My name is Dori, and I'm a papillary thyroid cancer survivor/fighter. I'm 26 now, but was diagnosed at 17. My 10th cancerversary will be on June 1, 2016.
My diagnosis was actually by accident. I started to feel swelling and inflammation at the base of my neck during the week of my finals for senior year. I was stressing out, and it was very uncomfortable to move around, sleep, and sit in certain ways. It wasn't fun at all. My mom thought I might be sick or had a swollen lymph node. Of course, I had no idea what was going on and was very worried. My sister, Janina, took me to see my pediatrician, and he gave me a prescription for antibiotics to help with what he said was "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis." I had no idea what this was, and was scared. He told me that if the antibiotics didn't help, they might have to remove my thyroid. I, of course, put my hand over my neck and was like, "Oh, heck no you aren't!" Little did I know...
My sister asked for an ultrasound script, just to be sure that there wasn't anything else wrong with my thyroid. The doctor agreed and filled one out. That same week I got the ultrasound, and the results were sent to a head/neck doctor at a local hospital. I met with the doctor, and he told me I had a singular nodule about 1cm in the left thyroid bed. He biopsied it, and I had to wait for a week to get my results. That week took FOREVER.
Of course, as you can see, my results were not good. I had my first surgery to remove my entire thyroid and ten lymph nodes in late June, and six weeks after had my first RAI treatment of 150 millicuries. At that time, they isolated us in the hospital during treatment. I had no idea what to expect, and it was the hardest 2 days for me. I was a very social person and always needed people around me. I was rarely alone, and loved it. Being separated from everyone -- even the nurses -- was painful for me. I had the hospital phone, sure, but it was wrapped up in plastic wrap. As were the handles on the bed. The door handles to the bathroom, toilet, and sink all had purple gloves on them. I felt like the girl in the plastic bubble. When I finally got out, I still had to stay 6 feet away from people. It was quite funny, because I would yell, "I'M COMING DOWN TO GET SOME FOOD!" One of my family members would yell, "OK! WE'RE LEAVING!" Then I'd hear them run down to the basement so I could go to the kitchen. That was one of a few things that amused me during this time.
I had a second treatment in January 2007, and was told my nuclear scan was clean in the spring. In fall 2007, my blood work told my doctor otherwise, and I had to go in for a PET/CT scan. Two lymph nodes out of 29 were malignant for metastatic thyroid cancer. They basically emptied the left side of my neck.
As of now, my bloodwork been fluctuating. I'm around a 4 right now with my thyroglobulin, so there's cancer still in my system, but it's a matter of finding it and getting it out. The "magic" number is 10, so my endocrinologist is just watching me right now. I see her every 6 months and get ultrasounds. I get thyrogen every other visit. I honestly want it to be over and hate being stuck in cancer limbo.
So, what are your cancer stories? Let's connect and unite as thyca survivors!