Scott s thyroid gland and two of the closest lymph nodes. At her follow-up visit a few days later, Dr. Peters had bad news: She had thyroid cancer, and it had metastasized to her lymph nodes.
I was really shocked because I didn t know a lot about thyroid cancer I wasn t really sure what the diagnosis or the progno- sis was, Mrs. Scott says. I have no family history of cancer and no family history of thyroid problems. I never would ve thought about it. Thyroid cancer is not something you hear people talk about. Even as a nurse, it wasn t something that crossed my mind.
A week after the first surgery, Dr. Peters performed another surgery to remove the remaining half of Mrs. Scott s thyroid. Her tumor, he found, was fairly substantial approximately five centimeters. I hadn t noticed it, but somebody standing in front of me looking at my neck could see it, she says.
After surgery, Mrs. Scott promptly began follow-up treatment with radioactive iodine therapy. It meant a strict, iodine-free diet for six weeks, followed by a dose of radioac- tive iodine in pill form. She would have to be admitted to the hospital for several days while the iodine worked its way through her system. Few side effects are associated with radioactive iodine therapy it was the prepa- ration and precautions that Mrs. Scott found the most onerous.
You can t have any iodine-containing products, so no salt, no processed foods, no dairy, no potatoes and only a little bit of meat, she says. Then, because you re radio- active, you have to be in the hospital for sev- eral days to be away from people. That was hard because I couldn t be around my kids, since it s most dangerous for young children.
Mrs. Scott responded well to the treat- ments, and Dr. Peters found that the cancer
had not metastasized beyond her lymph nodes. Now, periodic follow-up scans consis- tently show good news so far, she remains cancer-free. A NEW PERSON
As with so many other cancer patients, Mrs. Scott s life has changed since her diag- nosis. For one thing, she no longer has a thy- roid. Because the thyroid gland is responsible for making hormones that regulate how the body uses energy, Mrs. Scott must now take a hormone replacement pill for the rest of her life. I go in for follow-up lab work just to make sure I m maintaining the level where I need to be. For someone who has had thyroid cancer, the levels actually need to be a little bit on the high end just to suppress more can- cer cells from growing, she says. I ll be on that forever, so I take one pill every morning, and that s going to be the story from now on.
Since her treatment, Mrs. Scott also has completely changed her diet. She has stopped eating processed foods so if it does not come out of the ground or from an animal, she s not eating it, she says. She also has
8 U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R
ABOUT BREAST CANCER,
BUT THYROID CANCER IS ONE THAT S NOT TALKED
ABOUT, AND IT SEEMS
TO AFFECT A LOT OF
WOMEN IN THEIR 20s