Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m 37. Nine years ago I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer after discovering a lump in my throat. I have undergone four operations, which is unusual, and have had two lots of radioactive iodine treatment.
In April 2005, I had my first operation to remove half of my thyroid gland, and following the results of my surgery, it was decided that the remainder of my thyroid would need to be removed. My second operation took place in June 2005, following which I spent three days in an isolation unit where I had radio-active iodine treatment in a lead-lined room.
I was very shocked and scared when I heard the word cancer. I was working full time and really enjoying life, and at the time it seemed as if my whole world was being turned upside down. I had days of feeling angry about the diagnosis, and also days of being very emotional and upset. I just wanted to be normal.
During my treatment I knew I wanted to do something to fight back, and show that I could overcome the cancer. This inspired me to take part in the London Marathon 2006 to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I had plenty of time to think about the race and plan a training programme. During my training I found out that the cancer had recurred, and I was scheduled in for more surgery to remove lymph nodes in my neck three days after the marathon. This was a huge blow to me, but it made me even more determined to complete the course, and prove I was well.
I have subsequently had a second radio-active iodine treatment, and further surgery to remove more lymph nodes in my neck in June 2007. I have been well since and I now attend 6 monthly check up appointments. I feel I have been very fortunate as after each operation and radioactive iodine treatment, I have had good recovery and felt well.
Family life has certainly been busy, and the most wonderful things have happened since my treatment. I had always thought that someday I would like to be a mum, but I honestly thought that after my treatment, it would never be possible to have children. I didn’t think too much to the future and had just put any thoughts of this out of my head, imagining that it would not be possible. Instead, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, giving birth to a very healthy baby boy in February 2010, getting married in December 2010, and in May 2012, having a beautiful baby girl!
It has taken me a long time to accept having such a large scar on my neck. To begin with I always looked for clothes with a high neck line, but as time has gone on, I realise how lucky I am, and this has just become a part of me.
During my treatment I joined the Thyroid Cancer Support Group Wales. I gained much support from fellow members, and have benefitted from hearing about everyone’s experiences. The Group helps to support other thyroid cancer patients going through similar treatment. I know I could not have gone through any of this without the support of my husband Scott, my mum, dad and brother, and my friends. They have all been with me every step of the way and have helped me remain positive.
Nine years on and life is certainly full of fun with my two little ones, Archie aged four, and Gracie nearly two. There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, but I can honestly say I am happy and healthy. I hope you can be too.