I am a 64 year old male and have been through the treatment for Thyroid Cancer over the past eighteen months and would like to share my story.
I retired in 2002 after many years of running and then selling my own business. My wife (born in England) and I decided to try house exchanging in the UK. Our first exchange was in 2004 for three months. It went so well that we decided to do another exchange in 2005. This exchange was for five months.
Prior to leaving for the UK on the second exchange (December 2004) I visited my GP for a regular check-up and review of my medication for high blood pressure. During this visit he noticed a swelling in my neck on the left side and said "aha you have a Goitre" and I said "what is that"? He explained about Thyroid Goitres and said that it was small and that we would look into it upon my return in June. I went home and furiously read all about Goitres on the web and so entered into the world of Thyroid problems.
I then started to think about family history and realised that on my mother’s side a great aunt had her thyroid removed at an early age and my aunt had her thyroid removed about five years ago. Neither my mother nor my sister have had Thyroid problems.
Upon my return to Perth in June 2005 I visited the GP and he said aha the Goitre has enlarged significantly and we had better do tests straight away. First step was an ultrasound of the Thyroid which showed significant nodules in the left side and small nodules in the right side. At this stage the GP said that we needed to take this seriously and suggested I visit a specialist Thyroid surgeon.
The surgeon was very approachable. He explained everything about the Thyroid and the various steps I could take and the associated risks and consequences. I went away to think about the options and what course of action to take.
First step was to have a fine needle biopsy done – this was carried out at SCGH and was painless. The results came back as inconclusive, which is quite common. Second step was to talk to the surgeon once again and he said that the left side Goitre would have to be removed at some time as it would eventually impact on my windpipe. So I went away and thought about it all for a couple of weeks and went back and agreed to do the semi-Thyroidectomy as soon as possible in a private hospital.
Third step was the operation. This went very well and recovery was quick. During the operation the surgeon had the tissue analysed (frozen section) and this showed no trace of any cancer. This can often be inconclusive so he completed the operation and told me he had sent the Thyroid tissue away for extensive analysis over the next week. He said if he had not heard anything in the first few days then that was a good sign. Unfortunately on about day four he rang and said I had cancer and to come down and see him straight away. This time there was no option but to remove the other half of the Thyroid. This analysis regime is typical and it is after extensive testing that the cancers can be detected. The laboratory, as a matter of course, sent a duplicate sample to another laboratory for confirmation.
The cancers were both Follicular and Papillary.
Fourth step was another operation within two weeks and was carried out at SCGH. Again the recovery was quick and within about a week I was getting back to normal.
Fifth step was to be put into the care of a three man team, an Endocrinologist, Nuclear Medicine Specialist and a Surgeon for follow up treatment. This was to consist of Radioactive Iodine treatment to kill off any remaining Thyroid cells in my body.
Sixth step was a low iodine diet for several weeks and then tests and the actual treatment in a lead lined room at SCGH. I was able to expel the radioactive material within 24 hours and was allowed to go home but with restrictions on my movements.
Seventh step was a full body scan after the treatment to check for the presence of Thyroid tissue and the result was excellent showing no tissue anywhere. Eighth and subsequent steps, is six monthly blood tests with comprehensive testing every twelve months and so far everything has been clear.
I am now on replacement medication of 150 micrograms of Thyroxine. I have noticed that I feel much better since the operations and treatment. I have a lot more energy and do not have the feeling of tiredness that I had. I have done a lot of research into Thyroid Cancers and am quite knowledgeable about the disease. I belong to support groups and was part of the inaugural group that established THYROID WA.
In conclusion I want to say that I was very impressed with the medical treatment I have received at all stages. I was kept fully informed at all times and decisions were made co-operatively with medical staff.
Perth, January 2007
Any opinion expressed in the members' stories may not necessarily reflect the views of THYROID WA SUPPORT GROUP INC. THYROID WA SUPPORT GROUP INC. disclaims any liability whatsoever.