Tag Archives: DearThyroid.com

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.

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Dear Thyroid

10 Aug
Dear Thyroid,
We only have a few short hours left together. It’s strange, I have cursed you for the last 18 months of my life, and today I feel I need to thank you.
Thank you, dear thyroid, for the last 33 years. Thank you for keeping me warm as I skated on the backyard ice rink that my dad made for me when I was just six years old. I was never too warm or too cold to enjoy every day of my childhood. You even worked overtime on Easter when I would eat a dozen Cadbury eggs. You kept up with me, blessing me with a good metabolism and enough energy to compete for Queen Schoolyard Socialite. I have always slept easily and peacefully, with you on my side.
As I aged, I never knew your name, never knew what you did for my body. Both of my pregnancies were a breeze. I lived my life with energy and enthusiasm. You never stood in the way of my fertility, as other thyroids might have done. I have two daughters who are perfect in every way. And you were there all along…in the background…chugging away. I will never know when the years of hard work began to wear on you. You grew a little larger after my first pregnancy – a silent cry for help. You were too kind to plague me with symptoms as I dealt with new motherhood. You went into overdrive, giving me what I needed to get through 365 sleepless nights with my firstborn daughter. You made me a warm, loving wife and mother. I was juggling it all so perfectly, but I was never doing it alone.
After my second daughter was born, you needed my help. There was a 9 mm papillary carcinoma on your right lobe. So you helped me put on a few extra pounds that wouldn’t budge. My bones were aching. My hair was brittle and falling out. My natural enthusiasm became a deliberate effort. I had taken you for granted, and suddenly I was struck with how much I owed to you. Thank you, dear thyroid, for fighting for me. Thank you for knowing just how to get my attention. Because of your diligence, my treatment will be minimal. My thyroid cancer journey will be a short one.
I want you to know that I fought for you too. I fought dismissive doctors and nurses. I fought through expensive supplements, dozens of ultrasounds and a botched biopsy. I fought for 18 long months to get you noticed. Because of all you have given me, I knew that my symptoms were not just depression, as my first physician asserted. I knew it was more than just low B-12, as my second physician excitedly diagnosed. I knew that you were not functioning as you once did, despite my normal lab ranges. I want you to know that even as I cried about your disease, I was grateful. Because of our fight, my loved ones know more. You taught me that my instincts are good. In just a few short hours, I will try to replace you. But you can never be replaced. You are my thyroid. And I owe you my life.