BCBC member, Louise Sattler is about to “celebrate” her third anniversary of having Stage 3 Thyroid cancer removed from her neck and her life! Here is an honest and humorous blog to help others who may be undergoing the same path. This was originally written for her blog WHERE LEARNING MEETS LAUGHTER and we reprint here due to the importance of helping other thyroid cancer patients.
Dear New Thyroid Cancer Patient,
I am writing this letter nearly three years to the date of my thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer. I was so lucky to be surrounded by great docs at Johns Hopkins Hospital and many others.
I know it seems like the trips to doctors offices, tests and treatments will never end. Your scared, frustrated and perhaps feeling a sense of doom. Welcome to cancer- land. Sorry it isn’t fun – just beastly.
For some of you this will be a short “lump” in the road (thanks to Margaret McSweeney who coined that phrase during her own bout with cancer). For others, the road will be long and bumpy. Here is perhaps a few little suggestions to help you endure whatever path you now have found yourself taking –
1. Surround yourself with those who truly care about you and don’t shut out anyone who genuinely wants to help you because you are too “embarrassed”. NOW is a time to accept anyone with good karma to help you out. (If they have a drivers license and can do errands for you post-surgery – even better!)
2. Delete from social media, your contact list and your life anyone who brings negative energy to you and yours. You don’t need them right now. Maybe never. Also, expect that some people will believe cancer is contagious and will dump your friendship like a hot potato. So be it. Remember stay positive, rid yourself of negative. There are a lot of great people in this world. Those who tossed you aside are not them.
3. Your body will betray you. The surgery will be only the beginning of the changes to happen to your body. Expect a shift in how you look. A few more pounds. A few less pounds. I haven’t met anyone who had thyroid surgery who weighed the same before and after. Your hair will get all funky for a bit. Your voice may change and you will find other oddities that are either annoying or a bit humorous. Just go with it!
4. Ladies – retail therapy for new scarves is a must! Indulge and don’t go too cheap – you want the kind that look fashionable but don’t scratch or make you sweat.
5. Men- scarves can help you out too. So can turtleneck sweaters, etc.
6. Or… wear that scar proudly!!
7. If you have a voice problem – go ask your doctor for recommendations to speech therapist who work with voice disorders. You may need help with your vocal quality (I sounded like James Earl Jones for about two months, frankly!). Also, don’t be shy and discuss with your physician any of your concerns. You paid him/her big bucks to get the cancer out- and you want your monies worth!
8. Accept that you will have a whole host of emotions, from sad to laughing for no reason. Let’s face it – cancer is absurd!
9. Take a break. Even if it is to have a mini vacation at the local Holiday Inn Express for one night. Bring chocolate for medicinal reasons.
10. Celebrate your NEW life. It is not all bad. You have learned some valuable lessons and will learn many, many more. Most of all – every day is IMPORTANT and there is no room for EXCUSES. Now is the time to re-evaluate what you want to keep, change and add to your life.
11. Here is a link to many more of my cancer related posts)
LASTLY… Know that I and many more thyroid cancer survivors are in your corner. Good luck and have a great life!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
About the author: Louise Sattler is a frequent blogger and social media expert. She is the co-founder of 411 VOICES – Women in Media