She found herself facing both at the same time.
My name is Dawn and I live at home with my husband Stephen and three daughters, Charlotte, 17, Georgia, 16, and Olivia, 2. I am nearly 45.
After an undiagnosed virus in February 2001 I was left with a baffling array of symptoms, my thyroid hormone levels were borderline low and most, if not all, of the problems I had were of hypothyroidism.
I subsequently ended up in hospital with thyroiditis and had numerous scans and tests but still no diagnosis or treatment.
By late 2002, still with ongoing symptoms, I asked for a second opinion. More tests and examinations followed and not only did I clearly have a thyroid problem but I was also 22 weeks pregnant!
Eight months into my pregnancy I underwent an ultrasound guided FNA biopsy on my thyroid and was advised that as soon as I had given birth I would have to have a left thyroid lobectomy. I was in a state of shock but tried to concentrate on the having the baby.
Olivia arrived safely on 27th February 2003.
On 1st April 2003, when she was four weeks old, I had my first operation which subsequently revealed that the former concerns were justified.
I did indeed have Thyroid Cancer, a follicular/papillary mix. The completion surgery was scheduled for June.
I received the news that I had cancer on a Friday afternoon, by some ‘miraculous guardian angel’ type of coincidence Kate’s article appeared in “The Journal” newspaper the following Monday! By Tuesday I had been given five copies of the article by family and friends and contacted Kate immediately.
What a relief to be able to talk to someone who could support, empathise, encourage and understand in such a unique way. She had experienced all of the physical, emotional, psychological things that I was having to deal with. She knew how I felt on every level.
Butterfly North East was due to be launched the following month in May, this went ahead and was massively supported with the Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle at capacity. Top local Specialists in Thyroid Cancer offered their support and spoke at the event.
This gave me a huge amount of reassurance, to know that there was going to be a network of support for people like me.
Over the following weeks and months Kate was there for me at every critical point and intuitively knew when I would be at my lowest. Her calls were invaluable.
I had completion surgery in June 2003 and RAI treatment the following September, Kate and Irene both came in to visit, a huge boost when you are in isolation and have severe visiting restrictions!
I ‘passed’ my first ‘Challenge scan’ at six months which was wonderful and last year my results were good enough for me not to have to undergo a second.
Since I met Kate in 2003 there has been ongoing contact through our group meetings at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, clinic appointments, where she works as a volunteer, phone calls, e-mails and some brilliant social events.
I continue to enjoy this contact and to find it beneficial. I have met some lovely people which has lead on to new rewarding friendships.
Thanks to Kate’s tireless efforts, when it must be said, she is at times very tired and low herself, I feel very fortunate not to have gone through this ‘ordeal’ alone.
Family support, which I have had throughout, is essential but to have someone like Kate who has experienced everything first hand and has a first class understanding of this disease is totally priceless.
To be treated successfully for Thyroid Cancer is clearly the most important thing. However, to live without a thyroid gland and all that entails following a cancer diagnosis is another entity entirely!!
This is where Kate comes into her forte, simply she is my ‘guardian angel’. Thanks to her, I feel that following my good fortune in recovery I can and do support others diagnosed with this disease.
It is essential for the well being of Thyroid Cancer patients that the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust continues.