Let me just say this now, I am in no way down playing breast cancer. I have friends and family members who are breast cancer survivors and I am thankful every day that they are still here. I understand the magnitude of breast cancer and I can grasp the concept of just how much it can take from a woman. It’s freakin’ breast cancer, not the flu. So, again, I am not saying attention shouldn’t be paid to breast cancer, its survivors, and its fallen heroes.


I just wonder if we are forgetting about the other cancers.


I don’t normally broadcast this fact. There is no way to slip it into a conversation. One can’t just walk up to someone and be like “Hey, my name is Michelle. I had thyroid cancer. Say “hi” to your mother for me, okay?”


But the truth is, I did have thyroid cancer. Sure, I might have gotten rid of the cancer cells, but everyday is a struggle and a constant reminder that my battle isn’t really over yet. I think anyone who has battled cancer will always live with the fact that the battle isn’t over. We all have to constantly get our blood checked. We all need to get checked every year to make sure cancer hasn’t come back in to say “hi.”


I guess in a way I was really naïve. I thought that after the two surgeries, I would be done with cancer. It would be just another thing I could cross off my list. Sure, I was told I had to go through nuclear medicine to ensure that all the cancer cells were destroyed, but then after that, I really just thought I would be able to just move on.


Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.


The thyroid, while it may be just a small little butterfly gland in your neck, affects EVERYTHING in your body. Because it produces hormones in your body, it messes with a lot of the basic functions of the body. Weight gain, depression, fatigue, and even the beating of your heart are just a few examples of places that the thyroid has influences over. Also, the thyroid is so sensitive and specific that it takes a long time to get your body adjusted to the medication. It is a constant adjusting and readjusting of medication.


So when they told me I had thyroid cancer, I had no idea what that really meant. I just thought I had a lump in my throat and I was just naturally super thin and super crazy. However, it wasn’t that simple; it was cancer.


My doctor told me that thyroid cancer was the easiest cancer to treat. He was right, but he just forgot to add that it has the slowest recovery time.


Although it has been six years, I feel like I have yet to recover from the removal of my thyroid. The medicine I am to take for the rest of my life takes six weeks to regulate in a body. I don’t think I am on the right dosage and I don’t think I have ever been on the right dosage. Even though my doctor swears my thyroid is fine and sometimes a bit high, I still have all the side effects of someone suffering from hypothyroidism. I am constantly tired. I get these migraines that make me want to rip off my head. I gain weight. I am so thirsty all the time that I want to walk around with an IV filled with water. Oh and then there is the depression.


When I ask if we focus too much on breast cancer, I guess what I am really asking is did we forget that there are other cancers out there that could use some funding and attention? I would love it if my doctors could really understand how having thyroid cancer has destroyed my body and my mind. Six years is a long time to not feel “normal.”


I used to think that thyroid cancer was just a joke. The doctors told me it was an easy cancer, so I was totally okay with that interpretation. Six years later and I am learning it isn’t easy at all. Just like all cancer survivors, I will carry the effects with me forever.


Why do we focus so much on breast cancer? There are other cancers out there that are just as difficult to deal with. Why don’t we hear more about those other cancers? Will it take a well-loved celebrity to either die or battle thyroid cancer before we take notice? Was the death of Thurgood Marshall not enough?


I don’t think we should just abandon breast cancer, but how about we share the wealth a bit?