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Thyroid Nodule: Cancer Scare in my Twenties

Updated on June 19, 2013
The Thyroid Gland
The Thyroid Gland | Source

Preface

I am not a medical doctor. The contents of this hub are from my experience and journey navigating the health concerns and tests associated with having a large thyroid nodule. The information provided is based on what I have experienced and learned through treatment with my healthcare provider.

What is a thyroid nodule?

A thyroid nodule is a lump or growth on the thyroid gland in the front of your neck. From what I’ve come to understand, most thyroid nodules are small and you aren’t even aware you have one. Most are not cancerous and don’t cause any problems. Others may cause problems in the way of your thyroid function, pain or discomfort, or even trouble breathing if the nodule is large enough. For more information contact your healthcare provider.

Diagnosing my Thyroid Nodule:

I never expected to hear the word "cancer" while in my mid-twenties. In my mind I am still young and physically active, so why would I need to think about that scary "C" word at this time in my life? Well, it happened, and it has been the scariest experience of my life.

During a routine physical exam, my personal physician noticed what felt like an enlarged thyroid gland. Because of this enlargement I was given a referral to get an ultrasound of the glad. At this point, I really hadn’t thought much about it. I knew thyroid problems ran in my family, so at worst, I thought I was experiencing some sort of thyroid function problem.

The day I was told I might have cancer:

Two days after I completed the ultrasound, my physician called me and informed me that my results were abnormal. I had a large, 2 centimeter, nodule on the left side of my thyroid gland. I was told that many physicians begin to get concerned with nodules that are 1 centimeter in size, so a biopsy would be needed as soon as possible to determine if it was cancerous.

At this moment, it felt like everything inside me dropped. Granted, I may have overreacted not actually having a diagnosis of cancer yet, but I was terrified. My mind kept catapulting to the worst case scenario. I started thinking about my family history; my grandmother passed from breast cancer before I was born, my grandfather recently lost his battle with melanoma, my uncle passed from esophageal cancer, my cousin was diagnosed with uterine cancer in her twenties…all the odds seemed to be against me (and in many respects still are).

I played the "what if" game in my head endlessly. Hoping for the best case, but expecting the worst.

Two weeks later, I was in the Endocrinologists’ office getting a biopsy with a fine-needle aspiration, still expecting the worst. The doctor used an ultrasound machine to find the nodule, and stuck a needle through my neck into the nodule to remove sample fluids. This process was repeated 3 or 4 times to get different samples to test. I must say, this was rather uncomfortable!

My results:

Before leaving the Endocrinologists office, he explained to me that the results could be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). If it was cancer, there were several different treatment options that could be taken. If it was not cancerous, he wanted to closely monitor the growth with annual biopsies to make sure no cancerous cells had developed.

The final results took about a week to get back. A week felt like an eternity! However, despite all my worrying, the test was negative for cancer!

What is the treatment for a thyroid nodule?

I can really only attest to the treatment plan that my provider has set for me. There are so many different possible considerations when it comes to each individual’s situation that the best bet for more information would be to consult your physician.

In my case, because my results were benign (non-cancerous) I will have to make annual appointments with the Endocrinologist to complete an ultrasound. If the nodule has grown any, I will need a new biopsy to test for cancer growth. Also, if the nodule ends up getting much larger, further action may need to be taken. Only time will tell in my case.

5 steps to staying positive and not thinking about the worst future outcome:

Because my experience is very recent, I’ve had to deal with quite a lot of fear and negative internal conversation about what future outcomes may take place. I know I have a foreign, abnormal growth in my body that could become cancerous and because of this I’ve had quite a lot of anxiety over it. To deal with my anxiety, I’ve promised myself 5 simple steps:

  1. Take care of your body. There is no room for thinking that because you’re young you can indulge in unhealthy eating habits and an inconsistent physical exercise routine. So take care of your body now, and it won’t be as difficult/problematic in the future. Eat healthy food choices. Exercise daily. Period.
  2. Take care of your mind. A strong mind contributes to a healthy body, so take time every day to meditate and acknowledge your thoughts and concerns without judgment. Acknowledgement of those thoughts will allow your mind a moment of much needed piece.
  3. Laugh daily.
  4. Indulge yourself every once in a while. Taking time for yourself is important, so make time to allow something you enjoy; a manicure or pedicure, a walk through the park, a trip to the beach, or a small present to yourself. Anything that will allow you a moment to spend enjoying your own company.
  5. Enjoy every day. Take each day as it comes and enjoy the small moments that are usually taken for granted. While work and daily nuances may not be the most fun, there are positive moments happening all day long. Notice them! Even if it is as simple as enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

Enjoy the little things, meditate, treat yourself to something beautiful.
Enjoy the little things, meditate, treat yourself to something beautiful. | Source

Have you had an early cancer scare?

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Comments or Questions

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    • profile image

      Lisa 

      3 years ago

      I am a 35 yr old female. In this month I found out I have Hoshimoto's disease. They did a throat ultrasound and found what they thought to be an 8 centimeter goiter. 10 day's ago I had a full thyroidectomy. Today I wen't for my post op apt, turns out that I didn't have a goiter. I had an 8 centimeter (size of a grapefruit) Nodule filled with "cancerous looking I can't remember what he said" but they are being sent to a specialist at Stanford. I am scared!! Wouldn't the hospital's pathology know if it were cancer?? Why the need to send to Stanford??

    • Briana Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Briana Faye 

      5 years ago from California

      Prasetio, thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. I learn many things here. Prevention is better than cure. I think better know earlier, right! Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • Briana Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Briana Faye 

      5 years ago from California

      Denise, thank you for your kind words and wonderful support! I really appreciate it.

      Stina, that is very scary. I hope everything works out for you, and hopefully soon you will be cancer-free! All the best!

    • Stina Caxe profile image

      Cristina 

      5 years ago from Virginia

      Briana, Actually my first biopsy was inconclusive. I ended up getting a second one done and it also came back inconclusive. I did have nodules though so my original surgery was to remove them and they would be tested for cancer while I was still unconscious. As soon as my doctor opened me up he could see it was cancer and proceeded to remove my entire thyroid. Since then, each biopsy I've gotten showed cancer, but they were done with ultrasound so maybe it was easier to get the right results that way.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Briana-good for you for writing about your experience despite a not having any medical background. As a patient, you share a wealth of information. I especially like the 5 steps to staying positive. Thumbs UP and useful/interesting. I'll pass it on.

    • Briana Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Briana Faye 

      5 years ago from California

      @Stina, I'm so sorry you are having to deal with that. It can be really tough. Was your first biopsy positive? Thank you for your for your positive feedback.

    • Stina Caxe profile image

      Cristina 

      5 years ago from Virginia

      I found out I had thyroid nodules when I turned 30. Here I am 5 years later battling thyroid cancer for the third time. It seems like this cancer is becoming more common as more people are being made aware of it. Good job on the Hub, I am happy you are doing well.

    • movingonwithlife profile image

      Dr. Leila Marsha Peterson 

      5 years ago

      Hello. I just signed up, and I saw your post. My Mom just got out of the hospital and I do understand when you say "scare"d. Anyway, the thyroid needs a lot of iodine to function properly, and one layman's way (which is not very accurate) way to test them is by applying store bought iodine on 2 inches square of your skin (wrist to me is best, cuz you can watch the changes easily). The iodine stain is supposed to stay on for about 24 hours. Less than that means your body may need some support.

    • Briana Faye profile imageAUTHOR

      Briana Faye 

      5 years ago from California

      @mary615, thank you for your feedback! I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. I sincerely hope everything turns out ok. The waiting can be the worst part. Hang in there, and I wish you the best!

      @jpcmc, thank you for stopping by and leaving feedback. I really appreciate the support.

      @jo Goldsmith11, thank you for your comment. I hope everything turns out ok with your thyroid problems. Go see your doctor! There is never a good time for "bad news," but until you know what you are working with you don't know if you even need to be worried.

      @2uesday, thank you so much for your comments. I am hopeful that sharing my experience may help someone else dealing with a scary health situation. I really appreciate your encouraging words!

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 

      5 years ago

      I am happy that the results of the tests were good news. I think your experience shared has made this a useful page which could be reassuring to read for anyone waiting for test results, or even someone who is trying to take the first step of consulting a doctor.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 

      5 years ago

      I am so glad you are okay. Keep positive! I am so glad I found this. I have thyroid problems and I am too chicken to seek out any medical poking into the problem. I think part of not wanting to go is that I will be told bad news. I am not ready for it. I don't think I would ever be. Great advice on taking care of yourself. Great writing. shared & tweeted :)

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It probably was really scary for you. Good thing it turned out differently.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      5 years ago from Florida

      I have had a scare about cancer (turned out to be nothing), but it is such a scary subject. I have a daughter who has something on her vocal chords. She has to have more tests to determine what to do about it.

      I wish you the best.

      I voted this UP, etc.

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