Thursday, January 31, 2013

How One Conversation Changes Everything

So I'm going to rewind a few months so you guys understand how this all came about. 

Oct 2012- I was offered a position at a hospital that I was really excited about. Part of the criteria to start said position was to have a pre-employment physical done.  So off I go to this doctor who I had never met to get my physical done.  There I am in the boring white walled exam room when this older doctor walks in, takes one look at me and says " have you ever had a history of thyroid problems?". I told him no and silently wondered what type of "quake" I had been sent to, after all my thyroid was fine.  At the end of the exam he once again questioned my history and my thyroid and then suggested that I get my PCP to check it out b/c my neck looked and felt a little "full".   As I left I went ahead and called my mom, she has a inactive thyroid, so I guess it could be genetic and she said that she was around my age when she got diagnosed. Ok I think, I'll go to my PCP.

Fast forward 2 weeks later. There I am at my PCP's office. I like my doctor, she is quirky but she knows her stuff. She comes in does an exam and agrees that something is up with my thyroid. So she says she is sending me to get my thyroid level drawn and a thyroid ultrasound just to be on the safe side. I once again leave thinking "huh??"

Fast forward again another few weeks. I am at work and luckily where I have to get my ultrasound is right next door so on my lunch break I ran next door to get it done.  Now the only ultrasound I've ever had done was for my pregnancy, let me just tell you that having someone push that ultrasound prob on your throat is quite uncomfortable. So there the tech and I are making small talk. I tell her I'm only my lunch break and we have to hurry, which she says won't be a problem these are normally super fast. Then I start hearing this -"humm, interesting, ohhh, interesting, wow!, interesting" . I finally cut her off with a WTF and she says that she can't technically tell me what she is seeing b/c a doctor is suppose to. I explained to her that I'm a nurse and I don't have time for her to be ohhing and ahhing my neck without giving me a reason why. So she caved and said " Well your left side of your thyroid is bigger then your right, and your entire thyroid is covered in nodules.   NODULES!!!! You don't ever, ever, ever say nodules to an oncology nurse!  She tells me its probably nothing but will need to wait for my MD to give me any more info. 

So I leave there and wonder what is going on in my neck. NODULES! To me nodules are never good. But thanks to google ( yes I know I know don't google) and the help of a endocrinologist I work with I convince myself that its nothing. Probably just hypothyroidism and I will need medicine to help.

After 3 days of hearing nothing from my PCP I call the office and I'm told that she is referring me to an endocrinologist. Ok that's fine. I'm sure this will be the doc to prescribe me my medicine for my stupid thyroid.

 I call to make my appointment and I'm told I will have to wait 2 months to be seen. 2 FREAKING MONTHS!  Fine whatever I'm fine so its not biggie, right?

Well that appointment was yesterday. So I had 2 months to convince myself that I'm fine.  I had my mom come along to help wrangle Ethan while I'm talking to the doctor.

 This very nice doctor comes in and introduces herself and Dr. Magoon then asks what brings me in to see her. So I repeat my whole story to her. She says ok lets figure out whats going on and asks her nurse to get a copy of my lab reports while she pulls up my ultrasound. As she is looking at it she starts making small talk. "How old is your son", "what do you do for a living". When I said I'm an oncology nurse she stopped dead in her tracks, turns to me and says " Well this is going to be an interesting conversation then"

She goes on to show me my ultrasound and points out these huge ( ok they are a lot bigger on the screen then they really are) nodules. I can tell she is nervous to tell me whats going on, so when the words came out of her mouth my heart stopped and all I could do was look at my mom as she started to cry. " It could be cancer"

She told me these nodules could be the same life threatening disease that I go to work every day trying to fight. Talk about karma right?  She continued to tell me that she can't be sure either way by looking at the ultrasound and that there is still a higher probability that the nodules are benign vs malignant ( non-cancerous vs cancer). So the odds are in my favor. 

Now the part of the converstation that is how do we know. I have two choices. I can go in and have each nodule biopsied in several places and hope that they get enough tissue to make sure there isn't anything to worry about. However there is a 20% chance that even with the biopsy they could miss a piece of the tissue that is malignant. Or I can go in and have my thyroid removed. 

At this point I lost it and started to cry. I shouldn't be making this decision right now. I'm 27 years old. I don't need to worry about things like cancer, and major life changing surgery.
  After I got myself composed I told her we are "taking the whole damn thing out" and she tells me that's the best option in her mind.  By taking my whole thyroid they will be able to check the entire thing for cancer and I will know with 100% certainty if I need to worry vs having a 20% chance that they missed something with just a biopsy.  She goes on to tell me she will pass my case to a surgeon who is excellent at this surgery and I should hear from him in the next couple of days. 

Hopefully by next week I'll have my pre-op appointment and sometime in the coming weeks have my thyroid removed.

So what does this mean if it is cancer? I don't know. All I know is I'm no going to let one conversation ruin my life, even if it did change it forever.


  1. Wow Shannon. I am so sorry. I will hope and pray that your surgery goes well, and that the nodules are malignant. You have such a great attitude and I'm sure your patients love that about you.

  2. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I'm hoping that there is no cancer involved!


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