Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bringing Sexy Out of the Thyloset




September is thyroid cancer awareness month! Woohoo! To help raise awareness, I'm participating in Dear Thyroid's blog tour: 

What kind of thyroid cancer were you diagnosed with? How many years have you been a survivor?
I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in 2008. I'm coming up on my two year cancerversary!

September is thyroid cancer awareness month. What does that mean to you? Why do you think awareness is important? How do you spread awareness?
Personally, I think awareness should be spread twelve months out of the year. I don't think we should wait until September to tell people to "check your neck." However, I do think that this month is a wonderful opportunity to stand together with other survivors and organizations to raise awareness with one voice.

I like to spread awareness by telling my story. Awareness is effective when people can connect, when it's real. I am completely comfortable talking about my experience with cancer and am willing to talk with anyone about it. You can read more about my experience with cancer here and here. I write a column for Dear Thyroid that is solely about my experience with cancer. Check out the archives to get a better picture of what cancer has done to me and my life.

Statistics are important, too. Numbers matter. You can read more about the disturbing statistics associated with thyroid cancer here.

Many thyroid cancer patients have been told, "If you have to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get." What do you think of that statement? When you're told this, how do you respond?
I HATE hearing this; I think it's ludicrous and I cringe every time I hear it. Why does anyone have to get cancer? Why suggest that? Cancer is not a choice. I did not choose thyroid cancer instead of some other cancer.

When people say this, I get that they're trying to be encouraging. In case you're still not sure, let me clear things up for you--IT'S NOT ENCOURAGING. You DON'T make me feel better. When people say this, I try to respond calmly and remind the person that cancer is cancer and there is nothing good or easy about it. 

Dear Thyroid is constantly trying to dispel the myth that thyroid cancer is the good cancer or the easy cancer. What other myth would you like to dispel regarding thyroid cancer?
Myth: You just have to take one little pill and you'll be back to normal. It's no big deal.

WRONG! It is a big deal and a pill simply cannot replace the role of a healthy thyroid. It just can't. Even when my thyroid levels are "in range," I don't have the energy I used to have. My body is not the same as it used to be. Yes, that one little pill allows me to function and live, but it's not a magic pill.

What one thing would you tell the world about thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancer is not good. It is not easy. And it changes everything

What advice would you give to a newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patient?
It's okay to take time off from your "normal" routine. Take some time to focus on yourself. Cancer is a big deal and changes your whole life. Allow yourself time to absorb that and reflect on it. Connect with others who have gone through the same thing you're going through. Surround yourself only with those who are serious about supporting you. This is not a time in your life for fair-weather friends.

Do you have a funny thyroid cancer related story you're willing to share?
I think I've maybe blogged about this before, but I can't remember. If you've already read this story, humor me and pretend you're reading it for the first time.

In February of this year I had to have a lymph node removed. The doctor couldn't get a good biopsy of the node and due to my high initial lymph node involvement, my endo and I decided to get this node out. SO, I'm at the hospital on surgery day. I'm hooked up to the IV and wearing the super sexy hospital gown and sleep socks with grippers on the bottom. The anesthesiologist comes into my room to discuss my medical history, drug allergies, etc. The last question he asks (or at least the last question I hear) is, "Do you have any health problems?" Nah, I just thought I'd stop by for kicks. You know, having my neck sliced and diced is my idea of a good time. My actual response: "Um, you mean like THYROID CANCER?!" He has no response to that, so he turns and walks out of the room. Once he leaves, my mom and I look at each other and die laughing and proceed to make fun of him. Yes, he was right outside my room making notes in my chart, and yes, he could hear us laughing at him, but that's what he gets for asking stupid questions.


Dear Thyroid is a thyroid support community and literary brand. Our goal is to connect patients with each other, to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers, and to give all thyroid patients a voice. We come together as a united front to invoke change on behalf of thyroid patients worldwide. Thyroid patients are invited to submit letters to their thyroids, thyroid rants and raves, and other literary creations. Help us to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers by wearing your disease on your sleeve and by requesting one of our free awareness bands. Visit DearThyroid.org to learn more!




4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I'm so proud of you.

Joanna Isbill said...

Thanks, Chris!! I'm looking forward to yours tomorrow!!

Laura said...

You are pretty amazing! I am always amazed by your honesty, your openness and your bravery in facing this terrible thing called cancer.

Love you friend!!! :)

Now What said...

Hi Joanna,

I wanted to get in contact with you on behalf of CanTeen’s Now What website. (www.nowwhat.org.au). A website which has been designed by young people, for young people living with cancer. I came across your blog and thought I had to get in contact with you to request if you would share your story with the Now What community. You can do this by either replying to this email with it attached, or submitting it via the online story submission form on the website here: http://www.nowwhat.org.au/stories/add

Your story is definitely an empowering one and we would love for you to share it on Now What with other young people. Even if you simply want to give me permission to republish a post on your blog about your cancer experience, I would be very grateful.

A published paper on the impact of accessing cancer-related stories on the internet by people affected by cancer concluded that ‘writing about personally upsetting experiences-like having cancer-can lead to significant health imporovements. Illness stories are not only beneficial for writers, we think, but also for readers who are in the same situation, fellow patients. They can use writers’ illness stories as examples for repairing the life story.’

It’s this, plus the many other research findings on cancer-related stories that confirm how important the story section of our website is to providing support to young people.

Thanks for sharing your story online, and I hope we can share your story on Now What too. Of course, we could put a link to your blog at the end of it so people can keep updated etc.

Best regards,
Katie