It’s been three weeks since we found out that I have Thyroid Cancer. During that time it’s been a bit of a whirl wind of doctor appointments.
I had an hour long appointment with the Endocrinologist where she went over my lab report. The biopsy showed that 98% of the cells gathered were malignant in nature. So there was definitely no grey area of whether it is Cancer or not. Based on the size of the tumor, it is likely that I have had it for 8-10 years. That really took me aback. How could it be that for 8-10 years – at least nine of which I was actively being seen by military doctors for thyroid issues – was this never found? How could so many doctors see me, see my frustration, my desperation, and not do more? Especially when the test that revealed the tumor in the first place is neither invasive nor expensive – a neck ultrasound. My confusion started to burn into anger the more I thought about it.
During the Endo appointment we talked about the road ahead. During the rest of the pregnancy, I’ll be getting my labs taken every four weeks to check my hormone levels. I’ll also get neck ultrasounds every other month to check the size of the tumor, my thyroid, and the lymph nodes in my neck. This will check the growth of the tumor and whether the cancer is spreading. For more answers about my surgery, we had to wait for an appointment with the Endocrine Surgeon.
The week after diagnosis, I went for a follow up neck ultrasound. They were even more thorough than the first, and after the tech had taken all the measurements she had the radiologist come in and double check everything including the lymph nodes. The radiologist said that all of the lymph nodes looked clear to her. The final measurements from the report show that the tumor hasn’t grown since the first scan in June. It was important to get this information before we met with the surgeon.
The Endocrine Surgeon appointment was at one of the leading hospitals in the area, and she is part of a group of endocrinologists that are helping to develop a new type of biopsy for thyroid patients that can increase the probability that they will get the right kind of surgery the first time. Her resident took my history, starting from the beginning. The surgeon herself was easy to talk to. She explained that it’s reasonable to wait until after the pregnancy to have surgery. She said that it would be better to do it in the first three to four weeks postpartum – and that seems extremely early to me. I am thinking about going to get a second opinion on the timing. I realize that it’s important to have the surgery, but it’s also important to me to have a stable routine with my baby before so that I’m not trying to recover from having a baby and having an organ removed at the same time.
So for now, there’s a lot of waiting and watching to do. It’s a little unnerving for me to walk around for six or seven more months knowing that I have cancer. My emotions have been going between relief, anger and determination. Relief to have a diagnosis and know that my intuition about my health during the last few years has been right. Anger because my previous doctors and treatment facilities failed to diagnose me earlier when it could have easily been done if they were more vigilant. Determination to keep living my life as I have been – embracing every moment with my family, staying active and strong, and focusing on having a healthy pregnancy and a VBAC.