Each year over 2,000 people in the U.S. die from thyroid cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Many more become survivors of the disease. The rates for thyroid cancer are increasing each year in this country, probably because of better diagnostic techniques. What is life like as a thyroid cancer survivor? Find out first hand from three people who have lived to tell their story.
Melissa Salvatore found out she had thyroid cancer during an annual physical. She states in an interview with Media Planet that she didn’t know much about the thyroid at the time or what having this form of cancer would mean for her life. She went online to learn more about what was happening to her body.
Her treatment started with radioactive iodine and three days of isolation. The iodine helped pinpoint metastasis of cancer and a full body scan showed it was now in her lungs, as well. Another round of radioactive iodine and isolation from her family and friends provided positive results. The cancer in her lungs disappeared. The removal of her thyroid gland means she must take replacement hormones for the rest of her life, one she hopes will be long and happy.
For Beth, the news that she had thyroid cancer came after the premature delivery of her daughter Keisha. Beth hada rare form of the disease called hyperparathyroidism.
She had been battling another medical problem that led to kidney stones and even a miscarriage, so Keisha was her miracle baby, as it turns out in more ways than one. If she had never had Keisha, she would not have known she had cancer.
Today, after surgery to remove her thyroid and chemotherapy, she is both a survivor and a mother.
Although thyroid cancer is more common in women, men are at risk, as well. Garyfound out he had the disease when he went to the doctor for a recurring a sore throat. A CT scan showed an area of concern in his neck and needle biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.
It took 10 hours in the operating room for surgeons to remove Gary’s thyroid and several affected lymph glands. He also underwent chemotherapy treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Today, he serves as a cancer ambassador warning others about this disease.
What’s It Like to Live as a Survivor?
Formost people diagnosed with thyroid cancer,treatment involves surgery to remove the gland and, unless there are clear margins,a therapy designed to destroy cancer cells.It’s a stressful time both physically and emotionally. Some survivors have to undergo regular therapies because the cancer never goes away completely.
The loss of the thyroid gland does have an impact on the body, but a survivable one. After removal of the thyroid, you must take synthetic thyroid hormones to help regulate the metabolism.Some might benefit from certain nutritional supplements that improve other areas, as well, like hair and nails. Of course, speak to your doctor before taking any supplements.
The good news is the death rate for thyroid cancer with proper diagnosis and early detection is low.Symptoms include:
A lump in the neck that you can feel through your skin
Changes in your voice
Pain in the neck or throat
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, it’s time to see your doctor to rule out thyroid cancer.
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