September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month | What Is Thyroid Cancer?
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. I spread awareness about Thyroid Cancer every month, but this month is even more significant to me. Thyroid Cancer is the most common endocrine cancer, and it occurs when cancer cells are found in your thyroid gland. There are four types of Thyroid Cancer: Papillary, Follicular, Medullary, and Anaplastic. Each type also has its own variants.
Many people don't realize how vital your thyroid is. Your thyroid makes essential hormones that usually help your body function daily. If your thyroid is underactive (Hypothyroidism) and isn't treated, it can lead to depression, anxiety, heart disease, pregnancy problems, tiredness, weight gain, fatigue, exhaustion, sensitivity to cold and heat, and much more. This is why I urge all of you to GET YOUR NECK CHECKED by your Doctor sooner rather than later.
A partial thyroidectomy is when your surgeon only removes half of your thyroid due to cancer. Your thyroid can produce some thyroid hormone with half of a thyroid. However, I know many patients who still need Thyroid medication daily for the rest of their lives after surgery to keep their thyroid hormone levels steady. You must take your thyroid medication if your doctor tells you to do so.
A total thyroidectomy is when you have your entire thyroid wholly removed. You will then need to be on daily thyroid hormone medication for the rest of your life to replace the natural hormones and help maintain normal metabolism to lower your risk of cancer returning. You must understand you MUST take your thyroid medication every day for the rest of your life. If you DO NOT take your daily thyroid medication, you can end up forming a life-threatening condition called a Myxedema coma over time.
Here are some signs and symptoms of Thyroid Cancer:
- Swelling in your neck
- Trouble swallowing
- Constant cough not caused by a cold
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarseness in your voice that doesn't go away
Contact your physician right away. GET YOUR NECK CHECKED! You can quickly get a HEAD/NECK Ultrasound prescription from your physician if you're experiencing any of these symptoms. They will send you to a Radiology center where you will have your ultrasound done.
Thyroid Cancer is a chronic disease that must be monitored for the rest of your life. Your medication doses will also change constantly, which your physician should discuss with you.
Did you know thyroid cancer research remains significantly underfunded by comparison, and in 2009 received only $14.7 million (ranked 30th) from the National Cancer Institute? This is unacceptable. We need to do better. We need more clinical trials and treatment options. Research is also needed to find new treatments for rarer, aggressive thyroid cancer like mine. I don't qualify for any clinical trials out there right now because there are NONE for me, especially after multiple recurrences. This is NOT acceptable. How can we do better?
Please remember one essential thing. THYROID CANCER IS NOT THE GOOD CANCER. NO CANCER IS! Telling a cancer patient that their cancer is excellent and curable is not only arrogant and ignorant when you know nothing about thyroid cancer yourself. Do yourself a favor and immediately block them for your mental health. It took me so many years to stop people. You don't deserve to be treated that way by anyone, including people you're trying to meet, family, and friends.
Read about what increasing rates of Thyroid Cancer are causing clinically and economically at the National Library of Medicine.
Here are my favorite organizations that helped me tremendously with relevant, timely resources about Thyroid Cancer. I still rely on them to this day.
If you'd like to read more from Danielle, visit her IHadCancer profile: https://www.ihadcancer.com/daniellemaria
Photo courtesy of the author.