So you’ve been diagnosed with the “C” word, specifically thyroid cancer, and now you’re seeing a whole new care team. This usually includes an endocrinologist who specializes in disorders of the endocrine system, including the thyroid. As a patient who has been living with thyroid cancer on and off for the past 5 years, here is a non-exhaustive list of tips about treatment and how to manage, including questions to ask your care team and tips for your appointments as you go along your own cancer journey.
11 Tips for Navigating Thyroid Cancer
- Have a good relationship with your endocrinologist, as they will be treating you for life.
- Make sure your values, morals, and opinions are respected as part of the treatment process. The cure isn’t the only part of the cancer journey.
- Ask about different treatment options (i.e. surgical removal).
- Inquire about potential side effects of each treatment and how to mitigate them, especially if you undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation.
- Ask for clarity on medical jargon, such as thyroid-specific blood tests.
- Bring in a list of questions to each appointment.
- If possible, have a caregiver, such as a family member or friend, come with you to each appointment as a second set of eyes and ears.
- Join support groups that are available both online and in-person.
- Utilize your patient portal, if you have one, for messaging your care team, renewing prescriptions, and viewing lab and ultrasound results.
- If you end up having to take synthroid, keep a diary or log of how you feel at each dose to be able to report back to your care team.
- Advocate for yourself if something doesn’t feel right.
As a patient in a new and very unique environment with a disease you never thought you would get, knowing how to navigate this beautiful, yet terrifying journey is hard. However, if you stick to your values, ask questions, create a strong relationship with your care team, and advocate for yourself, it’ll make the process a lot smoother.
Carly Flumer is a young woman who was diagnosed with stage I papillary thyroid cancer at the age of 27. She recently received her Master’s degree from Boston University in Health Communication and received her Bachelor’s from George Mason University in Health Administration and Policy. While being diagnosed with the “C” word at such a young age was a surprise, as it would be to anyone, she found strength, support, and inspiration in sharing her cancer journey on social media. As a result of her health outcome, she looks to advocate for other cancer patients through education, research, and health literacy.