Monday, September 29, 2014

Don't worry, it's the good kind

I go back and forth...

Between feeling like cancer survivor and feeling like I am making a bigger deal out of it than I really should.

I think most people probably feel like I have made a bigger deal out of it than I should have.

News of thyroid cancer is almost always accompanied by the phrase "well if you are going to get cancer, that's the one you want to get." And I get what people are trying to say. I am very thankful that my cancer had a great prognosis and cure rate. But you know what as an even better cure rate? Not having cancer.

Since when did I HAVE to get cancer at 26?! Who made up that rule?



When I was first diagnosed, I got a phone call from our pastor. He talked to me for about 60 seconds before he rushed off the phone. And pretty much the only thing he said to me was "they say if you are going to get cancer, that's the one you want to get." Then he hung up the phone.

I am not sure if I will ever forget how I felt when he said that.  It was so isolating and dismissive.  I really struggled with feeling like I couldn't be afraid or sad or upset that I had cancer because it was the "good kind".

Sometimes it feels like my cancer was "too good" to lump me into the category of cancer survivor. But where does it fit in?

My aunts participate in the Relay for Life every year. I have even joined them to walk a couple of times. And they have never asked me to join them for the survivors walk. Is my defeat of cancer any different than someone who had breast cancer? Our treatments were different, yes. Mine was much easier on my body. But cancer is cancer.

I still had 2 surgeries, radiation, and semi-annual tests for my "good cancer". And I was a lucky one. Some "good" thyroid cancer doesn't respond to radiation and other than more surgery and a few medications that slow down the growth, there isn't much they can do.



I still get anxious when I have to have my ultrasound and bloodwork. Because a 5 year survival rate doesn't make me feel super great. I am hoping to live a lot longer than 5 years. Anyone else planning on dying at 31? I didn't think so.

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month and it basically gets ZERO press. I'm sure part of it is because not many people know about it and part of it is because who cares about the "good" cancer.

I have no thyroid as a result of my cancer. Currently I take 3 medications to supplement my thyroid. They total about $40 a month. That's $480 a year, after insurance. If I take too much, I get heart palpitations, my hair can fall out, and I can't sleep. Not enough and my cancer can come back on top of the fact I will feel like garbage, gain weight, and get muscle cramps. The higher thyroid levels I need to keep the cancer from coming back leaches calcium meaning I'm at a higher risk for osteoporosis.  My ultrasound and blood work check ups cost $200 each time. Changing thyroid levels (which mine have to adjusted like crazy when I am pregnant) affect your vision. My eye sight has been the same for like 7 years but all of a sudden (post Henry) my prescription changed.

Did you know that cancer doubles your risk of filing for bankruptcy? And thyroid cancer in young women makes up the number one cancer than causes bankruptcy.

The only lasting physical sign of my "good" cancer is my neck scar. And it is fading. But I see it. I see the weird way the skin on my neck moved thanks to no thyroid and scar tissue. It's weird.

{Look at my neck.  It's the dumbest thing to notice, but it's weird}

One of the hardest parts of thyroid cancer in my opinion is how it gets brushed off.  It's the "good" kind, after all...

There is no "good" cancer.




Like all cancers, early detection is important.  Be informed.  And check your neck.


3 comments:

  1. I dont think you make a bigger deal about surviving cancer than you should! Its a big deal and a huge accomplishment that some people arent soo lucky to do! Your life will forever be changed because of cancer! Love his shirt!!

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  2. I think cancer is ALWAYS a huge deal! Nobody wants to get any kind of cancer! One reason that people feel this way may be that thyroid cancer isn't as "popular" as breast cancer. I don't mean people LIKE breast cancer, but most people by now are familiar with it. Whenever a woman in a TV show has cancer, it is usually breast cancer. There are huge walks and all sorts of pink products and images of brave, smiling women who have survived it. And, like, its BREASTS, so people are more, "OMG it is breasts!" Maybe you could start some kind of awareness campaign for thyroid cancer. I know if I was diagnosed with it, I'd be terrified, and I wouldn't want people acting like it was no big deal!

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  3. I'm so sorry you feel like your cancer doesn't get noticed and that you don't feel like a proper Cancer Survivor ... but you completely are. Everyone is different and cancer is cancer and it sucks. No one should have to get cancer and be faced with that diagnosis, especially not at such a young age.

    Thank you for raising awareness for this and it is survivors of thyroid cancer like yourself, who need to push for this to become more topical and relevant and noticed. The loudest voices get heard, sadly, so make sure yours sings loud!!

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