This morning I had my last appointment with my endocrinologist. I was diagnosed with papillary cancer in August of 1994. I was 20 years old at the time. Everything after the initial diagnosis happened pretty quickly, and at the end of that month, I had my thyroid removed.
Actually, they weren't even 100 percent sure that the tumor was cancerous. I had to keep going back for visits and tests and every time I was in to see the doctor they told me, "There's about a 2 percent chance of this being anything to worry about." Figures I'd beat the odds that way. I had to have my biopsy done (a hollow needle was stuck in my neck) in a tiny room full of med students (the University of Minnesota hospital is a teaching hospital, after all!). There was even a possibility that the tumor wasn't cancerous, but they couldn't be sure until they'd removed the right side of my thyroid and tested it during surgery. Turned out it was, so they whipped out the rest of it and some lymph nodes, just to be on the safe side. I had one treatment with radioactive iodine a couple of months later to make sure everything was removed.
Knowing what so many other people have gone through with their cancer (including, most recently, Whatshisfuckingface and his throat cancer), I find it hard to really think of my papillary cancer as real cancer. But it was real and I had a scare about a year ago because my doctor in Mankato refused to give me a month's worth of drugs to get me through until I could be seen by my endocrinologist. My thyroid started to regenerate. Thankfully it was on the left (noncancerous side) side, and after being properly medicated, it shrunk.
My time in Mankato produced several setbacks on my road to being cured, unfortunately. It was tough enough living there, but the things I went through when they screwed up my medication levels were horrible. Everything worked out, though. And now, I no longer have to see my endocrinologist. I can have it checked out when I go in for my gynecological exam in the fall every year (which is, incidentally, how the tumor was found). I'll be on thyroid replacement hormone forever, but that was a possibility anyway. But for now, I can kind of feel like a normal person again.