After Thyroid Cancer Surgery

It has been 12 days since my thyroid and lymph node cancer surgery, and the recovery has been slow.  Thanks to my friend, Amy, who has posted a few updates, most of you know the basic details, and I am really exhausted tonight to write a lot. 

The best news by far was the cancer had not spread into my lymph nodes as much as my surgeon, Dr. S., had thought.  During the surgery he had sent for some of the pathology reports, and none of the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck were showing cancer.

This basically saved the right side of my neck from having to be dissected.  The left side of my neck had more cancer in the lymph nodes and he did have to do the dissection, but he was able to save more nerves than he had thought as well.  I have complete feeling on the right side of my neck, but as Dr. S., warned me prior to surgery, my left side of my neck from my earlobe to my collarbone is numb. 

I was recovering really well in the hospital, but after I got out of ICU, I ran into some problems with my medications, that  am still trying to bounce back from. 

I saw Dr. S., on Friday for him to take out some stitches and he had my full pathology report.  He removed 66 lymph nodes and my thyroid.  My thyroid was positive for cancer but out of those lymph nodes, only 7 had cancer.  It seems almost like  a miracle, and I am so happy at that good news.  

Dr. S., credited my nurse practitioner with early detection for my case not being as critical as originally thought.  As you can imagine, I am going to write a lot more about this in the future.  But start now at your annual exams having your health care provider check for any abnormalities in your thyroid and get it checked as soon as you can.

I am fighting through some pain in my shoulders, and I had the boys for a few days, before their dad has them for some vacation time.  My family and friends have been nothing less than wonderful, and I am so lucky to have so many people that have taken such excellent care of me.  I will never be able to repay them- but their loving gifts of time and help are precious to me. 

Now a lot of it is up to me.  I am going to start walking more every day (per doctor’s orders) and try to eat more, even though I do not feel like it.  I am going to rest more and and not push myself like I usually do.

Dr. S., told me sometimes a drain has to stay in for up to two weeks to catch the fluid, but I had the last of my four drains out the night before  I left the hospital.  He also said I was somewhat of a medical miracle in that my calcium levels barely dropped at all, once my thyroid was out.  It is very common for the calcium to take huge drops.  If the calcium drops too low, you can go into cardiac arrest.  Dr. S., said he had never had a patient whose calcium hardly dropped at all like mine did. 

This has been a very hard, painful cancer, and surgery to cope with, but as I hope to document, the recovery is coming along well, and I feel very optimistic.  This will be a life-long issue for me from this point.  My life will never be quite the same, but I have been cancer free now for 12 days,  there is no more cancer in my body, so this is a new start for my family, friends, and I.  

The picture below is a picture of me on June 12th, just after my surgery.  I am sharing it to show that thyroid cancer is still cancer- it shouldn’t be ignored.  It is a big deal. 

The next pictures  I share on my blog of me post-surgery will be much better.  Cancer can be beaten, but insist your provider checks your thyroid at your exams, and hopefully you will never have to have a picture of yourself like I do after a thyroidectomy.     

I will continue to keep you all updated, and once again thanks for the prayers and well wishes. I am not a huge “God” person, but I know He has looked out for me, and has taken care of me through this experience.  All the prayers, healing energy, and positive thoughts, have helped-and I thank you again for all of these you have sent to me.  

 I read before my surgery that cancer is a word-not a sentence, and it was all of you who helped me remember that.  I love you all. 

surgery-june-12-09  Thyroidectomy & lymph node surgery removal June 12, 2009

Comments

  1. thank you for the update i have been praying!!!

  2. I’m so grateful that it hadn’t spread as much as thought!! I’m praying you have a very speedy recovery!

  3. i’m sorry i didn’t get a chance to write more updates.
    thank you for sharing all of this with us. i hope you continue to make a little progress every day. keep at it, h. you are doing great. :)

  4. Hello, I too just had the sugery for thyroid cancer. I live in CA. My scar is only 3 inches. I was wondering, yours looks longer & wanted to know why? They also removed cancerous lymph nodes in my surgery. I hope you too are feeling better.

    Thank you, Linda

  5. A Mama's Blog says:

    Hi Linda,

    I had some really enlarged lymph nodes up past my ear- so that is why my scar is longer. My surgeon had to cut more of my neck to get those out. He told me originally I would have a U shaped incision. It turned out that only the enlarged lymph nodes on my left side had cancer, so he didn’t have to take so many on the right side. I had a lymph node that was almost 4 cm under my right ear, and he was able to get it out without cutting my neck to get to it. So I am very grateful for that- turns out it was not cancerous. Very rare for a lymph node to be that enlarged with no cancer.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  6. Hello. Im happy to hear you are doing so well. I am 6 days post-op, total thyroidectomy due to papillary cancer. I was wondering how you are feeling now two months out and how your scar is healing. I am exhausted all the time and still very sore. I also have started gaining weight (5 lbs in 6 days !).

    Also, have you had the iodine radiation? If so, how was that? I see the Dr. next week and dont know if I will need that yet.

    Sorry for all the questions, dont mean to sound like a firing squad – just sitting here still nervous and wondering what to expect next !

    Thanks and wishing you a safe and speedy recovery.

  7. A Mama's Blog says:

    Hi Grace,

    I am feeling so much better, energy wise, just one week being on synthroid. I am still having a few memory issues because I was so hypothyroid. The doctors told me it could take weeks for everything to be “back to normal,” but I am so happy I don’t feel 100 years old anymore.

    My scar is healing very well. I will be posting some updated pictures soon. I have been keeping it covered when out in the sun, per my doctor’s suggestion- he said scars are very prone to burning, and I have a fair complexion too.

    I was barely eating anything and I gained 5 pounds. I am not sure when the switch started, but I weighed myself today and I have now lost 10 lbs- I weigh less now than I did before I had kids! I think my body is still adjusting and I would like to gain some weight back.

    I had the radioactive iodine last week. It went OK, but I notice one of my salivary glands is still sore. That is an expected side affect. I never got nauseous, nor got a metallic taste in my mouth. The hardest part was not being able to see my boys for 7 days. I have the body scan on Friday to see how much thyroid tissue is left in my body.

    Take care, and keep me posted on your progress.

  8. Hi Heather –

    Thanks for your quick reply. That energy must be returning – Im so happy for you! I cant wait to get there myself. I sleep 10-12 hrs a day and find that I am still exhausted after being up for 2 hours.

    I cry for my old life (I say old even though it was only a week ago, but it feels like years). Im a 38 year old mom of three girls with a full time job. I used to get up a 6AM and not hit the pillow again till 11PM. Now I feel like a blob in bed that sighs at the thought of taking a shower and making a sandwich. Like you, I feel incredibly guilty. The girls just look at me in confusion. They cant possibly understand the level of exhaustion I am feeling – I dont think anyone possibly can unless they have gone through this themselves.

    Your updates give me much hope and encouragement. I cant wait to start feeling like my old self again. I was on synthroid for a year for hypothyroidism before the cancer appeared. It was a wonder drug and I want it back !! I came home from the hospital with cytomel – I cant imagine not having any thyroid replacement !! I agree with your friend, it is negligence what they have put you through.
    By the way my surgeon is a Dr. S also(traveled to Orlando for him). Wonder if its the same surgeon you had?

    I will keep you updated after I see the Dr. next week for follow up. Thrilled to hear that the radiation went well for you(except of course for missing your boys). Please keep blogging – you are an inspiration.

    Grace

  9. HELLO. I ALSO HAD THYROID CANCER. MY ENTIRE THYROID AND TEN LYMPTH NODES HAD CANCER. I HAD IODINE RADIATION WHICH REALLY MADE ME SICK. I LOST 12 POUNDS AND WAS WEAKER THAN WEAK. I HAVE DRY MOUTH,LOST MY PERIOD AND THAT HAS NOT COME BACK MY JAW CRACKS AND NOW I AM GOING FOR SURGERY FOR BLOCKED EYE DUCTS WHICH THEY TELL ME IS FROM RADIATION.MY EYES DRIP AND DRIP AND FEEL UP WITH PUSS AND BACTERIAL INFECTIONS. I FEEL BLESSED NOT TO HAVE HAD A DEATH SENTENCE BUT I DO NOT FEEL THE SAME ANYMORE. I AM DIFFERENT. I CANT SLEEP I AM DEPRESSED AND NOW ON EFFEXOR AND JUST DIFFERENT. BESIDES RADIATION THROWING ME INTO PREMATURE MENAPAUSE IT GAVE ME SOME PROBLEMS.I DEAL WITH IT BUT ITS FRUSTRATING. I HOPE YOU FEEL BETTER AND ITS GOOD TO HAVE SUPPORT… STAY WELL.. PAULA IN NY I HAD SURGERY DEC 2007 ,RADIATION JAN,2008 AND A LITTLE MORE IN APRIL 2009……

  10. My sister in law will be having a thyroidectomy and at this point we don’t know what else she will have to undergo. I was wondering what/how the best way is to help her- what she will need after the surgery. How long will she have to stay in hospital and afterward what she might need? She and her son both have Muscular Distrophy so she has a hard time exercising and my nephew needs a lot of care. I live overseas but am willing to go back to Canada to help her for the period of time she might need me – any suggestions or comments would be hugely appreciated.

  11. A Mama's Blog says:

    Hi Barbara,

    How nice of you to offer your support for your sister in law! Some of the suggestions I have are, if she ends up with only having a thyroidectomy, she will probably be in the hospital from 24-48 hours. If she ends up having any lymph nodes removed, she could be in the hospital 1-4 days.

    One thing that my family did for me, which I loved, but would never have asked, was they made sure someone stayed overnight with me each night I was in the hospital. My sisters and sister-in-law took turns. Since I had a neck dissection, I was in the hospital for 5 nights. It was very helpful to have someone call the nurse for me, or get me some water, help me find a comfortable position to sleep, make sure I was getting the pain medication on time, etc., and just having a familiar person around made the experience less traumatic.

    Afterwards, I did not have any problem eating food that I normally do. I think it would be very helpful when she comes home, if some meals could be prepared ahead of time for her- then either she or someone else could just reheat the food.

    One other issue I ran into was showering right after the surgery while in the hospital. Because of the extent of my surgery, it was hard for me to reach things, and my balance was a bit off. One of my sisters stayed outside of the shower stall and if I needed help, she was there. She just thought of this on her own; I probably would have never have asked, so perhaps you could offer your assistance to her in this way.

    I hope that helps- good luck to her, and please let me know how her surgery goes.

    Heather

  12. Did you have radiation treatment? My daughter has the same thing and now must have radiation pills. Not long term but, just a couple of days but its frightening.

  13. A Mama's Blog says:

    Denise,

    I had radioactive iodine treatment. It was only one dose, or one pill. I took it at the hospital and then went home and had to stay out of the general population for 4 days.

    The hardest part was not seeing my kids for 7 days. I had some slight nausea 8 hours after I took the dose- I felt car sick. My neck was swollen & tender though for 2 days- that is a common side effect. Advil helped.

    Good luck to your daughter.

  14. Can I ask if RAI is really necessary even if the nodule is just less than 1 cm?..I’ll undergo the same by next month and I’m afraid if I’ll get overdose by it, or is there any such thing?

    Thanks

  15. A Mama's Blog says:

    Lizamae, I would say yes, RAI is necessary. How it was explained to me was, by the time a nodule is 1 cm, or more, or even slightly below that, there are other cancer cells in your body that are microscopic. They won’t be able to detect them until they are over 1 cm. The RAI will kill off any of these microscopic cells.

    That being said, I would think the dosage they give you should be low. I had lymph nodes that were 3 and 4 cm, and I received 100 mcg of RAI. I was able to stay at home, out of the population for 3 days, and not around my kids for 7 days. I was a little surprised to read you were going to have to be in the hospital for 4 days. That seems to indicate you will be receiving a very large dosage of RAI.

    If nothing else, you might want a second opinion, or ask them if you can stay at home. Ask them to clarify exactly why they think you need to receive the treatment in the hospital. Find out what kind of dosage of RAI they are thinking you are going to have. At my consultation they said between 75 and 100mcg.’s. Once my labs came back, that is when they decided on the 100 mcg’s.

    Let me know what you find out.

  16. Hi…
    I have been diaognosed with papillary carcinoma of thyroid last week.. and will get my thyroid removed next week. waiting for my VISA to bankok. as i will have my operation there. i am frm bangladesh and te medical system is worst here…. i m 29. divorced. and ur blog really helped me to prepare my self for the next journey of my life. thanks dear

    URMi

  17. Hello,
    just got the call from the doctor I have cancer of the thyroid. I didn’t know there were different types. So I don’t know which one I have yet. i have an appointment with my surgeon on Monday. I will know then what type. I know i will have to have surgery and scared about that. My lump is 2cm and I think they will be taking more than the said out at the first meeting. I’m a caretaker for my parents, uncle, and parents in law. I don’t know if I could be out that long without caring for them. How long did it take for any of you to begin doing thing on your own? Does you neck feel different-like it is missing something? I heard that when you have something out your body feels like it is missing something.
    How many days were you in pain-that you could not swallow or eat? I’m trying to get as much info on the recovery before having it done. I need to arrange for someone to take care of my illing parents,parents-in-law and uncle while I’m recovering. Thank you for all you imput. It is nice knowing what others went through.
    Thanks for putting in the blog!!!
    Lisa

  18. heather d. says:

    man…. it helps to read this. I was diagnosed about two weeks ago with papillary thyroid cancer and today just found out it has spread to the lymph nodes… i’m nervous but also eager to get on with it and over it. For the past few years i have been telling close friends and family something is wrong but had no proof or idea what… now i feel a relief knowing… it’s been found. After the cancer was out did you feel a difference in you energy levels and moods? i was depressed more often prior and i would get force myself to get moving but i used to have soo much energy i’d wear people out. Now i feel sad i lost that. Will it come back i wonder? I miss how i used to be more a part of life.

  19. I had this surgery about three weeks ago. I also am numb from my ear to my collarbone. How long before feeling comes back?

  20. hi,im 37 yers old and a month AND A HALF A GO I HAD MY THYROID TOGETHER WITH TUMOR JAGULAR V=VEINS AND LYMPH NODES REMOVE I WOULDSAY MY CUT WAS PRETTY BIG AND ABOUT 50 STICHES,FOR THOSE WHO WORRY IF YOU HAVE PAPILLARY CARSINOMA CANCER IN THYROID AND YOU COUGHT IT ON TIME THINGS ARE GONNA CHANGE BUT PAPILLARY CANCER IS ONE OF THE MOST CURABLES CANCER OUT THERE,WITH SERGURY AND RAI HOPEFULLY YOU WILL BE GOOD TO GO.THERE WILL BE CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE BUT YOU WILL BE CANCER FREE AND THAT IS A BLESS I KNOW IS HARD BUT NOTHING IS EASY IN LIFE.I HAVE BEEN OFF THYROID MED BECAUSE IM ABOUT TO TAKE MY RAI PILL ON JANUARY AND TO BE HONEST I CANT WAIT FOR THIS TO BE OVER.CANCER IS REAL AND KILLS I FEEL LIKE I WAS GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE IN LIFE, LOVE YOUR FAMILY CARE FOR OTHERS ANDTHANK GOD FOR THE BLESSINGS.THIS HAVE BEEN A BIG CHANGE IN MY LIFE FOR THE BETTER THINK POSITIVE DONTLET YOUR MIND RUN YOU DOWN.I KNOW THAT CANCER IS NO JOKE AND NOONE WILL LIKE TO HAVE IT,THERE ARE THOUSAND OTHER PEOPLE OUT THERE WITH CANCER SOMEWHERE ELSE THAT WILL NOT MAKE IT AND THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE WE SURE PRAY FOR AND BE HAPPY WE GOT ANOTHER CHANCE IN LIFE.

  21. GOD BLESS MOFFIT HOSPITAL IN TAMPA FLORIDA.

  22. Hi this is a really great post

  23. Thyroid cancer is a thyroid neoplasm that is malignant. It can be treated with radioactive iodine or surgical resection of the thyroid gland. Most often the first symptom of thyroid cancer is a nodule in the thyroid region of the neck. After a thyroid nodule is found during a physical examination, a referral to an endocrinologist, a thyroidologist or otolaryngologist may occur. Most commonly an ultrasound is performed to confirm the presence of a nodule, and assess the status of the whole gland. Measurement of thyroid stimulating hormone and anti-thyroid antibodies will help decide if there is a functional thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis present, a known cause of a benign nodular goiter. There are three types of thyroid Plastische Chirurgie to treat thyroid cancer, Thyroid lobectomy, Near-total thyroidectomy and Total thyroidectomy.

  24. sussy is gonna be a while but most of the tima your nerves take a long time to start to get better do movement with your neck keep active..

  25. Hi. I’m turning 30 on May 22nd, and 2 days ago (April 25th) I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. Everyone is saying its the best cancer to have, its no big deal, etc. I don’t really know how I feel yet. As of now its all I think about but I haven’t cried since the 10 minutes of crying when the Dr told me. I just want to tell you that your blog has been the most informative site I have found online and I’m very glad I stumbled upon it.

  26. I thanked all the people who leaves their comment on this site. It is of somehow a great help for me to keep going…

    Hi dawn, you and i have the same significant dates in our lives. By the way I am yvette and just turned 29 last may 22 also. We have the same birthdate. And just last month i was diagnosed as well that my nodule was cancerous. Actually, at first, my doctor and i thought only it was a nodule on my right neck, but he told me that i had to go for surgery and had it removed because it was already big and it is growing. So i went for a surgery last april 23 and had my nodule on my right neck removed. So i thought that was it. My surgery went well and my post surgery was really coping great. Until 2nd week of my recovery period, my doctor called me and told me that the nodule that was taken out was cancerous. When i heard it, i was really shocked, cant say a word and was mentally blocked. So my doctor sent me for another surgery last may 14 to have my left thyroid removed.

    Its been almost 2wks now since my surgery and im on a sythroid pill right now and calcium pill as well. Up to now, almost everyday i am struggling for some tingling feeling and worst is muscle cramps and spasms, i dont really feel like comfortable especially when it strikes. Does anybody from you knows how much calcium pill should i be taking in a day? And how long am going to have these feeling? There were days that it really scares me when i had these muscle cramps and muscle spasms feeling coz i can feel like i cant move. I do really hope and pray that these are just only side effects of the surgery and hopefully on the coming days all these will be gone.

    Next week i will have some blood works done to see my thyroid level and I will see my doctor as well. I hope and pray to receive good news.

    I am looking forward to hear from you guys your stories to encourage me more… I cant really wait to get my life back. God please help me.

    Love, yvette

  27. Hi ! I have beren reading your postings with much iontrest as I am having my thyroid taken out on Tues (July 17th). I am so nervous even though I have had surgery before, the thought of having my neck sliced open isn’t very appealing. I am worried about the insion being so noticeable. How long did it take before it started to get smaller and fade? Do you get really tired right after the surgery until the thyroid replacement is adjusted to the correct dosage? How long did it take people to get to that level? I have lots of questions, if someone would please respond, ASAP! Thanks.

  28. Hi all, reading all the above post seems like I am not alone. I am 41 year old female and 13 days ago had total thyrodimy plus 19 nodules were taken out. Both side of thyroid had some cancer and 2 nodules were cancerous as well. The operation went for 3.5 hours. I was in the ICU After the surgery as I had some chest pains. But I was moved to the ward the next afternoon as the dOctor was happy with my prOgress. In the ICU after the operation I remember when I went to the toilet I threw up and it was all green color. I felt much better after that. My surgery was at 1 pm and I did not eat anything since dinner but had water around 4 am. Anyway, I was not in much pain as I stooped taking the pain killer on the 3rd day. Dr advised me to walk as he said I might get blood clots. I was also asked to wear compression socks for 6 weeks. I started walking on the 4th day. I was feeling bit better each day and on the 5 th day I asked my dr that I wanted to go home as it was my bday! He said the calcium level was still lOw but he was happy to discharge me. I was taking 6 Hourly calcium tablets along with Vutamin d tablets. Today is the 13th day after surgery. My dr removed the sterriatrips yesterday and In the night I was getting burning feeling on my throat and some discOmft swallowing which I never experienced so far! So had couple of Panadols and went to sleep. Today the throat it’s much better but still have some pain and a sharp pain inside my throat just above the cut, when I swallow . I suppose my nerves which were numb are getting the feeling bsck! My neck above my cut is still numb. I had a long cut from 1 side of the neck to the other side. I was asked nOt to cover the area or apply anything . I have not yet taken a shower scared the cut might get irritated with shampoo etc. I feel a bit difficult swallowing today. Just got to hold my chest and pull the skin up when I swallow. I have not driven as well. My neck is still stiff but no pain. I have taken 4 weeks off work to recover as I dont want to strain my self. The dr said I will have to do RAI but the endocologist who does is going to retire and I have to travel interstate. Which i dOnt want to. So just going to surf on net how soon should a RAI need to be done. Anyone knows the answe to this? If it is not done for 1 year will anything happen to me? Sounds like a silly question but I really don’t want to go thru RAI and be in isolation. I hope to get back into normal routine of life ASAP. The recovery is just long and frustrating! I have had no symptoms or family history of paparilla cancer and it was caught by accident from a routine blood test. I was kind of lucky. But Just wondering if I did not do it what would have happened to me? As I hear this cancer is the best cancer to get! Anyway I hope those reading this and suffering pain or going for an operation I wish you all a speedy recOVery and you all get back to normal life style:)

  29. I just want to thank you, all of you, for this blog. I am having a needle biopsy on Friday, and well, freaking out that it could cancer. One nodule is over 4 cm, hypervascular and hypoechoic. The other is the same, but smaller. Before reading this blog, I was terrified, and now I am still scared but hopeful. Thank you for sharing your stories!

  30. It is late and I am going to bed, but I read your experiences and I wanted to say hello. We have somethings in common, I had the same surgery with thyroid cancer and my doctor removed all of my lymph nodes in my neck,about 50 of which 26 were cancerous. At the same time I found out about my diagosis, my boyfriend of 10 years moved out of the house. I had tons of support from my children, but I still missed him terribly with a blend of being very sad and upset with him. I also run every day. I hope I hear from you so I can share more of my experiences. My very best, Meriam

  31. Hi girl just wana say I had same issues as u d and c and they r both hard I’m asian so it’s harder hope ur ok write back if u can . God bless u x

Trackbacks

  1. [...] have posted pictures of my surgery scars, including some right after the surgery, in previous blog posts, so I am not going to post those again in this post.  But you can click on [...]

  2. [...] all of the lymph nodes in my neck, because I had cancer. (You can read more about the surgery here, After Thyroid Cancer Surgery. I have posted some other pictures at the end of this post, I thought may be helpful to others who [...]

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