Monday, August 13, 2007

Thyroid? What's a Thyroid?

Just when you think you can't handle anything else, life hands you another "WTF". After my surgery in April and a week to recover, I got a voicemail from my nurse practitioner at the oncologist office. When I called her back she was munching on her lunch. Between bites I could hear her rustling through folders trying to find my chart. She said (chewing), "Oh, hi, Hillary. We got the results back from your thyroid tests done in the hospital. Looks like you have growths on both sides of it." I was so shocked, I don't even remember hanging up the phone. I called my mom and started just sobbing. This was such a scary moment for me: I hadn't let my fears about cancer get too intertwined in my life up to this point. All I could think about was "am I going to die?", and "I can't leave my kids". Had cancer invaded my whole body?

I met with the surgeon within the next couple of days. He said the cells in the two growths on either side of my thyroid were called "follicular neoplasms" which means they can't say that they are specifically cancerous but they would have to remove the growths to be sure. He said they would try and leave half of my thyroid so I wouldn't have to take medication for the rest of my life. For those of you who don't know, the thyroid is located right below where your Adam's Apple would be, adjacent to the vocal chords.

I checked into the hospital exactly 2 weeks after the last massive surgery. This one was much less painful, but it's pretty scary when you know someone is going to slit your throat while you're unconscious. I woke up unable to talk with a sore throat like I had swallowed a cactus. Luckily for me, my surgeon was able to combine the thyroid surgery with the insertion of a port (port-a-cath, like picc line) into my chest so I could receive my chemotherapy treatments through that instead of through an IV in my arm.

My doctor came in later in the day to say that he had had to remove the entire thyroid. Unfortunate since the pathologist didn't think it was cancerous after all. Oh well, just another scar to add to the list. Besides, this one was cool. It was a 3 inch gash across the base of my throat! I was starting to look pretty tough.

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