Nine months ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Luckily it’s a very treatable cancer. The recovery process and aftermath of a diagnosis involving the “C” word makes life afterwards the same but not the same. So where am I at now? Some days I’m not even sure.
When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what the diagnosis meant. Very treatable with a 99% survival rate. But what about that 1%? What if I am that 1%? My rational mind figured the 1% also had other medical issues and complications, but there’s typically a gap between diagnosis and your first specialist visit when you learn more about treatment and prognosis and that waiting period is forever. Don’t read forums or Facebook groups unless you want to stress yourself out to the max.
After over a week I met with my surgeon and found out more information. Then I met with my endocrinologist, basically a thyroid cancer oncologist and got more information about my case. Ultimately, the entire treatment course is not set in stone until after the post-op pathology report.
One of the hardest parts or recovery sometimes is accepting that it takes a long time. The majority of recovery happens within the first six weeks after the thyroidectomy then a small amount of additional recovery after RAI (radioactive iodine treatment) if needed.
So where am I now? A lot of the initial issues with swallowing and vocal cord fatigue has subsided. Although by the end of the day talking starts to become strained. Going out after the kids go to bed anywhere with a lot of people is doable, but I’m not always able to project my voice which is annoying.
Neck muscles are delicate and take time to get strong again. I’ve been doing PT for my shoulder and the back of my neck. Since the surgery I wasn’t turning my neck much which caused some muscle tension, which lead to shoulder issues in a small domino effect. After three sessions I’ve seen improvement and full neck rotation has returned.
My scar is fading but still has a way to go, after four months it wasn’t as raised and is now flat. Since my skin is light which means the redness fades more slowly. Still occasional numbness in my jaw line, I only feel it if I press on my jaw at this point.
The main “symptoms” of life without a thyroid, for me, are a big energy dip around 2:00PM. When I can, I’ll nap for 10 minutes and feel better. Energy levels are usually the biggest issue, but for me it isn’t too extreme. It’s actually a big improvement from before the surgery when I didn’t know I was sick.
The biggest issue with where I am now is still coping with getting a Cancer diagnosis. Yes, it’s a treatable cancer and things could have been worse and, and, and… But it’s like a small cloud in your mind. Will it come back? Is it completely gone?
The mental and emotional toll are the hardest part of the recovery. For the most part, I’m doing fine. But it can put me in a funk some days. Mortality was scary before this all happened, and now it’s even more there.
For the most part just living my life, lots of snuggles with the kids, but with a small shadow of a thought in the back of my mind.