In March 2010, I was given the diagnosis of multifocal papillary thyroid cancer. Since that time, a few well-intentioned people have said “at least you have the good type of cancer”. I’m here to tell you there is no good type of cancer.
Put another way, no news of cancer is good news. It is not something any of us want to hear from a doctor about ourselves or a loved one. (I imagine the physician also doesn’t like sharing the news.)
Once a cancer label is applied, you are never viewed the same by insurance companies, doctors, or even by yourself. I kid you not. My self-image and level of self-care changed with the diagnosis. The remainder of my life is lived carefully structured to suppress thyroid cancer.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is the start of a journey. Each of us with a particular form of cancer can find other survivors and warriors who have been on similar paths. Each person’s story is their’s. Each cancer responds to different treatments. Each of us responds differently to the diagnosis.
Why am I sharing this here?
This site is about sparking thoughts and sharing ideas that can improve lives. What I try to share here is supportive information. It comes from my experiences – both personal and professional experiences. It comes from my desire to learn more about myself, my clients, my world.
Thyroid cancer is being diagnosed more frequently than before. Whether it is because of increased incidence or better tools for diagnosing, it doesn’t matter. There are things you can do to support thyroid health. Take the time to learn about them. (Ladies: ask for a thyroid collar when you have a mammogram if it isn’t offered to you.)
…hear someone has cancer, listen to them. Ask how you can support them. Don’t tell them they will be fine. That may or may not be true.
… have or do receive a cancer diagnosis, know that you are not in this alone. There are support networks in communities and on-line. There you can meet people who can assist you in knowing what questions to ask, what you might expect, and hear the good/bad of what people experience.
…have a loved one who receives a diagnosis, know that the support is also there for you. And, it is important you or someone be with us at doctor visits. Often in the course of treatment, our processing skills change. (Chemo brain does exist. Thyroid survivors often report hypo states often used for testing and treatment change our thoughts.)
…have a little extra cash, consider supporting cancer research. The effective, safe treatment of the diagnosis along with prevention is important at so many levels.
…get a diagnosis, asks about treatment options and the pros and cons of each. I opted for a protocol that made sense to me and my life rather than the protocol that made it easy on the doctor to follow me. I requested a second opinion that happened to support my right to choose and helped me create an informed plan of care.
…are dealing with a diagnosis (even as a caregiver), remember mental health support is there. Ask for it. Sometimes we need to be able to vent our fears and concerns without worrying how the other person will feel. Sometimes we need others to assist us in coping with the changes and the process.
Remember, there is no good type of cancer, but…
…we can live with a diagnosis. The diagnosis doesn’t define us, it is just a part of our description.
I’m still me – a unique, creative being who loves people and sharing music. I can still see the bright side of life. I can still be an inquisitive learner.
Self care and finding moments of joy is important in all lives whether we carry a cancer diagnosis. Join me in living a healthy informed life. Join me in living the moment.