Warning, this is a long one!
A bit of backstory to this post…
A little over a year ago, a growth had started on the right side of my neck, this was an internal growth, so not terribly visible at the time. As time went on, it slowly started growing in size, but there was no pain, and it wasn’t affecting my breathing or swallowing greatly so I just learned to live with it. I didn’t have insurance at the time and was scared as to what it might cost me if I did go in and find out the worst. I lived with the annoyance.
I had a few friends ask me about what was wrong as it was a noticable difference, I told them it’s a growth, but wasn’t painful and that I didn’t have the insurance to get it looked at. I found it odd that people would ask other people if they knew what was wrong, but wouldn’t come ask me directly, this was kind of sad to be honest. I guess I’m guilty of doing it as well, but I’ve learned to just go directly to the source.
I finally got health insurance through work as of June, but was still procrastinating on getting it checked out, thinking it was going to be bad and I didn’t want to deal with what might happen. When going out with friends I always have the thought in the back of my mind that people are looking and staring at it. With my vacation to Vegas coming up, I finally told myself to get in there and get it handled.
Thursday night, Oct. 11th, I finally went to the Urgent Care facility at Group Health in Bellevue to get the process started. All was normal enough, got in, checked in sat and waited as I watched everyone else in the waiting room get pulled in. Those that came in after I did as well as those that were there ahead of me. I guess because my problem wasn’t painful I wasn’t listed as a priority. Which makes sense, but was irritating at the time. Once I got pulled in, they did a blood draw, Dr. came in and talked about either doing a CAT scan or an Ultrasound and went to get a second opinion. That Dr. came in and said that a CAT scan should be good enough. Which is good as the Ultrasound tech had already left for the day. So, the nurse walks me over to the Radiologist who promptly sends me back to the room to have an IV put in my arm so they can put some dye into my body as well as sign a form. Finally get taken back for the CAT scan, went back to the room and waited some more. Doctor comes in and tells me that the scan wasn’t conclusive enough, but they noticed some calcium deposits and lymph nodes in/around the lump. She told me I need to schedule an appt. with a Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor).
Fast forward to today, my appointment was set for 3pm today. I leave work around 2:30 to get there in time and deal with anything that might come up before hand. No problem, I’m pulled in almost right away. Nurse does the usual, blood pressure, talks about the flu shot that I signed up to get while I was there, etc. Doctor comes in and takes a look at my neck, at which point he says the C word. Immediately, I start to worry. He sprays some numbing agent into my nose and shoves a camera to look down my throat for anything wrong. He says everything looks good there. Whew, I think. Then he tells me that he needs to a Needle Biopsy. I was kind of expecting this, and surprised it didn’t happen when I was at Urgent Care previously. Numbs up my neck, sticks the needle in and pulls out some fluid, goes ahead and pulls out some more fluid. He mentions that it’s the color of fluid that signifies it’s the Thyroid. From what I saw in the needle it was a blackish fluid. He ends up pulling out 4oz of the stuff, and says that there’s certainly a lot more where that came from.
We talk a bit about things, and asked if my family has any history with Thyroid issues, asked if I’ve been exposed to abnormal amounts of radiation.
Eventually, he tells me that he’s almost certain I have Thyroid Cancer, but needs to see the test results from the needle biopsy to confirm.
Internally I’m freaking out. This is exactly what I was afraid of hearing.
He continues by telling me that people my age usually recover from this without issue. There’s some risks with the surgery such as nerves that control the face, shoulder, tongue. Yeah. Fun. He continues to tell me that he’s done the surgery hundreds of times, so it’s fairly common. That’s slightly comforting.
I ask him about the surgery, where it’s done, how it’s done, what happens with the scar (fear of having a long scar on my neck, LOL). Mentions that he’ll probably have to make two incisions because of the size of the mass. Wonderful.
He goes on to tell me that recover usually takes 2-3 weeks and I most likely won’t be able to work during that time. Yeah, another freak out moment. I can’t afford to be out of work for that long, so I ask if it’s something where I might be able to work from home, relief came when he said yes, but he mentions that, “you most likely won’t feel like driving or doing much activity” that’s why he said that I’d be out of work. Thankfully, I have the kind of job where I can work from home…now I just need to get my boss to agree to that when the time comes. Hopefully, I won’t be at home by myself during the recovery, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
Now comes the waiting game to hear the results from the biopsy and then schedule the surgery after that.
So there you have it. That lump that’s been in my throat for the last 1+ years is most likely due to Thyroid cancer, the one thing I was hoping it wouldn’t have been. I still don’t know what to think, on one hand it sounds like it’s fairly common and once the surgery is done to remove the all or part of the Thyroid gland and that I’ll make a full recovery and move on with my life. While having to take hormone replacement pills for the rest of my life. The other hand is telling me that it’s still cancer and you don’t really know if it’s located itself anywhere else… Never thought I’d be in this predicament and don’t really know how to react.
Thanks to those that had talked to me about it privately, as well as those that asked other people about it. It’s awesome to know that you all care. Seriously.
Vegas and SEMA you’ll be interesting this year with this going on in the back of my mind.