Jennifer R. Schafer
Last Modified: March 19, 2002
I am a survivor. All it takes is some ignorant person who states They want "to get injured or sick to get benefits from the government" to make me realize this. I am active duty navy, and was treated for thyroid papillary carcinoma last June. My gynecologist found a nodule during a thyroid palpation, and referred me to several places for observation and testing. Within 2 weeks, I had an ultrasound, a biopsy, and a thyroidectomy. That was a pretty sudden diagnosis for someone who had just returned from a frolic in northeastern China. Stranger things have happened.I had trouble post-op from my parathyroid glands-they just didn't want to start working again. I waited as they pumped me full of calcium. Finally they returned to normal, and I went home.
A week later I was readmitted for ablation (I-131 therapy) and isolated for 3 days. Of that whole ordeal, (shock of diagnosis, first surgery ever, stupid interns poking at everything), the worst part was the 3 days in isolation. Drink and pee. Drink and pee. Exercise while people watch you through the little window. As a bonus, you get 10 minutes with your husbandbut it's from 20 feet away. Reading my radiation with the Geiger counter was pretty cool. Finally I wasn't a severe threat to society and allowed to go home. After a year, I still am trying to get my synthroid regulated (It keeps fluctuating irregularly). But I am here. I have little respect for those who don't value their health. I had a clear scan this February (no detectable thyroid tissue), so I am placated for now. I still have fears of a metastasis floating around in my blood or lymph or possible attaching itself to another organ. The only way I'll ever know if that happens is if that tissue or organ fails, and, in that case, it's probably too late.
I don't play the hypochondriac, whining about every ache and pain that comes along. I've become a better, stronger person in the end. I don't talk to people constantly about my trials and tribulations. I just thank God that I am alive and here to tell about it. And I challenge anyone to handle my illness as well as I did.
For more information about thyroid cancer, please see OncoLink's Thyroid Cancer Section.