Thyroid Cancer at 21

When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 23 years old in 2008, a single mom with a 3-year-old at the time, I freaked out a little.

I had a mass on one side of my thyroid and cancer had spread to some lymph nodes. I was officially diagnosed with Follicular and Papillary Thyroid Cancer. 

Forced into a strict diet for the first time in my life right after my biopsy results. I had two back to back surgeries than radiation.

When the Surgeon talked to me about it he kept reassuring me the scar would be small and indiscreet. I didn’t care about the scar, I was scared to death.

Treatment

They chose the treatments for me, as I was not offered other options or alternative treatments, had a high success rate. As a young mom, I did what I felt strongly at the time was the only choice I had.

The idea is to cut out as much of cancer as possible, then zap it with a dose of radioactive iodine.

To get the cells to take that iodine well, they starve you of it for about a month or so. No thyroid medicine to help regulate the constant fatigue and mind fog I was wading through already.

I had to eat foods with practically no salt.

It was primarily a good friend Diana’s parents garden that fed me during that period. While I did not know any better then and focused on the negative side effects, I remember losing weight and feeling my hair grew tons.

I had two surgeries and a round of radiation and grateful that cured cancer. The uphill battle with the autoimmune disorder and understanding the impact of non-organic foods on my body would take years.

Replacing my horomones

I have been on a pretty high dose of thyroid medicine for years(300 mcg), due to the full removal. I  have never experienced the relief promised when the medicine “does what your body cannot do right”.

Right

Not to be crass, but days and nights of diarrhea, sudden spells of migraines, vomiting or whatever else (or when I get really lucky and get a mix of them). is not functioning as a human body should.

I was forced to dive into research on what my thyroid had done for me. Therefore learning what I was missing and find ways to supplement that more naturally.

I lost quite a bit of weight a few years ago, by lifting 5 days a week and doing light cardio. Eating a really strict vegetable and lean protein and had a cheat day once a week.

In total I lostĀ  68 lbs in 3 months.

While I kept it off for over a year, I was miserable doing it.

I loved the feeling of empowerment losing weight gave me I had never attained before. Yet, I was also incredibly insecure in my new body and worried about the authenticity of attraction.

Will you love me if I get bigger again?

I know that may seem silly and superficial but I am being honest here.

Me at my thinnest in 2015. Lifting and cardio and restrictive diet

Slipping into a depression of a sort (I plan to write a post on mental health fairly soon) inĀ  2016.

I figured I had eaten gluten my whole life, so I just ate my emotions and bread. The weight crept up again and within a year I had gained it all back.

There where stints of exercising but had increasing medical issues that I mentally handled poorly. I say that because it’s the main reason I could not get healthy. Not believing I could truly because I let doctors and tests tell me I was ill, that it may be hopeless.

When I read it, the statistics said it all.

So, eventually, they convinced me that having no thyroid, and an autoimmune disorder, meant I was bound to suffer severe migraines, horrible periods, and huge weight fluctuations with emotional swings of a pro baseball player forever.

Be grateful you got the fat-cancer lady.

I did try, but secretly my body was telling me over and over what the issue was.

It started in my head, from the awful seeds we and others plant in our heads as children, then extended out through my heartache I hung onto. The lifetime of digestive issues, could all be chalked up to just the thyroid disease and the food allergy.  I would eventually learn it was not entirely that.

This is half of my healing story, the mental and spiritual part I will write about another time. Know this, you deserve to feel good, happy and healthy in your path.

I talked to my doctor and after a high white blood cell count, and a trip to an oncologist to rule out a blood disease felt more confident. He suggested some natural nutritional supplements to help my body heal. I started being really good about taking my medicine and followed my gluten-free diet but nothing changed.

Months went by and I kept gaining and started to feel defeated. After Branden and I got together we started eating much healthier just due to the fact we both loved cooking from scratch.

But my health continued to go down. In October of 2017, I was walking down the hallway headed to leave the house from lunch break. I woke up to the cup of water spilled across my shirt and Branden headed toward me. I must have misstepped, I shook it off, drank some water and kept mumbling “I’m fine” to my boyfriend, desperately trying to get me to speak full sentences.

To make a long story short we ended up in the ER that day for hours. Head scan revealed no bleeding on the brain or any broken bones. My neurologist, however, put me on leave after suspecting a seizure. They had me do some neuro tests and a table tilt test. I was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope and told the seizure activity could have come on for no reason and may stay forever.

Here take more of this anti-seizure medicine.

They had found a cyst on my pineal gland deep in my brain but it’s not worth operating on as the risks outweigh the potential benefits for now.

I had been on an anti-seizure medication for a year or so to help with increasingly severe migraines that left me puking and unable to function. They had upped my meds in August significantly. When I fell in October they upped them more and ignored my questioning the very meds causing it. It is a symptom on the damn pamphlet but I was treated as someone who does not understand neuroscience, therefore he ignored me.

I had been to see an amazing Doctor at the Cancer Center previously for my sometimes high white blood cell counts were high. It was nothing serious, this can happen when you have an autoimmune disorder, but he said: “Well, are you eating 100% gluten-free and organic?”……I told him honestly, I was not 100% gluten-free still and could not afford to be 100% organic. Because I thought I could not. I was so wrong, and goodness how right was Dr. Williams was.

Branden and I December 2017, right before our diet change. Collectively this is 100-105 lbs ago for us. We have not worked out, we are fairly active as we garden and like to work outdoors. But this is solely eating organic and getting back in line with nature.

We watched a film called “Hungry for Change” on Netflix one day. It was life shaking for our household. We decided to go organic for once and for all, completely. Not wanting to waste food, we ate what we had while starting to only buy organic.

Throwing out anything we could not donate and spent $326 initially buying the basics in organic. We threw out household cleaners, makeup, body care items. If it was not organic or made from organic at home, we got rid of it.

I had been wearing less and less makeup but I did have a lot of fun making some for me and my cousin. I will make a post on that as well, it was so cost-effective and using natural, organic products have transformed my skin.

Everything we threw out of the bathroom
$326 worth of organic food and spices

We spent the first few days staying pretty heavy on vegetables to detox. We used the juicer and the kids really enjoyed that and got them on board. Branden and I drank tons of Dandelion root tea as well. I would highly recommend researching it. It helps to detox by cleaning out the digestive system so you do have to be able to be home, preferably near a bathroom.

You need to drink tons of water to stay hydrated as well, but we immediately dropped our water weight and I believe sodium retention was reduced significantly. The longer we have eaten this way, the more convinced I am that we had been eating way more sodium than we could have known from a label.

I feel this way from our personal body changes, and due to the documented dishonesty of FDA labels in general. Going organic was not quite enough for us either, we are also growing our own in every way we can to reduce cost and impact on the consumer rat race we want out of.

Starting the organic lifestyle this was my naked skin. Blotchy, red, irritated.
About 2 1/2 weeks into the change with incredible changes for me. My skin texture smoothed out and my pores started shrinking.

My body continues to change and improve every day A few months into the switch to organic, we went Vegan. I was 30 lbs down just from eating organic. Branden has lost around 70 lbs. What’s more,  is neither of us cares about the numbers and are simply grateful for what we can do now.

We found profound changes in our mental state, our bodies, and quite frankly spiritually, after going Vegan. I am by no means saying it is the only way, but for us going Vegan benefited us so tremendously I have to suggest you at least try a 30-day vegan challenge sometime. See what you think for yourself.
Part of going Vegan meant we had to relearn how to cook everything in our house. We found substitutes that were plant based in the beginning and then started experimenting with our own homemade versions of veggie burgers, nuggets and grain meat.  Vegan Nacho cheese made the world make sense for us too. Tortilla chips and that are my number one favorite salty snack.

I am profoundly aware of my weight loss in the heat of the day, working on vegetable patches or chasing my 5-year-old around. I want to live a long full life and that’s what makes the loss significant for us both. We both still struggle with our own personal issues with food and overeat from time to time. But it happens much less, as the food fills me up in a way it never did before. I have been more clear-headed as well and my life and time means so much more to me now, I don’t have time to mindlessly eat away.

The loss of the mad cravings has been a huge blessing and the food is more appreciated in every way. It tastes better because my taste buds are functioning like they should instead of being over stimulated. My kids love when we make food and its something we grew ourselves and they really have changed. Mentally my 6 year old is calmer and able to control his emotions better.

Our big kid has said their self it’s helped their mood (they are 13) and they have seen their skin clear up as well as mine. The red, irritation we struggled with is mild and rare now that it flares up.

We also combated a dangerous blood issue (including a hospital stay and blood transfusion upon finding out) our big kid had with natural food supplements.

You can make small changes right away, and get big benefits really quickly if you stick with them. I have tried to dip my toe into eating organic before. The difference in that and going full-on organic has been huge.

If I could of known what I know then, I would have eaten this way years before. I am so grateful for all the changes in my family. I stopped taking 1500 mg of anti-seizure meds a day, I have not had a syncope episode or seizure in 3 months solid.

While I lost weight and able to control my emotions better, my weight still fluctuates. Everyday, I feel more energy. each day and the changes in my skin on my face I have been documenting because its hard for me to believe sometimes. I look forward to sharing more of this journey with all of you too.

I’m so grateful for each article someone else took the time to write, the videos they uploaded. It helped us on this road and continues to, we just want to give what we receive, love.

Love and light to you all,

Tj

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