Save the Butterflies

6 Jan

January is Thyroid Awareness Month

Dear Thyroid,

Why doesn’t anyone know about you? When the surgeons removed you from my body, they told me you were 5 centimeters long. That’s 2 inches – smaller than my pinky finger – and 1 cm was taken up by papillary thyroid cancer. You were so tiny, and yet you were in charge of my body temperature, my metabolism, and regulating hormones I can’t even pronounce. As you malfunctioned, I felt a level of exhaustion I didn’t even know existed. Running, Zumba, TurboKick, counting every calorie…none of it mattered because you weren’t working. But worst of all, no one believed me.

Four different doctors rolled their eyes at me. I was told I had postpartum depression, sleep apnea, low B-12, low iron, chronic fatigue syndrome. I was even told I needed to get over my “body image issues.” No one believed me that it could be my thyroid. After all, I had no family history. None that I knew of, anyway.

It took me 18 months of fighting to get my papillary thyroid cancer diagnosis. Since I was diagnosed, my mother and aunt were both diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. My sister was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, and also has Hashimoto’s antibodies. Our thyroids are a mess. All four of us were dismissed, ignored, scoffed at and belittled for even ASKING about our thyroids. And even as we fight for optimal treatment, we have to deal with doctors, family and friends that think we’re crazy. They don’t think our thyroids really contribute to our weight gain. They don’t believe that our thyroids are the reason our joints hurt, our eyes are puffy, and we feel like we are walking through water. Even after we are diagnosed, we have to struggle. We have to be the ones who drive our own health care.

If more people were aware of thyroid disease, its symptoms and its treatment, millions of women like me could be saved this fight. We are not crazy. They are in the dark.

3 Responses to “Save the Butterflies”

  1. Ashly January 8, 2012 at 1:38 am #

    I was recently diagnossed with Graves disease. I had a baby 9 months ago and I felt fine for awhile. I experienced what they think was PPD after each kid although no help was given b/c I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t want people to think I was crazy. Anyway I finally went to counseling for the depression and she sent me to another doc who perscribed meds for it b/c the counseling sessions weren’t doing the total job. He had me do blood work which I promptly avoided for a few months. I took 2 types of anti depressants and finally the 2nd one I broke out in hives one day. For fear it could be the anti depressant he sent me for more blood work. Where he noticed my thyroid levels out of whack. So I made an apt. with my regular doc and she confirmed it. Also noticing I had a larger right side of my thyroid. Long story short I am now diagnosed and dealing with a semi horrible docs office. I felt like I was loosing my mind on the way to being diagnosed. Since then I have also discovered more thyroid issues in my family history. Thankfully you had the drive to fight! I am not much in the mood these days. I hope to discover it soon and get my life on track. Good luck in your journey!

  2. jannajones73 February 23, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Amen to every bit of that! I have my very thorough OB to thank for finding my thyroid cancer, he noted my elevated TSH, palpated my thyroid and noted the nodule and sent me to get it checked out. I was 21 weeks pregnant when I was diagnosed. Now my baby is 2 months I am 2 1/2 weeks post ablation and 10 post surgery. I am an ER nurse and every day think even as a nurse how much I didn’t know about just how much the thyroid impacts our well being. I was off my meds for 10 days total before and after radiation and still haven’t recovered. I know having a newborn (and a 2 year old) makes it harder, but this is definitely the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • sarahyoung1119 February 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      I have met quite a few ThyCans who were diagnosed by their wonderful OBs! I am so sorry you had to endure all this with a newborn. Especially RAI isolation!! Best of luck and best of health to you…keep in touch!

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