Below are the questions presented to and my responses. I'm so excited to be doing this for these wonderful ladies. I love them all. Please go check out their website. It's thylicious, thylightful, and thylovely!
What kind of thyroid cancer were you diagnosed with? How many years have you been a survivor?
I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer (PTC) in 2006. I've been a survivor for over four years. Woo!
September is thyroid cancer awareness month. What does that mean to you? Why do you think awareness is important? How do you spread awareness?
Wow. Loaded question. September being Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month means that I have an excuse to spam the world. It means I have the ability to say, "HEY, Listen up, people! This month is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, so you better keep in mind what I have to say!" As I've stated before, thyroid cancer is no joke, and it doesn't discriminate. It means that us TC survivors can finally have our voices heard, since the month is completely dedicated to our cancer. Sure, we may not be at the level of "awareness" that breast cancer has gotten to, but we sure as heck can raise enough voices to get there, as long as we all stick together.
Awareness is extremely important. Since I've answered a similar question like this before in my PFAM post, I'll make this more brief. Awareness makes all the difference. I used this example in my previous post, but it still has the same effect. I was diagnosed first with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. To be honest, I still stumble over the words, and I never even understood what in the blazes they were! I had no idea what the thyroid was, let alone what its -itis meant, and who in the world is Hashimoto? Is that a town? I mean, to be completely frank, I never had an anatomy class besides, well, sex education in like 5th, 6th, and 11th grade. I mean, really. People need to be much more aware of what goes on inside their bodies! Half of the people in the world don't know about these organs, especially the thyroid. That's where this awareness comes in. If we don't know about an organ, then how in the world will we be able to tell if something's wrong with it?
I spread awareness simply by being a Nagging Nelly. I pester my friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. I post information on Facebook and Twitter. I talk about my story so much my head starts to hurt. I can spew it out probably in less than one minute, since I'm so practiced. I talk about my family. I make sure people know what is happening, and I put my business out there so people can see that this is REAL. I never thought, beyond my wildest dreams, that any of this would ever happen to us. And, it has. So I'm going to do everything I can to stop it from happening to another family. The question is, will you help me?
Many thyroid cancer patients have been told, “If you have to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get.” What do you think of that statement? When you’re told this, how do you respond?
Oh, how I despise this comment. I've been told that goodness knows how many times in the last four years. Sure, thyroid cancer has a high 5-year survival rate, depending on the cancer, but honestly, if it isn't 100%, then why is it "the one to get?" PTC has a 93% 10-year survival rate, FTC (follicular thyroid cancer) has an 85% 10-year survival rate, MTC (medullary thyroid cancer) has 75% 10-year survival rate, and Anaplastic/variant TCs have a 14% 10-year survival rate. Do you want this cancer now? I think not. PTC has a good 10-year survival rate, but would you want to wonder if you'll end up being the 93% that survive ten years, or the 7% that don't? Go tell that to your doctors.
When I was told that before, I accepted it, and it comforted me. But then again, I was young and vulnerable, and would take any good news I could find. I scraped at the bit for any sign of something positive, because I felt anything but.
Now that I've lived through this and reflected back on it, I loathe that statement. It's a fallacy! Cancer is cancer, no matter which way you roll the dice. The option I would have picked, if I had the choice, would have been, "None of the above."
Dear Thyroid is constantly working to dispel the myth that thyroid cancer is the good cancer or the easy cancer. What other myth would you like to dispel regarding thyroid cancer?
The big myth I keep encountering is that it's easy to treat. Yeeeah, OK. After two extensive surgeries and two big treatments of radioactive iodine (RAI), my cancer is still not gone. It's dormant. It's biding its time. Who knows what it'll do. But, it's still there. Try telling me it's good and easy when I'm still battling it every day of my life. I've never been on a yearly basis with my doctors (which means I'm pretty much in pristine condition). I'm still on a six-month track, which means I'm still under the ever-watchful eye of my lovely and fabulous doctors. They know something's there, it's just a matter of annihilating it. Four years later, and I'm still dealing with this on a regular basis. Put that in your "good cancer" book.
What one thing would you tell the world about thyroid cancer?
I say this as often as I breathe: Thyroid Cancer is no joke. There's nothing good or easy about it. "You have cancer" still makes you want to pinch yourself, make sure it's not a nightmare. Thyroid cancer is just like any other cancer in the sense that it attacks the body, alters the mind and completely changes the way a person feels and acts in their everyday life. I don't know who I'd be if I didn't have thyroid cancer, but I sure as Dickens know I wouldn't be this Dori. I do not, however, regret who I am today. I embrace who I am now, and I use thyroid cancer as a tool to keep myself grounded, focused, determined, and just plain stubborn.
What advice would you give to a newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patient?
Talk about it. Give yourself the opportunities to share your story. It's not a blessing, but it isn't a curse either. Let others in. Let them help you through it. You can't go through it alone. You need at least one other person to help you. Find someone you trust and make sure they are ready to take this on with you.
Smile. Every day. Laugh and joke with others. Let yourself be happy. It's OK to be upset, but it isn't OK to keep sulking and moping. Go out with family and friends, go wild if you want to! Don't ever lose those qualities and memories pre-cancer that made you happy. Hold onto them.
Find a community like Dear Thyroid or I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation. Find others just like you to help you, give you tips, and direct you to resources that can make your journey a lot less hectic. Make sure you know that you are NOT alone.
Do you have a funny thyroid cancer-related story you are willing to share?