Six months into my pregnancy, I felt a lump on the side of my neck, about three inches below my ear. I couldn't really see the lump, so I thought it just was a swollen lymph gland from a sinus infection, which I occasionally get, and I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t even mention it to my doctor.
Then, a few weeks after my son's birth, I came down with a sore throat that wouldn't go away. After two weeks, I thought I might have strep throat, which is the last thing I wanted with a newborn in the house. I told my husband I needed to go to our family practitioner, so I could get antibiotics to clear it up.
Two minutes into the examination, our family practitioner saw the lump and felt it. “That's not good,” he said. I was a little taken aback. “What do you mean, it's fine! Should I be worried?” “Don't worry until there's something to worry about," he answered and told me I needed to go have a scan. “I'll do that,” I said, but I didn't think anything of it.
I had the scan two days later, and four days after that, I was back at the doctor’s for the results. As soon as I walked into his office, he gave me a funny look and said, “You've got thyroid cancer."
Never in a million years did I think the lump would result in a thyroid-cancer diagnosis. I didn’t even know a person could have thyroid cancer. I just heard “cancer,” and I thought I was going to die. I was terrified–I had a new baby and he needed me.
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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones that affect a person's metabolism and every organ in the body. Roughly 57,00 people receive a thyroid cancer diagnosis each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Three out of four of those people are women.