Thyroid Cancer Survivor

Low-Iodine Living

Low-Iodine Living

I will never complain about having to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner again!

That is what I’ve learned from being on the super restrictive low-iodine diet for the last five days. Oh, I’ve also learned that iodine is present in just about everything. Cereal? Yup! Dairy? You bet. All of the things that I would normally consume in the span of a day contain some degree of salt, and therefore iodine (you can read more about the low-iodine diet, here).

When the doctor’s office told me I would be going for an I-131 whole body scan, they only mentioned avoiding shellfish. Easy enough, or so I thought. Upon further investigation of the low-iodine diet, I found that there are a number of no-no’s aside from shellfish.

If you are reading this post and wondering what the heck all of this means, let me explain. Back in November, my antithyroglobulin numbers began to rise. My surgeon suggested that we wait until February and retest. So we did another round of blood work and another neck ultrasound. My antithyroglobulin went from 233 in November to 302 in February (it had been at 40 in early 2016). After a panel of physicians met and discussed my case and treatment options, they decided that I should have a radioactive scan of my whole body done to see if there is remaining thyroid tissue that is causing the numbers to increase…or something more serious.

Which brings me to the low-iodine diet. To get a proper reading from this scan, the body needs to be deprived (or starved) of iodine, so that when the radioactive iodine pills are administered, the thyroid cells will absorb the iodine (because they are starving), and glow on the scan.

Fortunately for me, I can continue taking my daily thyroid hormone replacement (Synthroid), thanks to the invention of Thyrogen, a synthetic drug that gets injected two days in a row prior to the scan.

Unfortunately for me, my surgeon is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Each day next week I must go into the City (a four-hour round-trip commute) to have blood drawn and the Thyrogen and radioactive iodine pills administered prior to the scan. Then I must undergo the scan itself.

Let’s hope that this anticipated Nor’Easter (predicted on the East Coast for next Tuesday and Wednesday) decides to go elsewhere, that I can last another week on this dreadful low-iodine diet, and that Friday, March 17th comes quickly.

Thyroid Thursday: Awareness Efforts

thyroid-cancer-awareness

It’s the end of September…and you know what that means. Today is the final installment of Thyroid Thursday. I hope that you have enjoyed learning from Fern Olivia as much as I have and that together we have been able to answer any thyroid questions you may have had.

As part of the awareness efforts happening this month, Eisai, Inc. will donate $1 to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association and Light of Light Foundation (up to $20K) for every butterfly-hug photo shared on social media. You can still partake, and it’s an easy way to get involved and help this worthy cause. Don’t forget to get your photos up before the end of the month and tag your photo #TruthAboutTC on Instagram.

If you are looking for more information about thyroid cancer, the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association is hosting their annual conference in Los Angeles from Oct 21 – 23, 2016. There you will hear from doctors about new treatments and meet with other survivors.

And remember, Fern Olivia will be hosting her Thyroid Yoga Teacher Training in Los Angeles from November 3 – 6, 2016. Click here for more information and to sign up. Receive a $100 scholarship when you apply and mention the code: LIVINGINSTEIL.

As for me, I will have a follow-up with my endocrinologist in November, when I go for routine blood work and a neck ultrasound. Here’s hoping that all of my thyroid levels are where they should be.

Thank you for your support and remember to check your neck!

Thyroid Thursday: A Guest Post on The Truth About Thyroid Cancer

This week marks the second installment of Thyroid Thursday, a weekly series in September to support Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Today, Fern Olivia describes what’s associated with the increased rates of thyroid disease and cancer…especially amongst women. Remember to leave any thyroid or health-related questions that you would like her to answer in the comments section below. Read on to hear more from Fern!

The Truth About Thyroid Cancer - Fern Olivia

Why are more people, especially women, struggling with thyroid health today? And why is thyroid cancer on the rise?

In 2016, the National Cancer Institute estimated 64,300 new cases of thyroid cancer, which is the eighth most prevalent type of cancer, right above kidney cancer and leukemia. You probably know someone with a thyroid disease or cancer, maybe even a few people. The fact that you’re reading this means you’re part of a ripple effect of empowerment, and this article may change your life.

So please, read on and share this information with everyone who may benefit.

Experts don’t always know what causes each individual case of thyroid cancer, when a malignant tumor or nodule builds up in the thyroid. But like other cancers, we can agree that changes in the DNA of your cells seem to play a role. These DNA changes may include changes that are inherited as well as those that “happen as you get older.” But what does this even mean? And why are more and more young adults and children being diagnosed with these cancers?

We carry DNA from our biological parents, and these genes may be turned off, especially when we live a clean lifestyle with minimal stress. Oftentimes, however, these genes turn on or become expressed. And from my work with hundreds of clients with thyroid disease and thyroid cancer, I’ve seen a pattern of triggers from a major trauma or life incident, to a cancer onset somewhere else in the body that results in weakening the immune system, and most commonly, major chronic stress on the glandular system and microbiome.

According to Raphael Kellman, M.D., founder of the Kellman Center for Functional and Integrative Medicine, thyroid disease and the microbiome, the bacteria balance within the intestines, are intricately intertwined, and imbalances can set off a cyclical reaction. And until recently, this very important connection has been overlooked.

This may be precisely the reason you may still feel terrible even while being on the thyroid hormone replacement your doctors may have given you. If the microbiome isn’t being healed and strengthened, the thyroid condition may persist and eventually, if the immune and glandular systems have had a recent trauma or the body has been exposed to significant radiation exposure, thyroid cancer cells may turn on.

In functional and integrative medicine, contrary to the Western medicine model, the emphasis is always on healing the gut (intestines) and balancing the colonies of bacteria that live there called the microbiome. Trillions of bacteria live on us and in us with the largest concentration located in the intestine, where 70 percent of our immune system also lives.

In practical terms, when the bacteria that make up our microbiome are healthy and thriving, so are we. Dysbiosis, or imbalances and overgrowth of unfriendly strains of bacteria, can throw things off, contributing to health and immune issues — including cancer.

So, how did the imbalances happen?

Many of us were given antibiotics as children, and oftentimes we weren’t given high strains of probiotics to counter the effect. Overmedicating with antibiotics and antacids destroys microbial populations. Environmental toxins, pesticides, heavy metal exposure, and chemicals in beauty and cleaning supplies also take a major toll, which is the reason I created Ajai Alchemy, a conscious, eco-sustainable beauty brand that actually works to heal your body on a cellular level using pure essential oils and zero chemicals.

Everything we put in and on our bodies can positively or negatively affect our health. Poor diets of sugary foods, refined carbs, GMOs, gluten, pesticides, and chemical additives cause pathogenic strains to flourish. Over time, the gut is weakened and disease manifests within the physical body.

There are two main reasons more people, especially women, are struggling with thyroid health today, and why thyroid disease and thyroid cancer have become more prevalent.

First, our bodies are out of balance. We’re being hit with so many chemicals and toxins that simply didn’t exist generations ago.

Parabens, carcinogens, heavy metals, and GMOs are all bombarding our bodies, and our immune and lymphatic systems can’t keep up!

Then add adrenal fatigue into the mix, which is affecting so many more women today because we have an unbelievable amount of added stress to be wonder women. On top of the chronic stress of always trying to be perfect, our poor eating habits have caught up to us and weakened our digestive system to a point where we see food allergies pop up all over the place. Years of oral contraception have thrown our hormones out of their natural rhythm, and we are finally just seeing now how altering our hormones for years was not really a smart choice.

Our thyroid is the major control center in our bodies, so clearly when we are so out of whack due to the stress placed upon us by our environment, work, and toxins that have taken over our endocrine system, we just can’t keep up. Our bodies go into survival mode, just fighting to find a little bit of balance.

The second reason is a bit more subtle and often something that your doctor may have never presented to you. Many women and men have the fear of communicating their needs and desires, feel unheard at work or in their relationships, or feel afraid to do what they really love and express themselves creatively.

Why does this matter when we are talking about the thyroid?

I have noticed in my practice that many women have manifested thyroid conditions because of a long pattern of not speaking up or feeling blocked creatively. Often, I’ve seen clients who were physically or emotionally abused and have held the trauma inside, afraid to speak up, and even repeating the same situations again, feeling unworthy of being heard, or asking for and receiving the love and support they truly desired.

Are you experiencing something similar? Have your physical symptoms slightly improved with nutrition, lifestyle shifts, or medication, but you just can’t seem to feel 100 percent better? Can you recognize any areas of struggle in your life where you’ve been unable to speak your ideas and truth without being judged, shamed, or criticized? Do you find yourself allowing others to speak without expressing your voice because you are afraid of what they may say or how they may perceive you?

We are approaching a major shift in global consciousness, one in which we are beginning to speak our empowered truth about our intuition, our gifts, and our needs. Thyroid conditions and thyroid cancers have been showing up more and more frequently because we are being called upon to raise our consciousness and become leaders in this world. Our bodies are literally saying “Hey, this blockage here, I’m sick of you not being true to you, I want you to finally speak up, it’s not OK to be silent about what has happened to you, it is time for you to clear the past trauma and become your powerful, confident self!” and it’s about time we listen!

Your emotional health certainly helps shape the way your body functions, right down to a cellular level, and science is now catching up with what ancient medical modalities have been explaining for years. Chinese medicine has forever loved to focus on the emotional relationship of the organs, and in many illnesses, successful treatment of conditions and ailments lie in the resolution of emotional issues. Along with other ancient healing wisdom modalities including Ayurveda, the science of life, Kundalini yoga, and Pranayama, we can really begin to start understanding how the physical and energetic body are connected.

Intrigued? You can learn more about my one-of-a-kind thyroid support method in my mindbodygreen course and dive even deeper with me and the world’s leading thyroid healing experts in my upcoming Thyroid Yoga teacher training happening in L.A. this fall and streaming globally.

*This post was written by Fern Olivia and originally published on mindbodygreen. Photo: Alicia Panetta, Blue Velvet Studios.

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month – September 2016

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month – September 2016

As you may know, thyroid cancer and I have a personal connection. In 2013, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma. I was 26 years old at the time. You can read my full story, here.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It has no care who you are or what your age or background is. It can strike at any time – without warning or notice – as it did in my case. But there are resources out there that can help patients cope with the difficult diagnosis.

When I was first diagnosed, I reached out to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association (ThyCa) for free information and support. ThyCa is a wonderful organization to consult with during your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. They were so instrumental in my journey that I became a member and also a thyroid cancer advocate.

Since September marks Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, it is only natural that I do my part to share my experience and the knowledge I have learned since becoming a survivor. This year, I am excited to welcome Fern Olivia to the blog to help me with this mission.

Fern is a holistic healer. For years, she had suffered with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and saw countless doctors with no result. She then took matters into her own hands and learned to listen to her body. I met Fern a few months ago at the Montauk Magic retreat she hosted and I am delighted to have her share her wisdom here on this site with you and the thyroid community.

During the month of September, I will have Thyroid Thursday each week on the blog. Together with Fern, I hope that I can create a dialogue about thyroid conditions and awareness on this site. Please leave questions for Fern in the comment section, which can include topics that you would like to learn more about. This month has five Thursday’s, which means lots of opportunities to answer your questions. You can also reach out to Fern (@fernolivia) or myself (@livinginsteil) on Instagram and Twitter.

I will be sharing more ways that you can get involved with Thyroid Cancer Awareness this month. Stay tuned!

*Image via ThyCa

Montauk Magic Part I

Montauk Magic Retreat

What could be better than spending a day out in Montauk at a yoga retreat? That’s exactly where I’ll be tomorrow — at Montauk Magic, a week-long (from Wednesday, July 20th – Monday, July 25th) wellness event complete with morning smoothies, meditation classes, and a holistic guru (check the itinerary, as the events vary daily). To say that I’m beyond excited (or that my mind and body need this program right now), would be an understatement.

When I studied the daily events, I knew they were right for me. Finding out that Fern Olivia (who like me, suffered from Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, and is the founder of Thyroid.Yoga) was going to be teaching a guided meditation class on Saturday, confirmed that this was the day I wanted to attend. Actually, reading about Fern’s background and approach to self-healing made me think that there was some divine intervention at play here. If you’ve followed my thyroid journey, you know that I often feel tired and sluggish. It seems that no amount of Synthroid can improve these symptoms, which has led me to pursue a more holistic approach. So I was delighted to correspond with Fern, and I am even more elated to meet her in person and learn from her meditation class.

Montauk Magic Retreat

According to the website, the Montauk Magic Retreat has lots to offer — from chakra and aura cleansing to energy and card reading (all of which is new to me). If you’re on Long Island, I highly suggest you check this event out. Fern has graciously offered my Living in Steil readers a special discount code to attend. The secret code MAGIC gives you $30 off day and week passes for the retreat at fernolivia.com. Follow @fernolivia for all of the amazing classes and DIY organic essential oil alchemy bars and thyroid yoga classes she has popping up around Montauk and Amagansett this week!

Montauk Magic Retreat

In addition to the events, Fern will be cheffing the retreat with haute all-organic plant-based cuisine and a specially curated Thyroid Yoga-approved menu.

I’ll be sharing some behind-the-scenes happenings tomorrow. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (username: livinginsteil) so you don’t miss out on the action!

Meet Fern Olivia:

Fern Olivia

Fern Olivia Langham, founder of Thyroid.Yoga™, is a LA-based instructor and wellness expert renowned for her artful approach to self-healing. Through her own journey recovering from Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Fern Olivia combines her extensive knowledge of yoga, meditation, breathwork, mantra, holistic health, and plant-based alchemy into a one-of-a-kind integrative approach. She has helped hundreds of men and women overcome their struggles with thyroid and hormone imbalances and you can learn her practices on her brand new MindBodyGreen video course. Fern Olivia will take you on a journey to empower you to create daily rituals that will support your sustained health and vitality. You’ll learn about the root causes of thyroid symptoms, and how to self-heal using the practices of yoga, meditation, breath work, mantra and holistic lifestyle rituals.

In addition to her MindBodyGreen video course and one-of-a-kind Thyroid.Yoga™ membership-based practice, Fern Olivia leads meditation and yoga retreats and speaks on the topics of conscious communication, self-love, and healing at events around the world. Fern Olivia also combined her passion for plants with her love of organic beauty to birth Ajai Alchemy as a luxury apothecary.

Connect with Fern Olivia on Instagram @fernolivia and Facebook for powerful resources and inspiration, and be the first to know about her upcoming Thyroid.Yoga™ teacher training program in LA and Australia, as well as her life-changing retreats.

Upcoming Events:

Thyroid Yoga Teacher Training for Healers and Wellness Practitioners

This one-of-a-kind experience will be offered live at Ra Ma Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology in Venice, California on Friday November 4, Saturday November 5, and Sunday November 6. Fern Olivia will be providing streaming access on Ra Ma TV for those attending virtually. Receive more information here.

We are offering a limited number of scholarships to those who apply by August 1, 2016. Please contact love@thyroid.yoga to inquire about our scholarship program.

*Images courtesy of Montauk Magic Retreat/Fern Olivia

My Three-Year Thyroidversary

My Three-Year Thyroidversary

Can you believe it’s been three years? I’m not sure where those years have gone, but for the last three years I’ve been surviving. They say after you battle cancer you are not cured — but you are a survivor.

These past few weeks have been so busy for me that I almost forgot today marked my three year thyroidversary. On June 17, 2013, a New York City surgeon removed my thyroid and several lymph nodes in a three-hour procedure. A lot has happened in the last three years. I got a new job, left a job, followed my passion, and wound up here. Sometimes it feels like I’ve done so much in three years; other times I feel as though time has stood still.

I had to acknowledge this significant day. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and a survivor over the course of three years — things I’d wish I had known when I was first diagnosed. So here is what I would’ve told my scared 26-year-old self if I could go back in time.

Dear Thyroid Patient,

You may think this diagnosis is the end of the world — that your life will never be the same. It’s not. But your life will never be as it is at this very moment. This diagnosis will test every fiber of you — from your reasoning, determination, inner strength, mental capacity, and spiritual being.

You may feel that you are totally and completely alone, misunderstood, and minimized.

You may have friends and loved ones who are incapable of understanding the physical and mental battle that you will come to know so well.

You may have good days and bad ones.

You may cry yourself to sleep.

You may question why this is happening to you.

You may feel as though you can’t get through it.

Each time you feel this way, remind yourself that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It may be a long battle for you, but it’s one that you will win with a positive attitude. Please know how strong you are. How beautiful you are inside and out. And how loved you are. Even if you don’t feel this way now, you will.

Cancer can take a lot from you — if you let it. But it can never destroy a positive spirit, optimism, hope, and your determination to survive.

At the end of the day, a scar is a sign that you are stronger than what tried to hurt you. Each time you look at your scar in the mirror, you should see a line that represents character, strength, and resilience. And when you feel less than in life, let that scar lift you up and tell you otherwise.

You are not defined by your illness, so allow yourself to redefine it.

Sincerely,
A Thyroid Warrior

What My Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis Taught Me

What My Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis Taught Me

This past weekend, April 2nd, marked the three-year anniversary of my thyroid cancer diagnosis (you can read the full story here). It’s not something I choose to commemorate, but rather something my mind never lets me forget. Like it was yesterday, I still remember the day I got the call to come in to my endocrinologist’s office to receive the news.

I was on my way out the door to have lunch with a friend, when I finally reached the doctor’s office on the phone hoping to get the results of the fine needle aspiration biopsy I underwent a week earlier. Instead of hearing “yes, everything is fine,” I heard instead, “the doctor would like to see you this afternoon.” I knew then that the news was grim.

It has been a lengthy and tortuous journey, one that I never thought would have lasted this long. But I learned after my surgery that it is a never-ending one. You are never cured of cancer; you are merely a survivor. Each morning I’m greeted by the same yellow Synthroid pill. And by the afternoon I’m reminded of the toll my invisible illness takes on my body. This journey has forced me to let go of who I thought I was, and to take control of who I am becoming.

But in doing so I’ve learned a few things about myself. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than that which tried to hurt me. I’ve learned that I’m more resilient than I ever thought I could be. And I learned that I will never stop advocating for myself and fighting the good fight — because the fight is worth it.

A terrible diagnosis can put life in perspective for you in a way that you might never know, even if you lived a hundred years. I feel that I am wiser than my young years should allow, yet older than my young years know.

Thyroid cancer has taught me patience, compassion, and understanding — not just for others, but for myself.

P.S. For those of you who are curious, the appointment with my new endocrinologist whom I saw last month went well. She agreed to keep me on the same dose of Synthroid that I’m currently taking, and seems to be a doctor who will listen to me and that I can work with. I will see her again in August for a neck ultrasound and follow-up. Thank you for all of your well wishes!

The Doctor Will See You Now…

The doctor will see you now

Three years after my thyroid surgery, the struggle to find a good endocrinologist is real. If you are a fellow thyroid patient, perhaps you can relate. The first time I heard the word endocrinologist I had no idea what kind of doctor they were, or what they treated. No one in my family had ever had a thyroid problem, so there was never a need for one. I didn’t have any friends who went to one either, so I asked my primary care doctor for a recommendation. He referred me to someone local, and advised me to make an appointment as soon as possible, as they tend to book up fast.

I started seeing an endocrinologist shortly after a lump on my thyroid was discovered in 2013 — even before I knew it was cancer. He prescribed my first dose of Synthroid, and advised me about the next step — a fine needle aspiration biopsy. At first I was in awe of the time he took with me; answering my questions and listening as my voice shook while I fought back tears. He was compassionate and seemed to understand my reluctance to start on Synthroid before I had an official diagnosis.

After the biopsy, when it came time to deliver the news, he called me into his office rather than tell me over the phone. I knew then and there that it wasn’t good. He kept me in his office for over an hour, speaking slowly and methodically about the surgery, recovery, and what I should expect.

But after my surgery it all changed. My surgeon prescribed my new dose of Synthroid — a slight increase from the dosage I had been on before. And I went for post-surgical follow-ups in New York City, where I had my surgery performed. The need to see my endocrinologist at that time seemed like overkill. I was happily adjusting well to 100 mcg of Synthroid, and my scar was healing nicely.

I returned to my endocrinologist a month after my surgery, and to my surprise found that he wanted to increase my dose even further. Here’s where the confusion began. I had a surgeon who wanted to keep me on the lowest dose that would still treat my symptoms, and an endocrinologist who felt that it needed to be higher. What’s a patient to do? Which doctor do you listen to?

I’ve always believed that my body was the best doctor, and would tell me what it needed. Over the last three years, my dose has been increased and decreased by various people with MD’s, and I’ve never felt much of a difference — for better or worse. I tend to think that the lowest dose that still treats your symptoms is best…at least, for me.

Today I am on my way to see a new endocrinologist, one who came highly recommended, and who will with any luck listen to my concerns.

To be continued…

Thyroid Tuesday: Awareness Efforts

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

It’s the final days of September and Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. But that doesn’t mean awareness efforts are over. Thyroid cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the United States, making early detection critical. Be sure to have your doctor perform a neck check at your next appointment and regularly examine your neck at home. I’m thankful to my readers who have offered support as I’ve shared my story, to those who have commented with questions, and others who have raised awareness in their own way. I’m also extremely grateful to Mikelle Hebeka of Zen Thyroid, who shared her valuable insight about living and coping with thyroid disease in two posts on the blog this month (you can read them here and here).

If you are looking for ways to partake in awareness efforts, here are some things that you can do right now.

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Over the weekend I snapped a photo for the #TruthAboutTC challenge. For each person who shares a picture holding a sign that states #TruthAboutTC, Eisai, Inc. will donate $1 to ThyCa and Light of Life Foundation for Thyroid Cancer, up to $50,000. The month still has a few days left, so let’s help them reach their goal! Once you have your photo, share it on social media and tag two friends to help spread the word. You can even mention a fact about thyroid cancer or include a line about your own diagnosis and journey. Please visit ThyCa’s Facebook page for more information!

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Yesterday I took my annual “scarfie” (scarf + selfie = scarfie, in case there was any confusion) for Scarfies 4 Thyca. Just grab your favorite scarf and take a selfie. It’s that easy. Make sure to tag your photos on social media using the hashtag #Scarfies4Thyca #CheckYourNeck #ThyroidCancerAwarenessMonth and get your friends involved, too!

These are two simple awareness initiatives that are a great way to educate others and raise money for thyroid cancer research. For further information on thyroid related topics, please visit the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association and ThyroidChange.

Again, thank you to my readers and the thyroid warriors I have been fortunate enough to meet through blogging and social media. Your support means a lot to me!

P.S. The 18th Annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference will be held next month from October 2nd – 4th (which is actually the end of this week!) in St. Louis, Missouri. Details are on ThyCa’s website!

My Tips for Recovering from a Thyroidectomy

What to Expect After a Thyroidectomy

Welcome to the first installment of Thyroid Thursday. As promised, I will be sharing a post once a week during the month of September about thyroid health.

Today I thought I would offer some tips I gathered from my own thyroidectomy in June 2013. These are mere suggestions that worked for me and helped me get back on my feet, but you should consult your doctor regarding your own treatment.

1. Once your steri strips are removed, make sure to use sunscreen on your scar or keep it covered in the sun. In general it takes scars one full year to heal, so to avoid any permanent scaring as a result of sun exposure it’s best to use sunscreen. I was vigilant after my surgery about sun exposure. I probably kept the steri strips on longer than I should have and even then I covered my neck with a scarf, but it made me feel better about being outside after my surgery. Once I finally did remove the steri strips, I made sure always to have sunscreen on my neck and scar. I like Neutorgena’s Age Shield (face), which has helioplex and is SPF 70. It isn’t greasy and provides plenty of protection even in the water.

2. Dry shampoo is your friend. For all my lovely long-haired thyroid warriors, washing and drying your hair can be a pain after surgery…literally! I found it difficult to maneuver my head in a way that didn’t put stress on my neck, and when I did wash my hair, it was too much to dry and flat iron it. Using a good dry shampoo can help you stretch the days between washings until your neck mobility improves.

3. Make sure to stretch. My surgeon recommended I start stretching my neck soon after surgery. At first I found it uncomfortable and it felt like the incision was being pulled. I started moving my neck up and down and side to side a couple of times a day and gradually increased the frequency once the incision began to heal. I also started doing yoga as soon as I was able to and that helped my neck and body heal. *You should consult your doctor/surgeon with regard to any exercise after surgery and when to begin neck stretches.

4. Scar creams can help your incision fade. I have to say, my scar is virtually undetectable these days (thanks to my wonderful surgeon!). I tried using scar creams but found they irritated the skin around my neck. If you are going to try a cream, make sure you read the directions and test it on your wrist first. Vitamin E can also help the healing process.

5. Invest in straws. Apologies if this seems like a no-brainer or completely ridiculous, but I found that straws came in handy immediately after my surgery. I couldn’t tilt my head back enough to even swallow my Synthroid, so it was essential that every drink had a straw.

For more information on what to expect after surgery, visit the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association’s website.