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June 15th, 2017

What I learned in the plastic room

By mjf

I was seeing my regular doctor, Jan Miyakawa M.D., for other reasons when she noticed a thyroid nodule. She has been my doctor for over 30 years and she is amazing. Because of regular check ups and a good relationship, she was able to notice this right away,

She said they are usually benign but we need to have it scanned. A biopsy followed which indicated I had papillary thyroid cancer.

I have an 11 year old, I run my own business and have a family that loves me dearly so the toughest part was hearing that I have cancer.

We did research and found out about Dr. Yeh. We also thought we would get an opinion from a place closer to where we lived. Dr. Yeh is very calm and the office is Zen like. I felt really good about it. Dr. Yeh told me that he wouldn't do anything I didn't need. We would see if we got it all before we proceeded to other steps.

I went to another very respected facility that was nearer my home. But the experience wasn't the same. It wasn't the right fit for me.

I needed someone who could calmly walk me through. I was introduced to Dr. Smooke who understood my fears as a mother. She helped me deal with the family stuff. I had the surgery a year ago and it went really well. All the staff was great.

They put a patch behind my ear and I woke up feeling really good - no nausea. The recovery room nurse was great.

Later it was found that the cancer had gone into lymph nodes and a little into muscles so I wasn't done yet. I needed radioactive iodine a few months later. Going to nuclear medicine was a little like being on a Discovery Channel episode. They broke down the facts and science for me which is what I needed. Dr. Shiepers told me what I was going to get is what terrorists want to make dirty bombs out of. He spent a long time talking to us and was so wonderful.

I went on a special diet for several months - a low iodine diet. Then I was locked into a room where everything was covered in plastic. The door was very thick and all the walls were draped in plastic. I was given a pill to swallow and then was checked with a Geiger counter.

I was locked in for 3 days and given lots of water to drink. It was hard to be alone and everything I had with me - books, phone - could not come out of the room.

The process was humbling. I can't say enough about the doctors. Looking back, the hardest part was the beginning because of the mental part. But going through I felt empowered as I was taking care of it.

The challenge is not to worry about every little thing signaling a reoccurrence. I am lucky cause I caught it early, it was very treatable and I had the best medical team.

Tags: benign, biopsy, Cancer, cancer, cancer in lymph nodes, Dr. Janice Miyakawa, Dr. Micheal Yeh, Dr. Stephanie Smooke Praw, Endocrine, Endocrine Surgery, Endocrinology, Geiger counter, low iodine diet, lymph nodes, nuclear medicine, papillary thyroid cancer, patient stories, radioactive iodine, special diet, surgery, Surgery, thyroid cancer

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