Cancers, Four
Comments 7

Stage three thyroid cancer

My thyroid cancer was found quite by accident. I was having lung symptoms so my rheumatologist thought that I might be having problems with the methotrexate. She ordered a chest CT scan. It turned out that I wasn’t having lung problems I was having a different problem.  I had a mass growing on my thyroid.

This was my first cancer and I was in total denial that I might possibly have cancer. My patient doctor explained that the next step was a biopsy. I put the procedure off as long as I could. I was a working woman and I needed to work. Finally, the day arrived. In the x-ray department I was given a local anesthetic. Guided by ultrasound and a long needle, my doctor captured a number of samples from my thyroid. When the results came back, it was definitely cancer. It turned out to be stage three papillary carcinoma. It is not an overly aggressive cancer and it  is slow growing. Lucky me.

My thyroid labs had always been normal. There was no large mass to demand attention. The cancer had been growing slowly over a long period of time. The cancer  was also in my lymph glands. I would need surgery and then I would need radiation which is a story unto itself.

My endocrinologist said I would need an excellent surgeon. The surgery is delicate in two ways. The four parathyroid glands are in close proximity behind the thyroid gland. The surgeon must be careful not to remove or damage these glands when performing thyroid surgery. The parathyroid glands control the vital process of calcium metabolism. I was kept overnight to be sure there had been no damage to the parathyroids.

Also, the recurrent laryngeal nerves can be damaged during the surgery. The result of damage causes difficulty speaking. Yes, a skilled surgeon is a must for thyroid surgery. Fortunately, I had one.

I survived. My scar is barely noticeable. I will need to take a thyroid pill for the rest of my life as my body can no long make its own.

A week after the surgery I had a repeat follow up chest scan. Two things happened. First, the technician used an iodine dye as a contrast medium. It was contraindicated in a post op thyroidectomy patient. It was missed. Bottom line was my radiation treatment was postponed for six months.

The second thing that happed was bad news. This scan found another cancer. This time it was breast cancer.


  1. I just found your post in searching thyroid cancer. I too had papillary thyca in 2003. I am so sorry you are dealing with this too, and now for bc too!? I am hoping and praying that with this second cancer dx – esp these 2 types – your docs have mentioned genetic testing specifically for PTEN mutation? ❤


      • Did they only test for BRCA mutation? I have PTEN mutation and the 3 highest cancer risks are breast, thyroid, uterine.



      • Many many many doctors only test for the BRCA mutation which is a very very huge disservice to us patients.

        If there’s any woman that has a breast cancer and then a secondary cancer diagnosis like thyroid or uterine for example, that is a huge red flag.

        I am thinking about you sending you all the best. Please keep in touch


  2. I just read further in your blog. I’m sorry this is happening to you. I had thyroid cancer back in 2011. It was caught early, but I’ve had a host of other health problems since then.


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