In 1998 I visited my doctor as I was experiencing chronic hoarseness, some neck discomfort and slight swelling on the left side of the neck.
A Thyroid Ultra Sound (US) was ordered, the results of which revealed a cystic lesion in the left thyroid lobe and two nodules in the right lobe. This test was followed up by a Thyroid Scintigraphy which showed similar readings as the US. It also stated that the overall appearances were suggestive of multinodular goiter. Somehow my doctor did not think that surgery was necessary at that time.
In 2001 I decided to check again on the “goiter”. Both US and Scintigraphy were again done . The report showed cystic masses. Surgery was decided on.
The night before the surgery I was so apprehensive that I vomited almost throughout the night. I was too sick on the morning of the surgery to go through with it. Inwardly I consoled myself that I was just not meant to have any surgery. So I gave no further thought to this, despite the fact that I knew what the reports had stated.
Five years later, one of the doctors on the ward on which I worked mentioned that there was a noticeable swelling on my neck and advised that I should have it checked. I promptly visited an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. Based on the results of his examination of my neck he did a fine needle aspiration biopsy and ordered a CT Scan. The report of the biopsy showed that cancer was present in the left lobe (follicular) and the CT Scan confirmed again the presence of the multinodular goiter in the right lobe. My doctor suggested partial thyroidectomy. I felt I should have total thyroidectomy. He was somehow reluctant to perform the total so I went to another surgeon who after reviewing all the reports agreed to a total thyroidectomy. This time there was no delay. Surgery was done within the week on the 4th April 2007. Immediately post surgery I experienced a lot of pain which was relieved by an intramuscular injection. The next day I was discharged from hospital. After 2-3 post surgery visits I was referred to an Endocrinologist for follow up care.
At the Endocrinologist, three monthly visits were scheduled. At these visits blood taken for calcium, T4, Thyroglobulin and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) were checked. Routine weight and blood pressure checks were also done. A full body iodine 131 scan was also done to rule out spread of thyroid tissue to the other organs of the body. I was also placed on a daily dosage of Thyroxine 0.1mcg. Once the blood reports were consistently normal my visits were extended to six monthly. On two occasions the TSH and Thyroglobulin level were elevated and Radioactive Iodine Ablation was given. The last ablation of 100mci of Radioactive Iodine was given in 2011. All precautions against radioactive exposure to relatives were observed. That was a trying period, as I remained in isolation for eight long days in the hospital. Prayer, reading and reflection helped to make the period bearable.
I am committed to staying healthy. Having been a vegetarian for several years, I try to maintain a balanced diet. I walk 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes. I am now on a daily maintenance dose of Eutirox 125mcg.
Throughout this experience I leant heavily on God for healing and continued health and strength. I also have great support from my husband and family.
Two years post surgery, at age 63 I retired from my job as a registered Nurse/Midwife. Though retired, I am not “tired” and spend the time in community work-caring for the sick, serving in a soup kitchen for the elderly and reaching out to those in need of my help. I mention this to say that having had a thyroidectomy is not the end of one’s life. One can lead an active, meaningful and normal life.
During the early post surgery period I felt the need for reassurance. I wanted to hear from others in a similar situation, how they were coping and how it was with them. I searched the web for such a support group and was fortunate to find the Thyroid Cancer Support Group-Wales. From then to now I have been communicating regularly with them and have benefitted tremendously from the words of encouragement and reassurance given. Special thanks to Cy Davies for being a great encourager. Congratulations to him and the team for giving ten years of excellent service as a support group.
Long live the Thyroid Cancer Support Group Wales!!
Trinidad @ Tobago, W.I.