Everyone has a different cancer journey. Mine began as a seemingly healthy 28 year-old. I was newly married working on a career in higher education while enrolled in a weekend doctoral program and teaching at night. My husband and I went to the gym together each day and ate healthy meals. For no apparent reason one day I decided to schedule a physical exam. I found a local physician in Fort Lauderdale on the Internet and made an appointment. The doctor asked if I would mind if a medical student helped with the exam. Both the doctor and student began checking my neck. I was advised to schedule a CAT Scan immediately. A few weeks later I was sitting at the Cleveland Clinic being told by an endocrinologist that he has good news and bad news. The bad news is that I have cancer. The positive news is that it is "the good cancer." What? I was in my 20's with no symptoms. I wasn't supposed to have any cancer!
Surgery, radiation, and more surgery followed. My entire thyroid was removed with 5 lymph nodes. I woke up from surgery with a very weak voice. The doctor said this was normal. After a year of trying everything from voice therapy to Chinese medicine, I still could barely speak. I ended up traveling to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City for a special surgery. My vocal cord was paralyzed from the thyroidectomy. The specialist place a piece of silicon under the paralyzed cord to repair my voice. Today my voice is about 90% restored. To my children's delight I am not allowed to yell or scream.
Having thyroid cancer led me to launch the South Florida Chapter of the Thyroid Cancer Survivor's Association. The group continues to serve patients and their families over the past 18 years. In 2014 I was invited to speak at the national conference in Denver. The experience was amazing to meet so many people with thyroid cancer and physicians from all over the world.
I thought having cancer once was enough. Life had a different plan. A few weeks before my 42nd birthday I had my annual mammogram and ultrasound. After noticing something suspicious the radiologist requested a biopsy. While still in the procedure room the radiologist showed me the screen image of the biopsied tissue. He pointed out that everything seemed normal. Three days later I got a phone call while in the grocery store. You have cancer. Again. This couldn't be happening.
The diagnosis of DCIS breast cancer was quite a shock. After seeing four different surgeons with different opinions and actually cancelling a scheduled lumpectomy I made a decision. On New Year's Eve of 2014 I had a double mastectomy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In May 2015 I had reconstructive surgery. This was followed a second reconstructive surgery the following year and thyroid scar revision surgery in 2018.
My path to healing includes clean eating, CBD & essential oils, monitoring by an oncologist, yoga, and my newest sport of dragon boating. (You can read more about dragon boating on my blog.)
I would love to hear from you about your cancer journey!