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    Posted June 11, 2014 by
    Baltimore, Maryland
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Living with a chronic illness

    Years of Being Told Everything is "Normal"

    For about 7 years I have had fatigue, hair loss, over 75lbs in weight gain and multiple other sypmtoms. I was always told by multiple doctors that I was fine, just start eating healthy and exercise. They made me feel like all my symptoms were in my head and that I was just lazy and fat.

    In November 2013 I decided to try out a new doctor. When I went in for my new patient physical she asked for my family history. I told her there was history of thyroid disorder on both side of my family. She asked if I was ever diagnosed. 7 years ago my previous doctor said I was hypothyroid and had me on medicine. But when my levels came back normal a few months later he told me to stop the medication. That was always weird to me and though he kept telling me for years my levels were still normal, I felt absolutely horrible.

    At my new patient appointment my new doctor listened to everything I said, I could tell she truly cared and was concerned. She asked person to "check my neck". I asked her what exactly she was going to do because I never had anyone do it before. She assured me she was just going to feel my neck and see if she could feel my thyroid gland. My new doctor was extremely surprised that my previous doctor never checked my neck. She wound up finding a nodule on my thyroid and sent me immediately for an ultrasound where they discovered two nodules.

    The weeks that followed were kind of a blur. I was assured that 95% of people have benign nodules. Well mine came back as suspicious so they scheduled surgery for February 2014. I had a total thyroidectomy.

    Two days after surgery I went to my surgical oncologist to have my stitches removed and I was told that I had Papillary Thyroid Cancer that had spread to the surrounding lymphnodes. As we talked I went over my symptoms with him again. He informed me that everything I was going through was related to the cancer, that it had been there for years. The fact that the levels they take to test your thyroid came back normal due to the cancer; my two children being born prematurely was due to the cancer; that all my symptoms that no one would listen to because the blood work was where is was supposed to be was all due to the cancer.

    Right before Easter 2014 I went through a Radioactive Iodine treatment where I was quarantined inside my house with out my children for a week.

    The hardest part throughout this whole thing was I new something was not right, my body has not felt normal in years. Come to think of it I'm not sure what a normal body should feel like any more. I know it's going to take many more years to get to where I need to be but I want everyone to know that even though people can't see it, if you're feeling bad you need to talk to a doctor and keep switching until you find a doctor who will actually listen to you instead of base it on what's supposed to be normal.

    For the rest of my life I will not be fighting this invisible disease and I will struggle every day. The bouts of insomnia, depression and anxiety are horrible and no one understands because "I look fine". Everything inside of my is hurting. My body aches all the time, I can't eat with out getting massive heart burn, my hair falls out non stop and I have almost no energy. For the rest of my life I will be monitored through blood work, ultrasounds and body scans.

    Not many people will understand how I feel, living with an invisible illness makes you feel like you're a little crazy. People look at you weird when you say you don't have the energy or strength to do something and the response is always "You don't look sick". I may not look sick but I'm fighting a huge battle everyday that you will never understand.

    I push myself to the limit every day to try and be a normal mother for my children and a good wife to my husband. But at the end of the day I just cry because everything in me hurts to the max. I'm physically and emotionally drained but the insomnia kicks in and there is no rest. It's vicious cycle that I'm learning to deal with but need people to understand that this invisible illness has taken away the person I used to be. I try to be my normal self but it hurts.

    Awareness needs to be spread so people know that we are not crazy or seeking attention. We are fighting a battle that they will never understand. Those who have been diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer will always fight this battle. And just because we are told "It's the good cancer" it doesn't mean it doesn't beat us down just like any other type of cancer. I know that we don't go through everything that other cancer patients due but Thyroid Cancer needs to stop being belittled and pushed aside. Cancer is cancer no matter what form. It's scary for everyone who gets that diagnosis. Don't tell me that just because my survival rate is high that it's nothing to worry about. I will spend the rest of my life worrying if there is cancer some where else in my body.

    Please be aware and mindful for those of us fighting these invisible illnesses. Not everyone who is sick looks the same. We need your support and understanding in order to start feeling ourselves again.
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