It is an average day when I get into my car to head home from work. My mind going through the million open tabs like an internet browser of all the things that need to be done once I walk in the door. I start my car, go to grab my seat belt and pull it across my chest, OWWW!!!! What on God’s green earth is that? I had an instant sharp pain on my left collarbone area. It stopped me dead in my tracks, the browsers were all closed now and all my brain could process was this pain. I turned my car off and softly felt around the area, it seemed like my lymph node was inflamed or I had a severe bruise, at that moment, I had no idea.
To the doctor we go!
After getting home and processing the pain, my then-husband said to just give it time, it will pass. I just felt in my gut something wasn’t right, so I called my doctor and explained the pain and my concern. She asked me to come in so she can evaluate me and see what steps need to take place. The appointment left me with more questions than answers so a biopsy was then scheduled to see what was going on. The biopsy was painful, not going to lie. I am not sure if it was because I had never had one and didn’t know what to expect or if something was actually wrong with me. I took a day to heal and waited impatiently for my results. NEGATIVE. What? So nothing is wrong with me? The doctor who performed the biopsy prescribed me antibiotics and follow up with him in a few weeks. Great…
I am starting to feel better, the pain is bearable and I think just maybe it was an infection. At my follow up, I explain that I am feeling better and the doctor is pleased. He begins to feel up and down my neck, which in my head I am like, the shoulder dude, not the neck. He stops immediately on my right side near my throat. I look at him with an inquisitive look and ask him what’s wrong. He asks me if I noticed a lump on my right side. Obviously not, I had the pain on my left collarbone, I felt nothing on my right side near my throat. Apparently it was large, large enough to worry him and request another biopsy to be completed on the lump. So here we go again.
I was now a pro and figured the other one was negative, this one would be too. The call took 2 weeks this time, and they were inconclusive. Really? I asked my doctor what my options were. He immediately said, your thyroid needs to come out. Okay, great, take it out. Then husband (now ex-husband) says no, let’s get a second opinion and go from there. At the time we were living in Houston, so I scheduled an appointment at MD Anderson. I found an amazing surgeon who is a Sacred Heart alum, I felt my New Orleans connection to her and trusted her judgment. She looked at my labs and the biopsy report and said, let’s wait and see if it grows.
You have cancer.
My doctor had me come back, 3 months later, for my follow up. My then grape-sized lump was now a golf ball. My surgeon recommended taking out just the right side of my thyroid where the lump was since my blood work showed no signs of cancer and the biopsy was inconclusive. I had surgery in May 2013 and half of my thyroid was taken out. Recovery was difficult, the sutures they used caused me to have a terrible rash. Follow up was a week later where I got the horrific news, you have cancer. The lump was, in fact, cancerous, the biopsy just didn’t grab enough tissue to show it. I was devastated, I cried so hard. I am 30, I am in good health, how can this be happening? She then went on to say that my thyroid needed to come out completely and I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life. In August 2013, I had my second surgery to have a complete thyroidectomy. They were also able to fix the sutures and my neck was healing just fine.
It has been 7 years since my life came crashing down. I am in remission, I am strong, I am healthy, and I am a survivor. Do not let anyone tell you not to follow your gut. ANYONE! I was able to beat it because I caught it early. Check your neck, it can happen to anyone.