August 2008: My midwife detects a lump at my post-pardum check up after giving birth to our daughter. She sends me to an endocrinologist for further testing.
September 2008: The endocrinologist does blood work and an ultrasound. I do have a nodule on my thyroid but she says it’s probably benign. My blood work shows that I have a slightly over-active thyroid, and she assumes I have post-pardum thyroiditis. No treatment is needed.
January 2009: I return for lab work and I now have an under-active thyroid level. Again, my endocrinologist says it’s post-pardum thyroiditis.
July 2009: We find out we are expecting our second child! I almost don’t go to my follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist since I feel fine, but I figured since I am pregnant it’s best to go to see what my blood work says. I am still slightly hypo-thyroid so since I’m pregnant, she puts me on a small dose of synthroid (thyroid hormone). She also sends me for another ultrasound to measure the nodule on my thyroid.
August 2009: The ultrasound revealed the nodule had grown by a centimeter (now 2.5 cm large) and we decide to biopsy.
September 1, 2009: My doctor calls me with the biopsy results – I have papillary thyroid cancer.
September 14, 2009: I undergo a total thyroidectomy at 15 weeks pregnant.
October 2009: The pathology report looks good according to my endocrinologist and she doesn’t recommend any further treatment and will just monitor me the rest of my pregnancy.
November 2009: A nagging feeling makes us call a doctor for a second opinion. We go to UNMC to see Dr. Goldner who really review my pathology report and tells us things don’t look quite as clear as we thought and we will possibly need more treatment after the baby arrives. We are so impressed with her and her staff we decide to switch to Dr. Goldner for my cancer treatment.
March 3, 2010: I deliver a healthy baby boy, Leo! At 10lbs, he is as perfect as can be despite going through a roller coaster of a year inside mom.
April 2010: We do blood work and another ultrasound which reveal suspicious areas which need to be biopsied. Dr. Goldner suspects cancer on my lymph nodes. Biopsy results confirm that it’s more cancer.
May 2010: I have to stop nursing and prepare for a second surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes. The second surgery goes well and the pathology looks like the surgeon was able to remove everything. I need Radioactive Iodine to kill an microscopic disease that might be hanging out.
June 2010: After a series of injections and scans, I take a Radioactive Iodine pill and have to be in complete isolation for 24 hours. I can’t be around my family for 5 days and can’t hold my son for 10 days. This hopefully is the last of my treatment.
October 2010: I get another ultrasound and blood work taken, which reveal more suspicious areas. Dr. Goldner recommends another surgery to remove these areas.
December 1, 2010: My third surgery to remove thyroid cancer goes well. We await pathology results to see if I will need more treatment.
December 6, 2010: I get a call my doctors’s nurse that all the cancer was removed and the margins were clear. No radioactive iodine treatment needed! This is such a great day! I real turning point as the black cancer cloud was lifted a bit.
May 2011: Blood work and an ultrasound reveal three more suspicious areas that are most likely cancer. They are small and Dr. Goldner just wants to watch and see if these areas will just die on their own.
August 2011: Blood work and an ultrasound reveal the same three areas, but not much change in size which is good! Dr. Goldner does see a fourth surgery in my future since these areas aren’t going away like we hoped. We do decide to go get a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic to be sure we are going all that we can.
October 2011: We have several appointments at the Mayo Clinic, which reveal the same thing that UNMC had – three areas of cancer that are best treated with surgery. Mayo says there is no rush to do surgery since thyroid cancer is so slow growing, and that it is actually best to wait since one of the areas is near my vocal chordes. Waiting until this areas gets a little bigger will make surgery a little easier.
February 2012: Appointment at UNMC reveals that three tumor areas are stable (same size). I am told to follow up in six months to repeat testing.
July 2012: Appointments at UNMC reveal that the ultrasound shows tumors are stable. Blood work shows my tumor markers have increased slightly. Will go back in six months to repeat tests to see if tumor markers increase again as a trend, or if they remain stable or decrease.
May 2013: We have our third baby, Daphne!
January 2015: We have our fourth baby, Magdalene!
April 2016: We have a biopsy of one of the tumors in my neck to verify that it is thyroid cancer. We do this to determine if it’s time to have surgery to remove the remaining tumors. Biopsy reveals it for sure cancer.
October 2016: I undergo my fourth surgery, where two cancerous lymph nodes were removed, plus a third mass that was also determined to be cancerous as well.
November 2016: My post-surgery tumor markers show that there is still microscopic disease and a second round of radioactive iodine is recommended. We are going to wait and redraw labs in 8 weeks to see if tumor markers change on their own.