One Year After a Complete Thyroidectomy-Cancer Free

UCLA Health article

After a year of doctor visits, procedures and worrying I got the great news I am cancer free. A little over a year ago, I got diagnosed when I went to see Dr. Susan Davis, an endocrinologist at UCLA, for hypothyroidism. She found a nodule, I wasn't very worried because I thought it was inflammation from Hashimoto's Disease. She sent me for an ultrasound and the radiologist suggested a biopsy. The biopsy was scarier than I expected. First the doctor used lidocaine injections which stung. Then he started the fine needle aspiration which wasn't bad. It was a little scary. He used multiple syringes to take several samples. Seeing the needle going into my neck several times, though it didn't hurt, it just felt like a little pressure, was weird. After the lidocaine wore off I had a very sore throat and couldn't even laugh the rest of the day. When I scheduled it I thought I could go back to work but I couldn't because of the sore throat. The results came back in a few days and I went again to see Dr. Davis. She was very gentle giving me the news that I had cancer. She was very reassuring that it is something that could be taken care of. She recommended I see Dr. Yeh. I came to see him about a month after my diagnosis and right away he suggested surgery. I hate surgery so I was very reluctant. He told me I could wait a couple of months to make the decision. That was probably the worst time. I was anxious about surgery, but really had no other option and I wanted to do the right thing. Eventually I decided to get the surgery. I came back very anxious. I was very upset. I hated every minute of more ultrasounds and having to have the surgery. Though I ended up thinking about the surgery and post-poning it as long as possible, I don't recommend that to others. It's a lot of worrying that can be prevented by having the surgery sooner. Once I got it all over with I felt much calmer. The surgery included a complete thyroidectomy and neck dissection to remove the cancerous lymph nodes. I was really anxious before the surgery and what was really great is that everyone came in to say hello and introduce themselves and explain the procedure again. I asked Dr. Yeh a lot of questions previously in his office and he answered them all so the day of surgery I really didn't have questions I was just ready to get the surgery over with. I spent one night in the hospital and got discharged the next morning. After the surgery his nurse practitioner Jennifer stopped by to check on me frequently. Dr. Yeh and an intern came in to check on me too. The next day I went home. It wasn't very painful. I thought it would be a lot worse. The scar was smaller than I had imagined and the pain a lot less than I anticipated. Two weeks post surgery they removed the steri strips. I was self conscious about my scar, Dr. Yeh gave me some skin-toned tape to cover it up. At that appointment Dr. Yeh told me about the positive lymph nodes and so he suggested the radioactive iodine treatment. I followed up with Dr. Davis. She sent me to nuclear medicine, Dr. Schiepers, he was great. A very nice doctor, explained everything about the process. He made me feel really good about getting the radiation. It was a one-time thing to take the radio-active iodine pill. I chose to take the treatment at home, I kept my self in isolation because I was radioactive so I needed to stay away from my younger siblings.. The radiation did make me sick and I vomited a lot so I had to come back for a second dosage the next day, which is highly unusual. The low iodine diet was required for two weeks before the radiation. That was kind of horrible. You have to get thyrogen injections two days prior to the radiation to bring up your THS levels. That was a little worrisome because sometimes insurance won't cover it and it's very expensive. A few days after radiation I could go back to work, I just stayed away from pregnant woman and small children for a week or so. I've been following up every few months. I followed up with Dr. Smooke-Praw. They found some scar tissue, which made me worried but that's all there is. Now, a year later, I was declared cancer-free by Dr. Yeh. He said I got an A+ for today , a negative ultrasound and he doesn't think I need to come back. A weight was lifted immediately. I came in with some anxiety and I am leaving a happy, cancer-free person.