Meet Kathryn...

Kathryn was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June 2014
 

When were you diagnosed and what with?

I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June 2014, but first heard that I might have cancer just before my 40th birthday - not quite the present I was hoping for!

How did you find out you had cancer?

I had a routine MRI for a longstanding neck problem after which my GP told me they had found a lump which was 'probably nothing' -  but I was referred for a biopsy just to be sure. I had two biopsies and I genuinely thought nothing of it - but after the second one they said it was probably cancerous. After my first operation to remove half of my thyroid I was told it definitely was cancer.

What did you think and feel when you were diagnosed?

On the day I was diagnosed I think I was just stunned. The consultant who told me had little experience of thyroid cancer and certainly didn't sugar the pill! My husband and I were in and out of his office in 5 minutes, with no support at all offered. When the news sank in a bit, I felt scared and unsure of what to expect -  but I was mainly focused on the next operation which was going to happen a couple of weeks later, and how much I was dreading that!

How did the people around you react?

There was a mixture of reactions. Some were fantastically supportive and were there practically and emotionally. Others, including old friends, just didn't seem to be able to offer support and some friendships changed forever. What was amazing was how kind people could be - family and friends, of course, but also work colleagues who I didn't even know that well took the time to send cards, gifts, texts and well wishes. A close family member had cancer at the same time and she was a lifeline - someone to let off steam with who really understood.

What treatment did you have?

I had two operations within 6 weeks, each to remove half of the thyroid, and then I had radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, which involves being in a lead-lined room in isolation for up to a week while the radiation works its way out of your body! I'm also taking thyroxine to replace what my thyroid used to do - although it is in no way a good substitute for the real thing!

How did you feel through treatment?

Up and down, and then down and up...and up and down again! It really is a rollercoaster. My body really didn't (and still doesn’t) like the thyroixine so it took a long time to get my levels right, and I had severe fatigue and nausea for a long time afterwards. I felt proud of myself for coming through it all though, and every little step back to 'normal' life spurred me on.

What happened after treatment finished?

About 10 months after treatment I had a follow up scan with a small dose of radioactive iodine to check whether the treatment had worked. The results came through about a month later to say there was no sign of cancer and now it's routine monitoring. I went back to work on a phased return and that really helped.

How did you get involved with Shine?

I didn’t know about Shine during my treatment which is such a shame as I think it would have been a massive support. I found out about it on social media and am now a keen follower! I'm hoping to go to an event in Manchester later in the year too. I wish I had known about it earlier.

What difference has Shine made to you?

People sometimes think that once you are 'all clear' that it's all over. Shine people understand that that's far from the truth, and on days when I'm feeling rough or low I can log on and hear from people who truly understand what it's like to look 'fine' but feel rubbish! Also the positive stories and warm support members give each other is really helpful.

How do you feel now about your experiences? What‘s been the biggest change you’ve faced?

The biggest change is accepting what my body can and can't do now. I have to think far more about pacing myself and spend my energy wisely. Yoga has been a massive help with that and is now a daily routine.  It's also made me so grateful for those who really stood by me, including my husband, who took his in 'sickness and health' vows very seriously!

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself before your what would it be?

There's a perception (which I've heard from the medical profession more than once) that thyroid cancer is the 'good' cancer because the prognoiss is generally good -  and I remember repeating that to people when I first heard I might have it! I would now tell myself and anyone else that there is no 'good' cancer.  Yes, it's great that it's treatable, but it is still a really steep hill to climb - so go easy on yourself and you will come out the other side. 

               When were you diagnosed and what with?

I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June 2014, but first heard that I might have cancer just before my 40th birthday - not quite the present I was hoping for!

               How did you find out you had cancer?

I had a routine MRI for a longstanding neck problem after which my GP told me they had found a lump which was 'probably nothing' -  but I was referred for a biopsy just to be sure. I had two biopsies and I genuinely thought nothing of it - but after the second one they said it was probably cancerous. After my first operation to remove half of my thyroid I was told it definitely was cancer.

               What did you think and feel when you were diagnosed?

On the day I was diagnosed I think I was just stunned. The consultant who told me had little experience of thyroid cancer and certainly didn't sugar the pill! My husband and I were in and out of his office in 5 minutes, with no support at all offered. When the news sank in a bit, I felt scared and unsure of what to expect -  but I was mainly focused on the next operation which was going to happen a couple of weeks later, and how much I was dreading that!

               How did the people around you react?

There was a mixture of reactions. Some were fantastically supportive and were there practically and emotionally. Others, including old friends, just didn't seem to be able to offer support and some friendships changed forever. What was amazing was how kind people could be - family and friends, of course, but also work colleagues who I didn't even know that well took the time to send cards, gifts, texts and well wishes. A close family member had cancer at the same time and she was a lifeline - someone to let off steam with who really understood.

               What treatment did you have?

I had two operations within 6 weeks, each to remove half of the thyroid, and then I had radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, which involves being in a lead-lined room in isolation for up to a week while the radiation works its way out of your body! I'm also taking thyroxine to replace what my thyroid used to do - although it is in no way a good substitute for the real thing!

               How did you feel through treatment?

Up and down, and then down and up...and up and down again! It really is a rollercoaster. My body really didn't (and still doesn’t) like the thyroixine so it took a long time to get my levels right, and I had severe fatigue and nausea for a long time afterwards. I felt proud of myself for coming through it all though, and every little step back to 'normal' life spurred me on.

               What happened after treatment finished?

About 10 months after treatment I had a follow up scan with a small dose of radioactive iodine to check whether the treatment had worked. The results came through about a month later to say there was no sign of cancer and now it's routine monitoring. I went back to work on a phased return and that really helped.

               How did you get involved with Shine?

I didn’t know about Shine during my treatment which is such a shame as I think it would have been a massive support. I found out about it on social media and am now a keen follower! I'm hoping to go to an event in Manchester later in the year too. I wish I had known about it earlier.

               What difference has Shine made to you?

People sometimes think that once you are 'all clear' that it's all over. Shine people understand that that's far from the truth, and on days when I'm feeling rough or low I can log on and hear from people who truly understand what it's like to look 'fine' but feel rubbish! Also the positive stories and warm support members give each other is really helpful.

               How do you feel now about your experiences? What‘s been the biggest change you’ve faced?

The biggest change is accepting what my body can and can't do now. I have to think far more about pacing myself and spend my energy wisely. Yoga has been a massive help with that and is now a daily routine.  It's also made me so grateful for those who really stood by me, including my husband, who took his in 'sickness and health' vows very seriously!

               If you could give one piece of advice to yourself before your what would it be?

There's a perception (which I've heard from the medical profession more than once) that thyroid cancer is the 'good' cancer because the prognoiss is generally good -  and I remember repeating that to people when I first heard I might have it! I would now tell myself and anyone else that there is no 'good' cancer.  Yes, it's great that it's treatable, but it is still a really steep hill to climb - so go easy on yourself and you will come out the other side.