Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Yes, ladies and gents, its that special time of year, when the kiddies are headed back to school, the weather suddenly changes, and we make the world more aware about the ever increasing threat of thyroid cancer.

I'm not sure what you all like to do, but I usually post a note of facebook every year for all my friends. Its my third year doing it, and it always seems like a couple more people read every year. If you'd like to post something on your own wall, but don't know what to write or just don't feel like writing feel free to use mine, and let me know if you think there should be anything else in it for the average non-thycan to know:

" It's September once again, meaning it's time for me to make my yearly public announcement about thyroid cancer. So, here it is again, my thyca spiel:

First a bit about thyca… Currently its one of the few cancers in the world that is actually continues to increase. A record 37,340 people are expected to be diagnosed the U.S. alone over the next year. There are actually a few types of thyca, that vary in degrees of aggressiveness, etc. For me I have Papillary with a couple of other adjectives attached that I just tend not to pay attention to. It starts off as abnormalities in the thyroid, and can then spread to the lymph nodes, and if left untreated, the bones and lungs. Unlike every other cancer that spreads to lymph nodes, its not as vicious, nor does it spread as aggressively… its sort of a lazy cancer in the respect (I didn’t come up with that… that’s just how a doctor told it to me). No one is really sure what the cause of thyca is. It’s linked to nuclear radiation, and genetics, usually affecting woman over the age of about 45 (please note I really do tend to be more of a freak case diagnosed at 21 w/ no family history or any rhyme or reason for it).

The plus side: thyca is totally treatable and most of the time not deadly, unless it goes a long time w/ out diagnosis or you are really, really old… (like Judge Rehnquist)

The negative side: Its sort of a permanent thing. Most of what your everyday person thinks about cancer is that you have it, you get treatment, it goes into remission, and disappears forever. I’ve personally never even heard the term “remission” when it comes to thyca… you have it or you don’t, and you have to do blood work, etc. now until the end of time. And for most, but most likely all of us, we lose our thyroids. That’s an entire organ, gone… a rather important one at that… controls metabolism and all that’s tied in with it… but we take pills and more or less function “normally.”

Treatment is pretty basic. Surgery and Radiation. NOT CHEMO… that’s actually something entirely different… and generally doesn’t work on thyca. The radiation is done via I-131 (radioactive iodine) taken in a pill. There’s a rather frustrating diet that gets tacked along w/ it, called the Low Iodine Diet. Here is where, even in the past 4 years, there have been major improvements in treatment. The first couple of times I had to do the diet and radiation I had to also go off all meds, sending me into a state known as hypothyroidism… basically shutting down my metabolism. Hypo-hell, as it is commonly referred to as, is easily the worst experience you can go through… doctors have now developed a shot that, while for some people messes w/ their stomach, means you don’t have to go off of your meds, keeping you more or less normal. So those of you with income jobs looking for something to donate money to, might want to peruse the page… trust me, the research is for a good cause.

So what do I want you to do:
Be ALERT. Check your neck, next time you go into your doctor make sure he just gives your neck a quick look. The signs of thyca include a lump on your throat, swollen lymph nodes, weight gain, hoarseness to your voice (or general voice changes), or just a general slow down. Now like I said, I’m not trying to promote paranoia… just awareness. Its not something we can prevent… at least not yet… but it is something that can be treated.

Thank you all for reading. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message or check out or join the Thyroid Cancer Awareness group under the Causes application… where you can read stories from other young survivors.

So, pass along the word... Thanks!"

In other thyca related events, the annual thyca conference is in Boston this year, October 16-18. I'm slowly trying to figure out how to get myself there, and recommend, if you have the time and money, you also check it out.

Also my apologies for not posting lately. I've been uber busy... to such a point that I might even actually tell you about my real life.... ooooooooo


Anonymous said...

I just recently found your blog, and I can relate so much. I was first diagnosed with Thyca at the age of 20, right before I started my junior year of college. Had the surgery and RAI. Did well for a few years, aside from hypothyroidism that wasn't well controlled (gained a ton weight, ugh). Then, at age 26, I had a recurrence. Another surgery, this time with neck dissection, as it had spread to my lymph nodes and parathyroid glands. More RAI. A year later, more RAI. And now here I am, at 28, having dealt with this for 8 years, and I still have cancer markers, uptake on my scans, and tissue in my neck. At this point, I am just closely monitored (now at MD Anderson), with no end in sight. Just wanted to let you know that there was someone else out there that could sympathize. Take care.

Megan said...

Thank you for posting this. It seems more and more people I know are being diagnosed with thyroid problems and I think part of it is just being more aware through my experience with thyca.

Charlcie Steuble said...

Hey, great post about Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month! Lots of understandable info for everyone plus your own story. :)

Laura said...


I work for the health videos site and I wanted to add to the discussion by posting a link to our videos about thyroid cancer. Since Thyroid Awareness Month is approaching in January we are adding even more to this topic page. Check out the videos here...

we update daily, so check back!