What form of cancer were you diagnosed with?
Papillary thyroid cancer
How long have you been undergoing some sort of treatment or how long has been your recovery?
I was diagnosed in Jan 2009, cancer-free since July 2009 after receiving a thyroidectomy and radioactive thyroid treatment.
When you were first diagnosed with cancer did you have many symptoms and if so how long had they persisted before you went to a doctor?
I was diagnosed in Jan 2009, after suffering from extreme fatigue, pass-out spells, inability to complete everyday tasks for almost a year, and had large “Adam’s apple-like” lumps in my neck. It was possibly triggered by the birth of my son in September 2007. I went to my PCP to explain these symptoms, and right away, he noticed the lumps in my throat. He sent me for a biopsy, and then the pathology board at Penn diagnosed me with an aggressive form of papillary thyroid cancer.
Can you offer any words of encouragement for patients who have been recently diagnosed with cancer?
There are so many advancements in the field of medicine, especially in oncology, there are so many treatment options now or becoming available. Be strong and be positive, and don’t feel like you are alone since there is a huge support network to help you get through this challenging time.
Had you tried alternative treatments, other than what was initially prescribed to you?
Yes, the original doctor wanted to remove malignant nodule, not full thyroid. After doing extensive research, I enrolled in a clinical trial at Penn, and they opted to remove entire thyroid (thyroidectomy), which ultimately made quality of life measures for me better than others who experienced same form of cancer.
From your initial diagnosis what was your quality of life? during treatment what is/was your quality of life now?
QOL prior to treatment was poor. Went from being an extremely energetic person to having absolutely no stamina. Several weeks after the treatment my energy levels began to return to normal, however, one of the side effects I endured was losing all short term memory for several months. My memory began to return to normal, however, I never regained 100% memory.
Were you able to turn your cancer fight into something positive and if so what did you do?
I look at life in a more positive way, I don’t let the small things upset me as much, and spend as much time as possible with family. Also, I participate in many 5K runs to support various forms of cancer.