I guess there's no point in beating around the bush here. I have thyroid cancer.
As cancers go, thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable sorts, and my life does not appear to be in any serious danger, although it's expected that I'm going to be on medication for the rest of my life. I'm working on setting up an appointment with an endocrinologist at the hospital so I can work out the full details of my treatment, such as when surgery will take place, and whether I get to keep my thyroid in a jar for the kids to take to show-and-tell.
I first learned that I have a lump on my thyroid Oct. 4, when I went to the doctor's office for help kicking a cold that had had me down for over a week. Thyroid nodules are fairly common. About 30 percent of adults get them, and usually they are benign. Only 5 percent are considered malignant and require any action beyond monitoring the nodule for any changes. (As is typical for my luck, I once again have beaten the odds. The way I beat the odds is exactly why I like to keep away from the roulette table.)
An ultrasound taken on my throat on Oct.10 revealed that the nodule was a solid mass, and not a cyst; a biopsy taken last Friday determined that the cells unequivocally are cancerous.
Where I go from here is setting up that appointment. My understanding is that the cancer was caught early on, but I'm going to seek assurances that it hasn't spread any to other parts of my body. From what I've read and what's been explained to me when I've asked questions, the next step is going to involve killing the thyroid with radioactive iodine and then having it surgically removed. Once that's done, I'll be taking thyroxin for the rest of my life. Among other things, thyroxin helps the body to regulate its metabolism, and helps set the body's thermostat. I'm not sure what lifestyle changes this operation is going to require. It's quite likely I'll never pitch another game in the World Series.
Obviously, I'm a little rattled by this, but I'm not too worried. I've been laughing with friends and my older brother about the situation, and looking at the bright side. If you're the praying sort, I appreciate prayers for my family, who surely are having to adjust to the specter of cancer. If you're not the praying sort, please feel free to send large quantities of cash to assuage any guilt feelings you have over not being able to help. (See? I told you there were good things about having cancer!)
Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to check yourself for any strange lumps.