September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month
September is Thyroid Cancer. This month is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, a time to educate the public about the most common type of endocrine cancer. Also called “thyroid carcinoma,” thyroid cancer is a malignant tumor or growth that originates within the thyroid gland. That’s the official definition—true, but very impersonal.
To me, though, thyroid cancer became extremely personal three years ago when I was diagnosed with this condition. Like many people who receive this diagnosis, I hadn’t experienced any symptoms, and my cancer was discovered by a fluke.
I was on a vacation visiting my family in Peru, when my father insisted that while I was there I should see a dermatologist about my acne. Out of my love for him I made the appointment. Thank God Dad was so concerned about my acne! The dermatologist sent me to an endocrinologist…and the endocrinologist found a lump in my neck when she did a physical exam. That lump turned out to be cancer. And so my journey began.
Let’s spread the word about thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer is actually one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence in recent years. Here are a few facts that you, your friends and your loved ones need to know:
- You should check your neck for lumps – Depending on the size of the tumor, thyroid cancer can create a palpable lump or nodule on the front of your neck. Your thyroid is located below your Adam’s apple, along the front of your windpipe.
- There are often no symptoms for thyroid cancer – This is especially true for the early stages of the disease. Many people, like me, never suspect that there is a problem.
- Sometimes there are symptoms for thyroid cancer – These symptoms include a feeling of fullness in the throat, pain in the throat or neck, hoarseness or difficulty speaking, swollen lymph nodes, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
- Standard thyroid function blood tests don’t detect cancer – When doctors order a blood test to measure the amount of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) in your blood, they’re trying to determine if your thyroid is functioning properly. This is not a test for the presence of cancer.
- If you suspect anything is wrong, take action – If you feel a lump or nodule, or if you are experiencing symptoms that could indicate the presence of thyroid cancer, see an endocrinologist for a proper diagnosis.
My journey still continues
Three years ago I made a decision to forego conventional treatment for my thyroid cancer (i.e. surgery and radiation) and beat this cancer using a holistic, alternative treatment approach based on using the mind, spirit and body to heal. Along the way I have made significant changes in my life, learned a great deal, and began focusing on ways I can help others. As I recently posted, this approach seems to be working for me. My most recent ultrasound reflects a dramatic improvement of healing!
Perhaps you are on your own journey of healing, too. Regardless of what treatment approach you have decided is best for you, please share updates on your journey and if you are involved in any awareness campaigns in your community or circle of friends to help others educate about cancer. Many blessings!