Learning to be Patient after a Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

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#8 in the Overcoming Challenges Series

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Today, I welcome Jamie Pirtle who is sharing her personal story of Learning to be Patient after a Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis.

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You’ve got cancer…..

Hearing the words “you’ve got cancer” is never what you want to hear, but there I was, hearing my doctor say those awful words.

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Learning to be patient after a thyroid cancer diagnosis

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Learning patience

Being patient has never been one of my virtues and my friends and husband often make jokes about how impatient I am.  This season in my life forced me to look patience right square in the eyes both before and after the diagnosis.

Knowing something was wrong, I had been looking for answers for over a year and a half.  I had such low energy, thinning hair, a hoarse voice, trouble swallowing and just overall felt horrible.

Finally, a diagnosis

I visited every specialist I could think of and heard diagnoses of stress, acid reflux, upper respiratory virus, allergies, everything but what was actually wrong.  I begged my primary care doctor to scan my thyroid even though my lab results showed my thyroid was “normal” and they discovered a nodule.

The nodule was too small to biopsy safely so I had to wait and have another scan in 6 months. Waiting on that next scan seemed like forever. I kept thinking maybe I can trick them into moving it up a few months but that didn’t work. I distracted my mind from thinking about it by keeping myself busy and studying all I could about the thyroid. Friends prayed for me and kept me busy in a group text, phone calls, and shopping trips.

The next scan showed the nodule had grown 2 times its size in just 6 months. This didn’t sound good to me or my primary doctor, but the local specialist said it was still too small to biopsy safely.

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Learning patience

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Patience only lasts so long

At this point, I was over being patient and took my health into my own hands.  I drove almost 2 hours to find an endocrinologist that would biopsy the nodule on my thyroid and then waited 3 days to find out it tested positive for cancer on my birthday.

This brought mixed feelings – relief that I had an answer and dread that it was cancer.  I sat in the parking lot and cried in my car.  I called my boyfriend, now husband, who was on a business trip and gave him the dreaded news. 

My next goal was to get this cancer out of my body as quickly as possible.  I found a surgeon and begged to get worked in.  We had a date set to remove the thyroid and probably a few lymph nodes in less than a week from the diagnosis.

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Light for healing energies

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Next came all the preop labs, chest X-Rays, and an EKG.  All seemed to be going on schedule to have my thyroid out at the end of September.  I took the day off before the surgery to run errands, have my hair cut, all those things you want to do since you will be recovering for a few weeks.

Surgery canceled

As I sat in the parking lot of the hair salon, I received a call from the surgeon and assumed it was my reminder call, but heard “we have canceled your surgery”.  What??  Why would you do that? 

It seems they had just been informed by the anesthesiologist that I failed the EKG. This is another long story of how my primary doctor missed this when he forwarded my records, but here I was having to postpone getting the cancer out.

Friends and family assured me that people fail the EKG all the time and this was just a flunk thing and the next one would be fine. Unfortunately, they were wrong.

I had to wait another week to schedule a stress test, which brought on more concerns and my blood pressure kept dropping when I would go from a sitting to a standing position.  All I could think about was will I ever get this cancer out of my body??

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Cancer diagnosis

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Thyroid causing issues

After failing the stress test, I had to go through many more tests, including a heart cath.  Finally, after almost 2 months of testing and doctor visits, it was determined that the thyroid was causing the heart issues.

My cardiologist convinced an anesthesiologist that I would be OK during surgery and my thyroid was removed along with a few lymph nodes at the end of November. Those 2 months were probably the longest months of my life.

Had it not been for the loving support from my now husband, friends, family and coworkers, I’m not sure I could have stayed sane through it all. My patience was certainly tested. I believe God puts the people in your life that he knows you need when you need them. 

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More In-Depth Reading: The Keto Diet May Halt The Growth Of Certain Cancers, Finds Study

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Improving health

After finding out the surgeon got all the cancer, I went on a journey of improving my health and learning all I could about how nutrition affects our health and the chances of getting cancer.  I’m now a certified health coach so I can help others learn how they can improve their health, boost their immune system, and lose weight, all while trying to prevent cancer one meal at a time.

Lessons learned

This lesson taught me that although you may want things done immediately, it’s just not always possible.  Take a deep breath, do what you can to move the process along, but trust that in the long run, things usually work out for the best. 

Another valuable lesson learned is you and you alone are responsible for your health. If something doesn’t seem right, continue to search until you have answers.

As the quote from Ovid, a Roman poet declares: “Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”

Article by: Jamie Pirtle
You can follow her at: Healthy With Jamie

Thank you, Jamie, for sharing your personal story on Learning to Be Patient after a Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis.

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Other articles in the Overcoming Challenges Series

Surviving Postpartum Depression
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How to Heal from Trauma
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Loving and Supporting Your Spouse’s Mental Health

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Learning to be patient after a thyroid cancer diagnosis

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