Shaped Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a B….

Celebrate Cancer Survivors Today

Yesterday was  National Cancer Survivor’s Day. While having cancer totally sucks, being a survivor is something that I am very grateful for. If you have a cancer survivor in your life, you have probably celebrated with them in their journey. To read my story, click here. To hear my story, check out the video a recorded when I had cancer in 2013, and right before more surgery.

It is tiny.  It affects so many things in your body. It is the bane of my existence.

The thyroid.

This non-assuming butterfly-shaped gland is located at the based of your neck. For many people it functions normally and never causes a problem. For me, it was a nightmare. One of the main functions of the thyroid is to regulate metabolism and calcium in the body. When my thyroid problems began in 2001, I didn’t understand that metabolism and calcium and big deals. Huge deals to be exact.

There are symptoms of thyroid disease that can mirror other medical conditions so it is very important to pay close attention to your body. When I was first diagnosed, I was pregnant with Tyra but after she was born, everything when back to normal. Diagnosis number 2 came when I was pregnant with Jada, and this time I had to take medication. But again, everything returned to normal once I had that baby. A few years later I felt more stressed than usual and I suffered from insomnia. I know that stress, anxiety and insomnia are not the ideal way to live, but I thought they were common for a wife in an unraveling marriage with three children under the age of five.

I did however, seek medical attention and we followed a pretty strict protocol for testing and treating my thyroid. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I would be living with thyroid disease for the rest of my life. It wasn’t something I could treat today that would disappear tomorrow. As my levels were always checked at my yearly exams, they came back normal. So when I started feeling weird, I thought it was because of the divorce or parenting drama or side effects from my caffeine dependency.

As an extrovert, I tend to thrive in chaotic situations. I thought my symptoms were normal for the chaos in my life, and I accepted them as such. I was wrong.

2016-06-06 01.16.19

My neck today, minus the swelling from my thyroid. You can even see my scar, which has healed rather nicely over the past three years.

Thyroid problems can cause fatigue, moodiness, depression, and a lot of of other side effects. It’s important to know this because I’m now realizing that it doesn’t all go downhill after you turn 40. Which is exactly what I said once I started having problematic symptoms. Symptoms are signs of something else going on…and we all need to learn how to pay attention to that something else.

As I mentioned in the video, if there’s any advice I would give anyone who’s feeling a little off or weird, or excessively tired, or distracted or overweight despite your efforts to stay fit, it’s definitely to have the doctor check your thyroid levels. This simple blood test can tell you a lot of information.

If your thyroid levels are normal, watch what you eat. Eat at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, lay off the sweets, and get some exercise. If you are too tired to exercise, tell your doctor.

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National Cancer Survivor’s Day is a day to celebrate those who have beat their medical demons, as well as remember those who weren’t so lucky. The time to take care of yourself is now. The time to pay attention to your thyroid is now. The time to commit to a healthier life is now. Do this for cancer survivors everywhere.

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