3. Thyroid Cancer Treatment - Real Stories
You'll find many people have already walked your path. These quotes are from real people who provide real information and real comfort. Follow the stories of Anne, Grace, Annabell and Sonya and you will see there's light at the end of the tunnel. The stories will give you practical ideas to better manage your situation.
The surgery wasn’t too bad although it’s still hardest part. I found the drain a bit embarrassing. I didn’t have problems with my calcium levels, though they gave me some calcium tablets just in case.
The radioiodine was quite a hard time. I had to be isolated from my children. My children and husband moved in with my parents and I stayed at home on my own. I felt a bit lonely but my brother and husband came to visit. We talked but from a distance. I read a lot. I did a lot of thinking.
With the operation there was a lot of unknowns. I had to just hand over control to the staff and trust their professionalism and the nurses and everybody were really good. On the day there was a bit of delay waiting in line for my surgery time but I just put things to one side, did my Sudoku book and my time soon came. The most uncomfortable thing was the tight stockings they put on me afterwards!
The day after surgery I had so many visitors, friends and family and they were all really nice but I found it awful. I was just so, so exhausted. I really needed someone, a nurse, anyone, to take control and tell them that it was too much and that I just needed a rest. I really needed someone like my husband to limit the visiting. I didn’t feel able to tell people myself. I was trying to be welcoming but I was wrecked.
Once they decided I needed radioiodine, my main reaction was interest. I was curious as to how it worked and what I could or couldn’t do. It was a wee bit hard to keep a distance from my dog but otherwise it was fine. I wasn’t nervous. Once you know something has to be done, you just have to get on with it.
I felt a little bit tired having to be off the thyroxine but I wasn’t as tired as I expected.
Before the clinic, I’m always wondering what the counts are going to be. I feel ok about the blood tests and the scans. I feel a bit anxious between getting the scan done and getting the results. The worst bit is hopping on the weighing scales! I find the clinic appointments reassuring knowing that things are going as they are supposed to go. And each time they lengthen out the time between appointments, I think, "YES"!
I think 3 to 4 weeks off work was about right. I found it better to get back to normal routines.
I had thought about what might happen if things didn’t go well but I was more concerned about how it might affect others - my husband, my children - rather than be too concerned about me. I think my Faith really helped with that.
I felt really at peace going into the operation because of my own Faith. The actual operation was probably more painful than I thought. They'd had to cut some muscles to get the thyroid out. It was a really horrible ward, full of old people who snored and made lots of rude noises all night so I couldn't wait to get out of there! I was keen to get out of hospital early so I left when I still had the drain in and went to meet some friends in a cafe a day or two after the surgery, with the drain still in my neck!
I wasn't scared of the radioiodine. I was so delighted that I didn't need to be admitted to hospital for it that I was quite happy about it. It was a bit weird having to stay away from the kids but at least I was able to be at home. And I wasn't allowed to cook for three days, which was great!
My voice was really flat initially, like a monotone, and I couldn't sing for three months. But from the start, my voice was loud enough so I knew I'd be able to get back to work, which was a big relief.
They rang back to the radiology department and said, "Could you do a scan now to help us do it at the same time?" And they said, "No, we're too busy." And the whole way they handled it was beautiful. They were all lovely. But I remember thinking this is how they work. They were all so disjointed - the two departments were booked separately. They need the team working and the administrative cogs to be all aligning. And this doesn't happen.
With your family and people close to you [the illness] sometimes festers. You feel that you don't want your family to forget about it, husbands particularly. For someone who's married to [a sufferer] or who's close to [a sufferer], I would say it's sometimes harder than the person going through it because you're angry that your partner's going through it. He tries to keep normality because that's his way of dealing with it.
I have one of those little boxes that has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and I look at it and I think, "Oh God, it's like I'm 90! I think that I'll be on less [tablets] when I'm 90 than what I'm on now!"
These stories and a simple, medical explanation of the thyroid cancer journey are packed into Dr Tom's book, Thyroid Cancer: Overcoming Fear & Finding Fulfillment. The book covers essential information and practical and emotional tips to get through thyroid cancer.