This Thanksgiving I am thankful to not have cancer – I hope.
Six months ago my family doctor sent me for a CT scan because I went in to be checked out for something that felt weird which ended up being nothing. However the CT scan did reveal some nodules in my thyroid. A local endocrinologist did a fine-needle biopsy and said one of the nodules was 30 percent suspicious of malignancy. I went to another doctor out of town who did the same test that came back inconclusive and then another test which revealed the same nodule was about 40 percent suspicious of malignancy. I asked the question, “What should I do?” and his response was we need to remove the entire thyroid within two months.
I didn’t really want to do the surgery and have read many reports about people living their entire lives with thyroid nodules. I have read many die with thyroid malignancy that never caused them any trouble. Of course, cancer anywhere in your body is never working to your advantage.
I agreed to have the surgery and pathology revealed that I not only had a suspicious nodule but four malignant nodules. According to the extensive report I had three malignant ones on the right lobe of my thyroid and one malignant one on the left side of my thyroid. The pathology report, surgeon and supervising endocrinologist all have assured me that the malignancies were small and contained within the thyroid and no further treatments are necessary at this time. Of course for the rest of my life I will be visiting my doc for surveillance to see if anything nasty pops back up.
This, of course, is the short version of the story. The main point is I’m better off with cancer out of my body than in it. This time last year I was clueless that anything so detrimental to my health was lurking beneath the surface. This year I will celebrate Thanksgiving for a miraculous early detection and a surgery that ended up being the only real choice to make.
My voice is not strong yet after the surgery and I have a little pill to take every day but who cares I am alive, feel good and writing this column. I have to praise God almighty for his grace toward me. I also have to be thankful for medical insurance that provided me a way to go to a place where I chose to go. Two other doctors told me that I only needed half of my thyroid removed and if cancer was found then I could have the other half removed. Who wants to have two surgeries? I did not. The doctor I sought out could not prove I had malignancy on my left lobe but simply said, “I don’t like how it looks and I think the whole thing needs to come out.” I am grateful that I got to choose my doctor and my place of surgery. Every American should have the option of choosing their doctor and place of medical care.
Some people are not as fortunate. I have several friends who could not beat cancer and passed on this year. Often times the symptoms was already an indication that things were already too late for them to treat their condition.
As a word of caution I want to strongly say that simply waiting to see what your condition does often ends up being an emergency down the road. If you have an early warning then trying to move forward to aggressively eliminate the problem or treat it is the only way to have a chance of winning. Of course, we are talking about our human bodies and there will always be something to repair or deal with concerning our health. We go from one thing to another if we are blessed to live long enough.
Thus, this Thanksgiving I am thankful – very thankful.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.