Before I found out about my thyroid cancer I thought I was going through depression - I felt very moody and lethargic, finding myself napping at 9:30am. My wife began to notice these changes and was confused, because I'm normally not the type of person to feel down and tired all the time. I was unaware that these symptoms were due to an underlying thyroid condition. I had been having overall discomfort, and looking back retrospectively it was my body's way of telling me that I needed to see a doctor. It was a lingering cough that, despite any of my efforts, wouldn't go away. I was expecting a diagnosis for bronchitis or a chest infection, but when my general practitioner, Dr. Silverstein, inspected my lungs he found that they were completely clear. He continued with an examination and thought he felt a lump in my throat, something I assumed was just a swollen lymph node due to a virus. To determine the cause of this lump, I did a follow up appointment and ultrasound, and the following week I had a fine needle biopsy. He told me the news, and I stupidly started Googling whatever came up for thyroid cancer, and as soon as I read the list of symptoms I could see the similarities between the ones listed and the ones I had been experiencing.
It was hard finding out about having cancer, because my brother passed away 5 years ago from leukemia. The most difficult part of this diagnosis was figuring out how to tell the people I care about. The interesting thing about when you're the person that's going through the emotional and psychological aspects of the disease, is that you're often times the one doing the comforting when you're the one that traditionally should be comforted. Truthfully, I never had serious concerns that I wouldn't be ok - I started doing research on my own, but the concept of cancer itself is pretty frightening. Something amazing I notices was that as this was all happening, suddenly this community of people started to show up in my life. People whose friends have gone through similar experiences told me that they had gone through the process fine and that they were doing fine now. It was very reassuring to know that everything would be ok, but it was a true test of mental fortitude to have to go through this. Despite knowing that everything's going to be ok, it makes you really evaluate your life from a new perspective.
It was around a month in between my appointment and surgery, and the surgery went as well as it could have gone. I had very little post operative pain and did not have any infections or complications. It was an extremely clean surgery that was very well done. The scar was barely visible even a month after surgery, and the line is almost invisible now, coming back for my 2 year post operative checkup. Dr. Yeh was very considerate and sensitive to the fact that I use my voice for a living, and he put in every effort to ensure that my normal life wouldn't be affected by this surgery. The staff was incredibly hospitable and gracious, and when you're going into a situation as scary as this, it's very comforting to be surrounded by friendly people. The UCLA staff is incredible, and my wife and I feel very blessed to have worked with Dr. Yeh. I wish I didn't have to go through this, but having had to, I couldn't imagine a better, more thorough experience.
Tags: bronchitis, chest infection, depression, Dr. Michael Yeh, endocrine, Endocrine, Endocrine Center, Endocrine Surgery, Endocrinology, endocrinology, fine needle biopsy, leukemia, patient stories, swollen lymph node, thyroid cancer, thyroid condition, ultrasound