Friday, September 18, 2015

oh how i hate hearing these words: " oh, you have thyroid cancer? aren't you lucky to have the good cancer!"

unfortunately i heard those words YET AGAIN this week. and it was from a friend of mine who is a doctor. for me, hearing this from someone in the health care field is more frustrating than hearing it from someone who is not a health care professional. perhaps i just expect more compassion and understanding from someone in health care, but that is not always the case.

i did not hear these dreaded words  from my endocrinologist. she is very caring and understanding about thyroid cancer and the challenges that thyroid cancer patients face every day. i had to miss my big six month check up this past april, due to my breast cancer diagnosis. i will see my endocrinologist next month, though, and get one check up in this year. i am more nervous( than usual)  about this check up, i guess. having had another primary cancer i can not help but worry about how my thyroid cancer is doing. my surgeons reassured me that the cancer cells that they found in my breasts were not thyroid cancer cells, meaning that my thyroid cancer had not spread there. i do know that if you have had  thyroid cancer you have a fairly significant risk for other cancers. yet another worry for us .i would guess that these primary cancers occur , in part, by a weakened immune system. this is not fact, just my opinion.

here are some facts, though about thyroid cancer( and why it is not the good cancer). according to the american cancer society, there will be approximately 63,000 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2015. of these, 2,000 people will die of thyroid cancer in 2015. thyroid cancer  is the fastest growing cancer now. not the highest number of cases( yet), but one of the few cancers to have an increase in  incidence rates. thyroid cancer affects all age groups- from children to senior citizens. interestingly to me, the number of cases of women with thyroid cancer was about three times more than men. i have not read any theories as to why this is.

in a huffington post article, by anna almendrala, dr. allan ho, md, who is a medical oncologist at memorial sloan kettering cancer center is quoted as saying " recurrence can occur in about 10-30% of thyroid cancer patients, and take place 10-20 years after treatment.  the excellent survival rate associated with most thyroid cancer eclipses the hardships patients go through in treatment and lifelong maintenance of the disease." i am sure if you, like me, have sweated the six month ultrasound tests, and the blood work to test for the presence of thyroglobulins, that quote hits home. also worrisome is the fact that NO HORMONE SUPPLEMENT, either " natural" or synthetic can do what that little butterfly shaped gland  can do for our bodies. it is a constant struggle for most people, from what i have read, to discover what medication and dose works best for them.

if after reading this blog, and the few facts about thyroid cancer that  i have reported, you can still call thyroid cancer the " good cancer", then i suggest that either you do further reading ( the online source called thyca is a good choice) or by all means, talk to a thyroid cancer survivor. we can fill you in on the daily struggles of this disease and the struggles to help people understand what thyroid cancer patients live with, basically, for the rest of our lives. no cancer should ever be called the " good cancer". as a thyroid cancer survivor AND a breast cancer survivor i can assure you that i wish  i had had neither one.