In the UK. Jacqui Bennet Bureau
Over a year ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had no real symptoms, except those that could be easily be attributed to other causes.
The cancer was found quite by accident. I made my usual yearly visit to the optometrist for a check up. My eyesight hadn’t changed, but he was a bit worried about another aspect of my sight, so sent me to the eye specialist. The symptom I had was quite normal, but the eye specialist thought my carotid arteries were a bit soft.
I reported this my GP who duly send me for a Doppler scan. The arteries were okay, but the Doppler picked up some nodules on my thyroid. More films concentrating on my thyroid, showed a rather large nodule on the left side and some tiny ones on the right. Thyroid nodules as you grow older are fairly common, but I was sent to a specialist as a precaution. Tests indicated that it wasn’t cancer. However, the large nodule could have caused trouble, so it was arranged for the left side of my thyroid to be removed. Halfway through the operation a frozen section would be done to double check it wasn’t cancer. When I woke I was assured that no cancer cells were present. I was sent home.
A few days later the specialist rang to say more tests had been done by a suspicious pathologist and two types of cancer had been found. It was straight back in to have the rest of the thyroid removed. Luckily, both cancers were low grade, which was why they’d been hard to detect. But one type has just begun to invade the vascular system, which meant there was a chance it could have spread. A week ago I had radiation treatment, with no ill effects. The resulting follow up scan and tests show that the cancer hasn’t spread, and the likelihood of it reoccurring is highly unlikely.
I’m given to understand that thyroid cancer effects women more than men, so one of the reasons I’m writing about this is to inform women, and to urge them to get their thyroid gland checked, especially if they get unduly fatigued, or go to extremes of body temperature, such as sudden flushes or coldness. Sinus trouble, difficulty swallowing or a voice that soon becomes husky can also indicate thyroid problems, as can weight gain. For me the symptoms closely resembled menopause, which is what I put them down to. All I can say is, thank goodness for a vigilant optometrist who set the whole chain of events in motion.