Two years ago today I had my throat cut open at 20 weeks pregnant.
The doctors removed my thyroid and over 30 lymph nodes. It took six hours for them to finish surgery because the cancer was so close to my jugular vein. The cancer was in both nodes of my Thyroid and has spread to five lymph nodes.
Six months before that I had felt a lump in my neck. I figured it was a lymph node and would work itself out. Six weeks later it was still there. I finally went to the doctor expecting them to dismiss it and send me home but the look on the PA’s face as she felt my neck made my stomach drop.
Pretty soon there were three medical professionals in the room, asking questions and poking me. They immediately sent me to have an ultrasound and the results from that test made them order a needle biopsy.
I was walking out the door on my way to work when I got the phone call asking me to come in to the doctor’s office for my results. I knew it was cancer when they wouldn’t tell me over the phone.
The next few weeks were a blur of doctor’s visits, specialists and appointments. But it all came to a halt when I took a pregnancy test that came out positive.
We were supposed to be done having kids. We had two, a girl and a boy, and my husband was scheduled for a vasectomy. I couldn’t believe that I was pregnant again, on top of a cancer diagnosis, it didn’t seem fair.
I didn’t know what to do. Could I keep the baby? Was the baby at risk? Would this affect my pregnancy? Was I risking my life by delaying treatment?
I decided to see a specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the best teaching hospital in our area. The endocrinologist and surgeon both assured me that surgery could wait until the baby was further along and that we would both be fine.
So wait we did.
At 20 weeks pregnant I finally went into the hospital for surgery. It was a success. I was told to go home, grow a healthy baby and come back for follow up treatment when she was weaned.
My daughter was born in June 2015, a happy and very healthy girl. It was a very difficult pregnancy but an easy, pretty quick birth of an easy, laid back baby. I planned to nurse for a year and then start weaning her.
But it is hard to wean your last baby. Hard to say no to that perfect little face. Hard to give up the sleepy, quiet snuggles. So we kept going. She got to nurse for 18 months before we finally called it quits.
Now I am preparing for Radioactive Iodine treatment this Spring. I am looking forward to being done with this whole journey. Being able to say I am finally Cancer Free!
Thyroid Cancer is the fastest increasing cancer among both men and women. It affects people of all ages but luckily, is very treatable. Many doctors told me it was “the good kind of cancer.” I hate that term but they are right. With the treatments available it has a 94% survival rate.
Still, if you feel a lump in your neck or have trouble swallowing, please visit your doctor right away. They can do a quick neck check to see if there is a reason to worry. Don’t wait like I did!
For more information visit ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association Inc.