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Emotional response to the cancer

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2002

Just wondering if anyone might be able to recommend some books, publications, etc., on how to deal with cancer on an emotional level. I went for my yearly gynological exam Aug 1 to discover I had a lump on my neck - how I missed it I'll never know and I could kick myself for it. Had a sonogram done and then called our family surgeon - this dr. took care of my mom when she had her masectomy in 1987. He did a needle biopsy and when he called the next day I knew it wasn't good. He said he wanted to do a complete thyroidectomy - not necessarily cancer, but just to be sure (I should have known he was just saying that so I wouldn't freak out). The next week I had surgery to remove it - and it was cancer - papillary and it had not spread. Not sure what stage - suppose I should ask that. Waited about a month for my blood levels to regulate and then had 2 radioactive iodine treatments - of which the hardest part was being away from my kids. From what that showed, nothing had spread. Got my meds pretty well regulated now - still feel really crumby some days. Not sure if it's the holidays or what, but am extremely emotional about this all of a sudden. I am having fits with my husband, who is dealing with his father having melanoma, and my kids who are really too young to understand, but know that something is really wrong with Mommy. I feel really left out with all of this - like no one understands just how scared I am about my future - especially with my kids. I have a feeling I'll be okay, and that I am freaking out about nothing, but something in the back of my mind won't let this go. I do this christmas newsletter every year to tell people what's going on with our family, and I mentioned it in the letter because there were a lot of people we never told about the diagnosis. When I asked my husband how he liked it, he didn't say anything - just brushed it off. I talk about what happened to me to help me deal with it - or I think I do - sometimes I sit back and it looks like I'm talking too much - like I like the attention. Not sure where I am going with this, but hoping that someone can relate to this on an emotional level - and I'm not loosing my mind. I see my dr. again in a few weeks and I'll chat with him then, but it would be nice to talk to someone who's not a dr. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks

chrisl's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2002

I can definitely relate. My nodule was found while pregnant with my 2nd child. Thyroid, 1 parathyroid and 7 lymphnodes removed in April, and then I-131 in July. I felt and still feel like many people do not understand the fear and uncertainty that follows me everywhere. I seem to always have people telling me how lucky I am to have thryoid cancer because it is slow growing and usually treatable. But every patient, no matter how serious the illness needs support. I seem to experience 2 scenarios-either people compare my situation to cancers like breast or colon and tell me I am lucky, or they see that I did not lose my hair or become ematiated and simply ignore my diease. The cancer is part of me now, and I think about it every day. It is a challenging experience.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2003

Julie, thanks for your post. I am 29 and was diagnosied with thyroid cancer last April (2002). I can definitely relate to what you are feeling. I often feel like I am very alone in this despite the tremendous support of my husband, mom, and extended family. Actually, the thing that is hardest for me is dealing with my own mortality. Lately, I've been scared of every little ache or pain. It's not that I fear that these aches are caused by the thyroid cancer - more like I'm worried that something else could be wrong with me. Actually, something else did go wrong - I started getting terrible chest pains and found out that I have a pretty harmless heart abnormality called mitral valve prolapse. Every time my chest hurts I fear that something is really wrong (I've learned that this fear is a typical reaction of people with mvp, but still not fun). I guess I've lost a healthy body image. I don't trust my body anymore. Most people tell me that I'm going to be fine and that thyroid cancer is the "best" kind of cancer. It doesn't change the fact that my body failed me. That I am now someone who is capable of getting cancer. I've always had terrific health up until last year - No longer young and invincable. I feel like a hypochondriac and a complainer... but I never felt this way before the cancer. Really, the hardest part of all this has been the emotional process. It's good to know that there is a support group out there. I hope we can help each other.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2003

Dear Julie,I can't recomend any books but gee its good to find someone else out there the same and to know you aren't alone

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2002

Dear Julie, I had medullary ca 4 years ago & I still feel vulnerable every day. Sometimes you push it aside to get thru life & some days it seems to be in your every thought. I hate when people say thyroid ca is the "good" kind of cancer to have; there is nothing good about cancer. I read a very good book called "After Cancer" by Wendy Schlessel Harpham, MD . I re-read it whenever I have to go for check-ups or when I need reassurance. I also recently went to a cancer survivors support group. It helped me realize I was not alone & that other people have the same fears that I do. No body can understand fully unless they have experienced it too. Keep living each day to it's fullest!

Posts: 20
Joined: Apr 2002

I laughed when I read this thread - how many times have I been told how lucky I am to have thyroid cancer?! People are the same everywhere aren't they? My emotional reaction has been different than yours, Julie. I lived in extreme fear of cancer after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer about 12 years ago. I felt like it was some being that wasn't done destroying my family yet. When I was diagnosed, my mortality smacked me in the face! I am a healthy, young mommy, not some woman living in a decrepit body...but my body does feel decrepit some days (no matter what the endo says my body should feel like). The good news is that I am not afraid of cancer anymore. I feel like I faced it and won, although I recognize the battle is ongoing. It is so nice to know there are other people who feel like I do, and even hear the same things I do! Thanks for your postings.

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2003

I have read all of the letters in this group and it brings me to tears. I am glad to know I am not the only one getting told everything is fine, and it is the good kind to have, blah, blah blah. I was diagnosed this past Monday -the day before my 32nd birthday. My children are 7 and 5. I have the right to be scared, mad, depressed or any other thing I wish to feel. My whole family keeps saying it's nothing, but for me that is the farthest from the truth. They will not know if it has spread until the surgery - I meet with the surgeon Monday. Only when I am told I am cancer free will I feel better. I know that I will get through this, but coming from a family with a long history of cancer, it is hard to always see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for your postings and for letting me know that the emotions are OK. God Bless Us All!

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2003

Hello my name is Wilma 39 years old and I have Papillary Cancer. I was diagnosed with this type of cancer last April 11, 2003. I felt the lump on my neck awhile back but i thought it was nothing, then on March 11, 2003 the lump is now visible and it hurts when I swallow. I went to see my internist the next day and he felt the lump and ordered me to have the ultrasound done on that sameday. Ultrasound results came back and he stated I have two nodules on the rt.side of my neck ,He referred me to see an Endocronologist. My endo Dr. did the needle biopsy and biopsy came back positive for Papillary Cancer and My endo Dr. refered me see a surgeon right away to have my thyroid remove.

When I heard from my Endo Dr. the word CANCER I couldn't believe myself. I ask her how did I get this type of cancer?? I was not exposed to any type of radiation on my neck? I was so depressed when I found out I have Papillary Cancer. I had my surgery done 5-20-03 and I will be doing my I131 on 7-15-03 I am currently doing the low-iodine diet. The surgeon that removed my thyroid said that when he opened up my neck the tumor is already attached to the muscle of my neck, he said he scraped-off everything he could and he was not sure if he got all of the tumor out. A lot of my friends is saying that Papillary Cancer is one of the curable and easy to treat. I want to live longer my son is only 18 months old and I want to see him grow, we have waited 11 years for my son and we went to all the emotional stress of infertility.

But I trust God I know he wouldn't give me a son if I can't see him grow, I just need to be tough I know I can beat this cancer just like the rest of us on this board. If someone wants to talk to me pls don't hesitate to e-mailme. God Bless you All.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2003

Will somebody please tell me why it is that people will not talk about me having cancer to my face? I was diagnosed last november with papillary thyroid cancer, and I think that I"ve spent more energy on trying to explain it to people or deal with their response then in actually emotionally dealing with it myself. I am a theater person, and at one of my rehearsals my director, who is my very good friend, asked if I'd like her to let a few of our theater friends know. I said yes, and by the end of the rehearsal most all of the people knew, which was fine. Twenty something people went up to my father and gave him their sympathies- but not one person came to comfort me! Why is this?
Another problem I have had is that, like one of the postings here, people seem to believe that I shouldn't talk about my cancer. My parents have told most of their friends only that I have a thyroid 'problem', and not that I have cancer. They say that it's nobody's business. They also have advised me to refrain from mentioning at college next year, and are upset that most of my school and all my acquaintances know the truth. Somehow, many people- not just my parents- think that it is inappropriate and rude of my to tell people that I have cancer. When people ask why I look like my head was cut off, they are shocked and bothered when I tell them the truth. Why is it that we are supposed to lie? I have thyroid cancer and that is the truth. I don't need to make it sound worse than it is, but I don't want to lie and say I have a thyroid 'problem'. Does anyone else encounter this?

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2002

I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer last April 2002 - 6 weeks after giving birth to my 3rd child. i had the surgery at the end of June 2002 - and by the grace of God passed my follow up tests and did not require any I131. I go back next month (August 2003) for another full round of scans, and am a little bit nervous. the one thing that confuses me the most is the low-iodine diet. I'm afraid that the first time I didn't do it right and that's why the test results were so favorable. Who knows.
But - to the point of emotions. I have to admit that I feel differently than alot of you. When I was told I had cancer, what kind it was, the treatment options and cuarability I WAS relieved. I am endlessly grateful to God that my doctor didn't say "I've got bad news - you have lymphoma - or hodgkins". Thryroid cancer is treatable, and you can live with it. I don't think about my cancer everyday. I've only recently been thinking about it because I have to go in for more tests. There are times that i completely forget about the whole thing. I'm willing to bet that at some time in my future, I will face cancer again - and it will probably be alot more serious. but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy my life, my three beautiful children and my loving husband, all of which i consider gifts from God. Everybody reacts differently. Who knows - maybe i'm just in denial. I hope that everyone out there will at least take away from this experience of having cancer that life is precious, and temporary, and we should embrace it while we've got it!

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2003

I was diagnoised with thyriod cancer in July of 2002, 2 years after I had my daughter. Emotionally its been a realy tuff year but I try to keep positive. I just keep looking forward to the next step in treatment and hope that I'm finished soon. I've had two I-131 treatments and two surgeries. I'm going in for my next scan the end of August. I hope and pray it comes back clean and then maybe I can move forward with having more children. Emotionally its been difficult because my husband and I were trying to have more children when this happened. Thankfully I wasn't pregnant when my cancer was found. Good luck to all of you and if you have any good advice please post a message.

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2003

This is the first time I have been to any kind of support group for my cancer. I am 33 years old and was diagnosed with papillary cancer in June (on my sons 12th B-day). I had felt the lump in my throat for two years but always got a pat on the head from the doctor "oh honey you don't have cancer". Even though my mother had lymphoma two years earlier of which I told everyone who would listen. So my diagnosis was delayed and quite a shock. I had a thryoidectomy on June 23rd and just underwent my I131 last Friday (July 25). I have a body scan scheduled for Monday and am scared. I had to also have 5 lymphnodes removed. I am with everyone on this subject because not so much my family but my husband treats it like since I have had the surgery that I am well now. Which is not the case. I still have steps to go through and questions to be answered. I feel that I am being overly emotional about this and maybe not cutting him enough slack but after reading some of these messages, maybe not. I have two children ages 14 and 12 and my mortatality is not something I wanted to deal with at the age of 33. For everyone else in my household life is going on and they are expecting me to go along with them and I am trying my best. My husband thinks I am "moody" because I have not started any medication yet (I will today), maybe he is right but I feel mostly stressed to keep up with everything when my mind is preoccupied with what Monday could hold. I hate to keep talking to my same friends and family because I feel like I am overloading them with my problems. I even thought about sitting my husband down in front of this computer and letting him read how others are dealing with this. But hopefully just typing this message will help because I feel like I am about to explode. I know I am rambling now and just wanted to thank you all for being so honest and giving people like me the opportunity to vent.

Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2003

Wow! How affirming to hear other people dealing with the same issues as me... Like many of you, I was diagnosed a year ago, had a total thyroidectomy in jan/2002, i-131 in april/2002, and am now preparing for my second i-131. i've been trying to connect with other thyroid patients over the course of the last year, but those i've found don't seem to be having the same emotional experiences. your words about the "best" cancer and being a hypochondriac resonate strongly. i am a strong, spiritual person, but the fear seeps in daily. while i have an amazing husband, i hesitate to share too much of my anxiety for fear that i will instill it in him and make him less able to support me. in addition, i've been unable to reclaim the physical strength i had pre-i-131. would you be interested in setting up a regular meeting of support?

Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2004

what you are feeling is very normal. The thyroid
gland is connected to the pituitary gland in the brain. It regulates everything, body tempature,
hormone levels, the digestive tract and yes, it
can cause feelings of emotion "rollercoaster".
You didn't mention how old you are. But I am betting that your hormones are off balance from the sugery and the radiation. There is a new book out by Suzzanne Sommers " The sexy years" , it's all about the importance of balancing our hormones. And not with synthetic ones either. I have had thyroid cancer for three years so I know what you are going through. I am 51 and already through menopause. But I quit taking my sythetic hormones. I am going to a specialist. An Endocronologist that takes a sample of blood and then prescribes a formula of "bioidentical" hormones. The prescription is taken to a compounding pharmacy. The hormone replacement that women are given today are not right for our bodies. The doctors prescribe the same medicine for everyone. You should insist that your endocronologist due a blood panel and see where your hormone levels are. If he says it is not necessary, seek out some one that will listen to you. I have had three oncologists. I see my new one tomorrow. I would ask questions, tell them what I was experiencing and they would blow me off like it was all in my mind. I was told that
"you have the best cancer to get" well, three years later it doesn't seem so best to me. If you
continue to feel bad, don't give up. Keep asking questions. If they don't answere them find someone that will. And check out that book, It's an eye opener. God bless. Torey2004

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