Look Man, No Thyroid!

I think thyroids are the next tonsils.

As in, “Well it’s your twentieth birthday. Time to get your thyroid removed.”

That leaves a year for them to get the Synthroid right before you start imbibing in other drugs. Ever since I had my thyroid removed a year ago, I’ve heard about more people with thyroid problems, or scars just like mine, even as recently as last night. I hate to admit that my first question is not, “how are you doing?”, it’s “who you getting to do the surgery?” or “wanna see my scar?”

At least in my head. Usually there’s a relay somewhere that kicks into place that prevents these kinds of inane questions from spilling out.

I had thyroid cancer, and Hoshimotos, plus hyperparathyroidism (the exact opposite of what Randy had on Home Improvement). My “very special episode” was a year ago this Sunday. The James Cancer hospital has been sending me mail, asking me to go to support groups, or a Cancer Survivor’s tailgate.

I’m watching the game at home.

As I talked about six months ago, I had a “brush with cancer“, lowercase c. I don’t feel part of this community. In fact I’m not exactly sure what community I’m a part of (all I know is Catherine Bell had pretty much the same thing and starred on JAG for eight years).

They said my scar would get better, and it has, but not as much as I’d like. It twitches, it’s uncomfortable under shirts, and it’s a little obvious when not under shirts. And the surgery it represents saved my life. I get a few more headaches than I used to, and if I don’t keep the synthroid steady I pay for it with tired sluggish days, but otherwise things are the same.

I’m certainly grateful, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t know what to make of having “cancer” at 26, or not really being able to call it cancer. I don’t talk about it much, but I think about it. But my thinking isn’t really going anywhere. I’m kind of in a loop, waiting til the day my scar fades enough that I can forget about it.

I feel like having thyroid cancer is a trial run for what a real crisis will be like. You have lasting reminders, the pills you take every day (green now instead of purple), and a scar that realistically will take years to fade. You have a fair bit of uncertainty that comes with any surgery. But you don’t do chemo, you don’t even usually have to do radiation (I haven’t). I didn’t lose my hair, my appetite, or miss much work. I do quarterly blood draws, and gets some regular checkups and that’s it. No real worries about recurrence, few daily physical impacts. You really should try it. It’s fun on the bun.

Sensed a bit of gallows humor yet? When I had the cancer I got a box of milk duds and joked that they were cancer bites, since they were about the right size. Very inappropriate I know.

Maybe in another six months I’ll have more to say, but I’m not sure. It’s hard to know in life which experiences you should just let fade away, and which you should hold onto, try to learn from. I am technically a “cancer survivor”.

Maybe one of these days I won’t need the quotes.

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2 Comments

Filed under Faith + Life

2 responses to “Look Man, No Thyroid!

  1. Pass the cancer bites, ya thyroidless freak!

    Ok, fine, I’m glad you survived and all that. Just don’t expect any hugs. 😉

  2. Maybe you and I could start a “Technically a Cancer Survivor” support group. I had surgery for skin cancer when I was 6 months pregnant – I now have this atrocious scar down the back of my arm. I was lucky they found it when they did. And they only figured out what was wrong because I was pregnant and had to go to the doctor for checkups.
    Glad you’re (mostly) feeling better! 😀

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