I am both excited and nervous to report that on September 30th, I will be running my first half-marathon! I chose this challenge not just as a personal goal, but as a platform to raise money for thyroid cancer research.
You may or may not be aware, but in October of 2017, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and within two weeks, my thyroid and four “suspicious-looking” lymph nodes were removed. Pathology revealed that although the initial tumor was small, the cancer had spread to three of those lymph nodes. It was recommended that I undergo a radioactive iodine treatment with the goal of destroying any possible remaining cancerous thyroid cells that may be left over from the surgery and could potentially spread elsewhere.
At the end of December 2017 I took the radioactive iodine pill and due to the young age of my son, I had to be in isolation for nine days! I was able to stay in my parents’ house for the duration, in isolation from them for the first six days then returning home on Day 10.
My Whole Body Scan the following day turned out to be clear, meaning the treatment worked and follow up labs this past June revealed that the cancer was indeed still destroyed!
Writing this seems simple today, but the sudden anxiety of the unknown and constant questions turned our world upside down last year. The helplessness was all encompassing. Papillary thyroid cancer has a 98% cure rate, and I know that throughout the entire journey I had excellent care, yet I was riddled with fear and feeling guilty at the same time. Of all the types of cancer to have, why did I get the “easy” one? No chemo required, excellent prognosis, how could I be so lucky? I don’t deserve to be anxious, it could be so much worse. I wrestled with these feelings for months.
Thankfully, I was able to overcome this mental spiral with the tremendous support and love of family and friends but also with phenomenal medical care. My primary care provider and endocrinologist at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, my surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and the radiation oncology team at Elliot Hospital all combined to save my life. And here I am, nearly one year later, training to run my first half marathon.
Although I was “lucky” to “only” have PTC, there are other types of thyroid cancers that have fair and poor prognoses. The patients and their families are suffering both mentally and physically and their fates are in the hands of the researchers and medical professionals working tirelessly to develop new treatment. The American Thyroid Association provides support and hope to patients of all thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers through education, communication and research funding.
Please consider donating to this amazing association in my honor! Thank you so much for reading!