Hola. People ask me on a regular basis about my thyroid removal surgery, and I figured this would be the easiest way to update everyone.
A little background for anyone who may be checking in for the first time. I have a multinodular goiter. Translation…my thyroid is full of nodules and enlarged. Thyroid nodules are actually quite common and are usually no big deal. Unfortunately, I have one that is humongo. Since it’s so big, it has the potential to be or become cancerous. With that being the case, I’ve been having yearly biopsies on this one nodule since 2014 to keep things in check. Removal of my thyroid has been an option for me all along, but I’ve had some very strong feelings about the potential complications (5% chance of voice box paralysis + the potential to mess with my parathyroid, which would lead to an additional lifelong medication to take). Since my thyroid was still functioning, I just didn’t want to remove it and be on lifelong medication, unless it was absolutely necessary. There are a few reasons why, but mainly…I don’t want my hormone levels to be in someone else’s hands, I don’t want to actually take medication everyday (I’m lazy), and for women in particular, taking daily Synthroid for years, can lead to things like osteoporosis, etc. So that’s why I signed up for tracking the nodule instead of completely removing my gland.
My first biopsy came back benign, and NONE of the nodules have grown since we’ve been tracking them. This is a good sign, and I assumed it meant my biopsy for this year would be coming back clean too…however, that didn’t happen. In early January, I unexpectedly found out I was having ANOTHER baby (#irishtwins). It was so beyond unplanned…you can read about that here. Two days after that shock, I got another shock…my biopsy had come back as “suspicious”. They could neither confirm, nor deny cancer. I’ve since learned that when the nodule came back uncertain, they tested my genes. My genes are what came back positive for thyroid cancer, which is why they labeled my biopsy as “suspicious”. Since I have the genetic trait for thyroid cancer, and my nodule is “suspicious”, my endocrinologist recommended complete removal of the gland ASAP.
When I met with him, it was a haze. I was upset and reeling from the phone call, so I didn’t ask many questions. I just remember him really pushing for the surgery while pregnant, and telling me that it would be no big deal for the baby as long as I waited until the second trimester. I also remember him getting snippy with me because I couldn’t process the plan of action he wanted me to take. He went ahead and prescribed my daily lifelong meds, sent me for an ultrasound of my lymph nodes, and referred me to a surgeon (Dr. B).
A few weeks later, I met with the surgeon. I liked him from the start…especially when he told me that I was a busy lady after finding out I was pregnant again (I mean..y’all know how my sense of humor is LOL). His plans seemed to line up with my endocrinologist’s plans. We would remove my thyroid once I was in my second trimester. He wanted to speak with my OB first though. He instructed me to give her an envelope from him, and after they spoke, his surgery coordinator would call me and we would schedule the surgery.
There was a bit of phone tag that ended up happening between them, so a few weeks passed before they were actually able to speak. After they finally got in touch with one another, my OB messaged me on Facebook to let me know that Dr. B was going to do some more research and speak with my endo again, and then he would get in touch with me. When I read her message, my heart leapt because to me…it sounded like Dr. B might be changing his mind on the surgery.
When his coordinator finally contacted me, she said they wanted me to come back into the office to meet with Dr. B. This confirmed what I was feeling, and I started earnestly praying for it.
I should make a sidenote here and tell you all that in my heart, I do not feel like I have cancer. I can’t explain it other than to say it’s just a gut feeling I have. However, I’m trying to be wise because I know I’m human and my gut feelings aren’t always right (they are most of the time…but obviously not 100% accurate). My plan of action thus far was to be at peace and to just follow the recommendations of my doctors. I decided to trust that God would change things, if they needed to change. And that’s why I just wanted ONE expert to advise me to wait 🙂
My appointment with Dr. B was yesterday. Benji arranged to be off of work, so that we could process any new information together, and my mom watched the kids, so that we could be 100% focused.
My prayers were answered when we finally spoke to him. He informed me that he had done quite a bit more research, and had spoken to his mentor at UAB, who performs the most thyroid surgeries of anyone in the state. He explained the biopsy results to us a bit more and said that my “suspicious” result with my genetic traits only translates into a 40% chance of me actually having thyroid cancer. With that being the case, and since pregnancy hormones don’t generally affect the thyroid, he recommended waiting until after I deliver the baby to have it removed. But it didn’t end there! He also informed me that he would only want to take out the side that contains the nodule. What this means is that if they take that side out, and it’s not cancer, I get to keep the other half, which *should* be able to function and produce enough hormone to prevent me from being on lifelong meds. Of course, that also means that if the nodule is cancerous, I’ll have to have a second surgery, but like I said above…I feel in my gut that I don’t have cancer, so this is just an AMAZING option for me!
I am just so over the moon excited. I mean…God removed ALL of my concerns in one appointment! I hadn’t even prayed about one of those concerns (being on lifelong meds) because I didn’t think I had any other option. I thought it was just one of those things that just is what it is. I’m so relieved for this new route I get to take!
So for now, the plan of action is to have my thyroid removed in October sometime. We will be having a thyroid ultrasound sometime in the next week or two just to be sure the nodule is stable in size and pregnancy isn’t making anything grow. If it hasn’t grown, we can be reassured that waiting is the right decision 🙂
Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers over the past couple of years! This has been an interesting journey to say the least!
And because I feel the need to have a picture with every post, here’s a comparison shot so you can see how big I am with Theo in comparison to Mae…
Whoa buddy. And I’m actually 16 weeks now. HUGE. #4thbabyprobs