Bla Bla Something “Carcinoma”, What tha, Thyroid Cancer????

December 5, 2011

I was going to do a video but for some reason unknown to me I’m just not up to it.  I’m not usually very shy so maybe its just a little shock.  I was lucky enough to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer accidentally (I’ll explain the lucky part soon).

I had been having chest pain for about 12 months on and off and after a night down at the local public hospital and having eeg or ecg or what every those machines are called plus a few dozen needles and having blood drawn it was decided that I had not had a heart attack.  I also later that same week went and had a stress test on my heart which showed my heart was as healthy as a healthy horse.  So, why then was I getting the chest pain???

Five years previously I had had lap band surgery and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe there was something wrong with the band and that is why I was having some chest pain, so off I trotted (this has become a bit of a horsey thing, I’m not even into horses) and got myself a referral back to my old lap band surgeon.  Once there the surgeon agreed that yes a stretched pouch or slipped band could definitely cause chest pain and he sent me off for a barium swallow.

I booked in to have the x-ray and barium swallow two days after that appointment.  The day before I was due to have the x-ray I was struck down with the worst case of food poisoning you could ever imagine.  I’m not even exaggerating here, I was sick for 10 days and couldn’t even get myself out of bed, it was terrible.  So anyway it probably took me about 2 months to rebook in for my barium swallow.

It was while I was having that x-ray that the radiographer said to me, “has your doctor mentioned anything to you about having an ultrasound on that nodule in your neck”, the what, in my neck?  Um no, funny about that, he hasn’t, even though I had been complaining for a couple of years that I felt I had a problem with my thyroid there was no mention that I should have the “nodule” checked.  It was brushed off by every single doctor I had tried to get to listen to me.  Of course they had done the usual blood test for thyroid function which always came back in the normal range which meant I was always given the old “pull ya head in girl, I’m the doctor, your the patient” type line.  Any way….

Lumpy Neck Mummy

Even in this pic you can see the lump, this pic was taken about 2 years ago

I rang and booked in for an ultrasound before I had even gone back to my GP for the referral.  I was lucky enough to get an appointment the next day and managed to get into my GP that evening.  I think he thought I was nuts and just gave me the referral to shut me up.

The following day at the ultrasound the technician told me that there were two nodules in the middle and right sections of my thyroid and one of them looked like a cyst with a hard bit in the centre that could have just been a bit of dried blood.  No biggie!!

Back to the doctor the following week to get the results.  Yes miss Tracie there are actually two nodules there and your thyroid is on the upper limits of size for a normal thyroid.  It wont be anything but just to make sure I’m going to send you to a specialist.  Do you have private health cover? Yes I answer (thank God).  Ok thats good because this guy is very expensive but he is the best.  You have nothing to worry about though, it wont be anything this is just a precaution.

Anyway a week later I am sitting in the ENT Specialist office (don’t you love how we need to be on time for our appointments but after we are there it’s OK for us to sit and wait for an hour to be called), ok back on topic.  I get called in and the surgeon (we will call him the surgeon now cause it just sounds more special) asks me all the usual questions like; have you had any symptoms, how long have you had the nodule, any history of thyroid cancer in the family, are you a smoker?  Here I proudly answer NO I’m not a smoker, then my dobby dobber husband pipes up his ahehemmm, ok, so I might have been a smoker but I gave up for like 7 years and then took it back up for a year and then gave it up for another year and then maybe had a few here and there but I haven’t had a ciggie for 6 months.

The surgeon said that smoking isn’t related to thyroid cancer anyway.  What tha???  I hadn’t even really thought about the “C Word”, not that C word anyway:)  He then got me to hop up on his dentist’s chair, well that’s what it looked like and then sprayed a thing down my nose to numb it…… Then he tells me he is going to stick this little tube down my nose to go down the back of my throat so he can see whats going on down there.  Let me tell you from where I was sitting it was not a little tube and that stuff tasted like (beep)!  He said that everything looked ok but was going to send me for the find need biopsy just to make sure he was right that it was nothing to worry about.  He said he would just get me to come back in 12 months to keep an eye on the nodules.  Nothing to worry about.  Again “Nothing to Worry About”

His receptionist then got me an appointment for the next day for the FNB (fine needle biopsy) under an ultrasound.  Even when I was having the biopsy the doctor there said it wouldn’t be cancer because in 20 years of doing biopsy’s he had only ever have one come back positive.  He was nice enough to put urgent on my form so that pathology would be rushed through and I would have my results in two days.

Even during this whole 2 or 3 months (since I was first supposed to have the barium swallow but got the food poisoning) it had still never really occurred to me that I could possibly have cancer.  I don’t get cancer, other sick people get cancer.

Two days later (which was last Friday) I looked at my watch and thought, ohhh I should really ring and get the results of my test.  I called the surgeon and the test results were not in.  Great, I had a bit of a chat with the receptionist and we decided that I would call back on the following Tuesday because the results would surely be back in by then.  Great, I was so busy anyway I really didn’t have time to think about it.

It was at 4 o’clock that afternoon, precisely 4pm on December 2nd 2011, when the bomb was dropped.  My husband and I had just picked the kids up from school and had gone to our business (which we were in the process of closing down and losing a stack of moolah on but that’s another story) when I received the phone call from my GP.  Tracie he says, do you have an appointment to see the specialist?  No, he told me it would be fine and that I could just call him for the results.  OK, well you need to make an urgent appointment. (Imagine a really strong Pakistani accent here, so I have to listen carefully because we are on the phone with a heap of noise in the background). Why?  Do you have my results?  Yes he says.  Well, what do they say?  Bla bla bla cell carcinoma is all I remember.  Are you saying I’ve got CANCER?  YES.  Ohhhhh Shit.  I think I just hung up the phone at this point without saying goodbye.

I looked at my husband.  I was crying, I have Cancer I said to him and all he could do was grab me because I felt like I was going to fall to the floor.  At the same time there was a guy from the security company asking for his bill to be paid.  I think we told him we had something to deal with and he would have to wait…..

I quickly rang the specialist office and told her what the GP had just told me.  She was so great telling me to try not to worry and that she would get me in as quickly as she could.  The quickest was going to be the following Tuesday so I knew I had a long weekend to wait.  But, It was so surreal that I still didn’t really believe or really understand what it meant.

I rang my sister and we both had a bit of a cry and then the cancer jokes started so it didn’t take me long to start laughing again.  I have some really great friends who have been a godsend this weekend.  Thanks Shell and Tan, I love you both.

I actually feel really positive and know that I will get through this, I just don’t know how sick I’ll feel before I get better.  My sister has been talking to a family friend who has been through thyroid cancer so she has been getting the low down from her on what we can expect.

I was really impressed when I received a phone call from the surgeon that night.  He was ringing me to give me the results and to give me his mobile number.  He said if I was scared or had any questions that I could ring him anytime over the weekend.  WOW!  What doctors do that?  I knew then that I was in great hands.

I see the surgeon tomorrow (Tuesday 6th December 2011) so we will know more about what we are dealing with then.  At this stage he wants to book me in for surgery on Wednesday and then the iodine radiation therapy a couple of weeks after that.  (I apologise if I have my words and medical technical jargon wrong but I’m sure I will learn as I go)  I just wanted to keep a journal on my journey because when I have woken in the middle of the night and been unable to sleep it has been the journals of other cancer survivors that I have found solace in and hopefully I can do the same for someone else some day.

See ya soon baboon

Tracie D    

P.S  The reason I am lucky is that if it wasn’t for those chest pains who knows how long it would have been for the cancer to be found

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