September in all its glory is, among other things, Thyroid Cancer Awareness month. I’m sure it’s awareness month for many other things too but this is the one that affects me most. The next few of my posts will have to do with my very own bout with the disease.
In May of 2011 I had cancer surgery; thyroid cancer. As cancers go this one, by all accounts, is a good one to have because it can be completely curable. So far that’s been the case for me. The story of how I found out that this little, butterfly shaped organ at the base of my throat that is commonly known as the body’s thermostat, is kind of remarkable.
In 2004 I went to the doctor’s for my annual checkup. I’d been seeing my doc since I moved back to Rhode Island in 1998. She’s terrific. More than just a few minute appointment, she takes time to ask good questions and to listen to my answers and concerns. The one thing I could count on every time I saw her was her very cold hands. She apologized for it constantly. During that year’s annual physical she ran her fingers up and down my neck stopping at the base of my throat and asking me to swallow. Not unusual, she did that every year. What was unusual was what she said she felt, little nodules on my thyroid. I was referred to an endocrinologist for further study.
The referral was a quick process and I went to see the endocrinologist within a couple of weeks. He too is a very good doc; in fact, he’s part of the practice that is consistently named among the RI Top Docs by Rhode Island Monthly. Within a few weeks of that visit I had an ultrasound of the thyroid which found several nodules on each side. Mind you nodules are measured in millimeters, so the fact that my regular doc was able to feel, with her ice-cold fingers, these tiny little things in my throat was amazing. The endocrinologist was both impressed and shocked by it.
The initial testing of the nodules, including a rather unnerving biopsy, showed no signs of anything but calcifications. Of course when I looked up what that meant on the internet I panicked, but the doc told me we’d just need to monitor annually with blood tests and ultrasounds. Which is exactly what we did for the next seven years.
Today’s thank you is to my “regular” doctor; who, in my eyes is not regular at all! “Cold hands, warm heart”, a fun expression and one for which I am eternally grateful.