Life With Thyroid Cancer

After being misdiagnosed for years, Danielle was eventually told that she had thyroid cancer. Now, as she fights for health and her life, she urges everyone to listen to their body and check their necks. Read on to learn more about her story and learn about the signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer.

This is my story:

In July of 2012, I was diagnosed with Metastatic Papillary Carcinoma Thyroid Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Hashimoto's Disease. For many years I was misdiagnosed, but it was in the last year that I knew something wasn't right. I began suffocating, couldn't swallow water, and had hoarse voice. For two months I suffered. The endocrinologist who happened to be the chief at my local hospital misdiagnosed me and brushed me off. Listening to my gut instinct, I decided to make an appointment at another hospital. I remember smiling weeks after my diagnosis because I finally had an answer.

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Metastatic Thyroid Cancer and that was only the beginning. I had a total thyroidectomy in August 2012 and the cancer had spread to both of my lungs. Once I finished the Low Iodine Diet and Radio Active Iodine treatment, I began having problems eating and my face would swell up. It turned out that my salivary glands have been destroyed and “burnt” as my doctor called it.

In August of 2013, I was diagnosed with Salivary Gland Disease. I had a Salivary Endoscopy procedure done to help with the pain but unfortunately the procedure didn't cease the pain. My doctor said he wasn't surprised that this treatment didn't work because of the severity of how bad my glands had become. Currently, I have 3 options left: 1) Suffer in pain 2) Radiation 3) Salivary gland surgery. The pain I feel now is extraordinary, so I feel as though I have no choice but to have something be done about it. My biggest fear about radiation is that it may spread the cancer. On the other hand, if I get my salivary glands removed, I will have no saliva and I will be very dehydrated for the rest of my life. In addition, I'll have to worry about facial nerve damage caused by this major surgery.

I have to tell you, this journey is one heck of a road. I try my best to stay as positive as I can. I still cannot believe I made it this far especially with so much going on. So when I am having a rough day like today, I think about how far I came in this journey. How I will make it. How someday I will be cancer free.

I am no doctor, nor will I ever be. I am just a Thyroid Cancer fighter who wants to spread as much awareness as possible. Spread the word and get your necks checked!

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located below the Adam's Apple at the base of your throat. The thyroid is an endocrine gland that stores and produces hormones which affects every part of the human body. It also regulates metabolism and body weight.

For those without a thyroid due to thyroid cancer, either they've had a total thyroidectomy (complete thyroid removal) or a partial thyroidectomy. In both cases, one has to take a thyroid hormone replacement for the rest of your life.

Hypothyroidism is when a person has an underactive thyroid (the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of the important hormones). Based on blood work results, the doctor will put a patient on a thyroid hormone replacement. Hyperthyroidism is when a person has an overactive thyroid (the body produces too much of the thyroid hormones). A patient would experience symptoms such as sudden weight loss, feel hyper, feel nervous, and irritable. In this case, the doctor would put a patient on an anti-thyroid medication to slow down production of the thyroid hormones.

A few tips:

Even though standard blood work results can show up normal, a person may still have Thyroid Cancer. This is why I'm an advocate of getting a neck ultrasound if you feel as though you may be at risk. Because this type of cancer can be easily misdiagnosed, I urge everyone to not only get second opinions, but to follow their intuition.

Here are a few Thyroid Cancer Symptoms:

  • lump or swelling in the neck
  • trouble swallowing
  • hoarse voice
  • trouble breathing or wheezing
  • frequent cough that is not related to a cold

Remember each person is different and has their own journey. Only you know your body so I urge everyone to get a neck ultrasound since Thyroid Cancer is becoming more common. Who would have thought that this tiny little gland does so much for ones body?

TO ALL MY THYROID BUDDIES: Don't give up, even on your darkest days. We will beat this!!

Are you a Thyroid Cancer fighter, survivor or supporter? Share your journey in the comments below


(Images courtesy of I Had Cancer)