An Open Letter to My Thyroid

An open letter to my thyroid

Hey Thyroid

Can you believe it’s been 6 years since we parted company? It must be true what they say, time really does fly by when you’re having fun.

Do you remember  how six months after our first surgery adventure, we realised that cancer had made a comeback? I was scanned more than a library bar code and my neck felt like a human pin cushion. But on the flip side, the doctors and nurses complimented me on my swan like neck. See, there is always a flip side.

I think this is the last photo I have of us together. I was just about to go into surgery and your exit was imminent. I’m not ashamed to say I was looking forward to you leaving, you were definitely past your best before date. That said, I can’t overlook those 40 wonderful years we had together and I will remember them fondly.

I'm off... to surgery!

The surgeon had his work cut out (ha, see what I did there!) because that cancer was busy not just with you but most of my lymph nodes too. My neck got a right decluttering and I guess that as it’s so empty, it will always be swan like!

They say that you never really know how much you love something until it’s gone. Well, never has that been more true than the month after we parted company. I realised that you tiny but mighty endocrine gland may have been small in size but played a big (make that huge) job in my wellbeing. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you more when I had you. After you left, the cogs just stopped turning. By the end of the month, I had about as much energy as a flat battery, only less. 

Thyroidectomy Nov 2011

Things hotted up for me and my empty neck when I got radioactive in an effort to kill any cancer that might have left behind. I spent a couple of days in isolation where I felt like a character in Z for Zacariah* (have you ever read that book? If not you should!) and measured a nifty 6 on a Geiger counter. 

The Radioactive Iodine Capsule

When I was radioactive, I binge watched movies, stuffed my face with low iodine snacks and experienced word tsunamis. I didn’t know what to do with all the words in my head so I tipped them out of my brain, onto my computer, and into a blog. I named the blog after you, because without you and your shenanigans, I wouldn’t be blogging at all. See, there is always a flip side.

January Day 6 - Mine

My mum always tells me, “everything is replaceable except life itself,” and everyone knows mum is always right, at least my mum is anyway! Even pretty butterfly shaped glands like you can be replaced. After the radioactivity and the word tsunamis, they gave me drugs that made me feel as good as you did. The Verve were wrong. The drugs do work and I’ll gladly pop those pills for the rest of my life.

Of course, I have more than the blog to remind me of you, I have 40 years of happy memories and a neat little scar (lucky, my surgeon was a good cutter.) The scar gets very red and angry when I exercise, I feel so Harry Potter. I still get my empty neck scanned and still get my blood drawn once a year and I still get the associated scanaxiety that comes with it. You’re still making your presence felt with the bucketload of thyroid antibodies you’ve left behind. Getting those antibodies to leave my building may well be my life’s work, luckily I’m patient and am always up for a challenge!

june-6

Since you left, I’ve gained so much, and I’m not just talking about the 20kg thatI lost before I lost you and have since “rediscovered.” I blamed you for the pounds I piled on for a long time, but if I’m being honest, I must also blame my lack of willpower and my love of cake. But one thing I’ve learned, is that life is too short not to eat the cake.

Since you left, the blog has morphed from a blow by blow account of Cancer V.2 to a more upbeat collection of recipes, travel tips and random ramblings.  Sometimes, I think I should take the blow by blow bits down but I don’t, because I hope that reading them will bring comfort to others with a (thyroid) cancer diagnosis just as they brought comfort to me when I wrote them.

Since you left, I have spent a small fortune on scans, consultants, drugs and let’s not forget the $2000 Thyrogen jab. It’s not every day you walk around with $2000 invested in your butt cheeks! However, I’ve learned that the money doesn’t really matter because as a wise man once said, “your health is your wealth.” True dat.

Since you left, I’ve taken part in countless fun runs and eight half marathons and no one is more surprised about that than me. The older I get, the slower, I go but I think I have a couple more (slow ones)  in me yet. 

Disneyland Half Marathon - Life Defining Moments 

Since you left, my feet have been very itchy and I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful adventures. Your untimely demise,  follow up six monthly scans and annual radioactivity scuppered my travel plans for a bit,  but don’t worry, I’ve made up for lost time.

Since you left, I’ve developed a ridiculous enthusiasm for life. Every day may not be good but there is always something good in every day (even if some days I have to look a little harder to find it.)

Since you left, I’ve embraced my inner minimalist so actually losing you fits right in. 

Sammie xx

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT

* Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click to buy the item, I make a little commission but you don’t pay any extra.

  • Sam Newman

    Beautifully written .
    I wish I listened better at school instead of daydreaming then maybe I could find the words to write to tell you how you are just made of awesomeness and what an amazing person you are .
    Love you longtime 💕

    • You don’t need to have listened better at school because you just did tell me what an amazing person I am and I think you’re even amazing-er! See, I made up a word just for you! Love your guts x

  • Oh Sammie, I love this post! I wasn’t here for the beginning of your blog so I just learned so much. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for so many pearls of wisdom. xo

    • To be fair, I think only my mum was here for the beginning of the blog 🙂 Sometimes it’s good to look back to see how far you’ve come!

  • LydiaCLee

    I read Z for Zacariah in year 7 at school…a long time ago. You look really well for someone in surgery in the photos!

  • Great post! I totally agree that your health is your wealth!

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

  • Z for Zacariah actually rings a bell and I wonder now if I have read it! And a $2000 butt… well that’s something most people can’t claim to have! 🙂

    • I bet you have read it – was a high school classic, although I’m a lot older than you so it was probably a classic in the olden days! As for those $2000 butt cheeks, they didn’t stay gold plated for long!

  • You are one hell of a strong and positive woman! I loved reading this post. I knew of your thyroid issues and cancer obviously, but didn’t know so much about the beginning of this blog. A really interesting read x

    • Thanks lovely! Those early days are buried deep in the archives here somewhere but sometimes it’s good to look back to see how far you’ve come. And when it comes to strong and positive women, it takes one to know one! xx

  • Leda Taylor

    What a beautiful open letter lovely Sam! I love the fact that you always have a smile in you face, whether you’re in the hospital, running half Marathons or eating cake 🙂
    We love you lots. xxs

    • Well, I always have a smile on my face when I’m eating cake, that’s a given! Love you guys heaps and you always keep me smiling!

  • You inspire me every day Sammie!! Your positivity and enthusiasm is infectious, I feel so grateful to have you in my life xxx

  • Soz not soz, thyroid! I wouldn’t wish it on anyone BUT I’d never have met you if it hadn’t packed up and out so I’m glad for that and all the amazingness you’ve had ever since saying catch ya . . .

    Fun fact: I have read Z for Zachariah in both English and German!

    • Exactly! The people I have met through blogging, you included, have been one of the biggest cancer perks! And that’s not just a fun fact, it’s an impressive one! You so clever!

  • Laura Baldwin

    You are an inspiration! I parted my my own annoyed thyroid May 2016, with the CA encapsulated. Keep on keepin’ on! ☺️

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    You’re so inspiring and definitely making the most out of life! And yes life is way too short to not eat the cake!

  • Now I understand where your butterfly logo comes from! Life IS too short not to eat the cake, and finding something good in every day is a very wise thing to do. I often forget that part which is ridiculous. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Well you have certainly made the most of life without your annoying thyroid. Well done you.

    • Thanks, Kathy! I like to follow Muhammad Ali’s advice “don’t count the days, make the days count.” 🙂

  • Jenni from styling curvy

    I love you! Cancer is shit but the lessons it teaches and zest for life it instills…that’s a silver lining. I’m so glad you are still here running marathons and eating cake. ❤

    • It is so shit but man, it’s taught me so much. I have to say, I am very lucky, it’s given me so much more than what it’s taken away. I think I have a lot of cake eating and half (I could never do a full) marathons in me yet! xx

  • Wishing you many many more healthy years. I agree that you shouldn’t take down your old posts because that is a big part of your life and your journey to where you are now.
    It is also inspiration for others.
    Take care

    • Thanks lovely and thanks for following along for so long! I must email soon and find out where you’re at! x

      • It has been a pleasure following your blog and I should be the one thanking you for your inspiration in life in general. I have to be honest and admit I haven’t been following your blog that diligently lately and have missed a few posts thanks to a very slow connection speed. Still in limbo and no big changes yet 😭

  • Much love to you! Your fighting spirit and zest for life inspire the hellout of me, truly. Keep it up! <3

  • What a journey! I had no idea that a thyroid was butterfly shaped (and finally my brain clicks on your logo). Is it too soon to make an awful joke about you being the ultimate minimalist?

    • Clearly, I was way ahead on my minimalism journey. I got rid of body parts before my possessions! I think Josh and Ryan would be proud of me!

  • merilyn

    good letter dat! gorgeous sammie!
    always so positive, inspiring and more!
    words seem to have left the building lately, but you get my drift hun!
    the big pictures are coming, when I catch up with myself!
    much love m:)X

  • I am really pleased you had your word tsunami because as I have told you before I found going right baaaaack to the beginning of your blog very helpful to me once I knew I had cancer and surgery was needed. Thank you for this Sammie. I am inspired by your positivity and how you reached out to me when I was in the throes of ‘what is this cancer thing all about’. Your zest for life is admirable. Making the cake along with doing the exercises seems a very sensible life outlook to me!

    • Letting those words out was so helpful to me, but I wanted them to have a bigger purpose and hopefully help other people too, so knowing those posts from the olden days helped you means a lot to me. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through all this cancer crapola but I’m pleased I’ve been able to be of some support. Looking forward to the day when we catch up over cake! xx

  • Oh Sammie, I LOVE this post! You’re zest for life and positive attitude are such an inspiration to me xxx Thank you for being such a fantastic part of the IBOT community!
    #teamIBOT

    • That is so lovely of you to say – thanks for being the hostess with the mostest. You know how much I love linking up at #IBOT!

  • What an amazing story – and what an incredible journey you’ve been on. I’m so glad you had those word tsunamis because I love getting an insight into your life!