here is a re-cap of links from my thyroid cancer journey since September 2014, articles which contain links to even more information beyond my experience:

Well... THAT happened.

Dreaming of morning coffee on a sunny day

Lymph Nodes

Radioactive Iodine Treatment, Part 1

Low Iodine Diet

Highs/Lows of my 2-week LID

Radioactive Iodine Treatment, Part 2 

Radioactive Iodine Treatment, Part 3

Life After Thyroid Cancer 

Nuclear Medicine Scan - Thyroid 

I Am A Special Snowflake

I have heard that some people consider - or even say out loud! - that thyroid cancer is "the EASY cancer."  That it can be treated and you're done with it.  

Thankfully I haven't had too many people actually say that to me, but apparently it is out there.  Having been through what I've been though, I can't imagine, but anyway... For my small part of bringing awareness during this, Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, I will be using the hashtag #NoCancerIsGood #nocancerisgood #NOcancerisgood  

Shoutout to fellow ThyCa's out there - you're not alone!

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