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  • Writer's pictureSusie Chan

Thyroid Cancer & Me

After Marathon des Sables last year, I had a terrible cough. After a course of antibiotics it shifted. Presuming it was likely to be inhaled sand in my lungs, I thought nothing more. Fast forward to Chicago Marathon, and the cough had returned, this time far, far worse. I passed out at the finish line (six start medal still around my neck) this time, worried about it being something worse, I called the doctors.

Doctors found a large tumour in my neck. This was quite a shock too be honest. As a runner, consider myself fit, and outside of all the cheese eating, relatively healthy. I’m too busy for this. These lumps are most likely to be benign. However it was large, and affecting my breathing, especially at night. To run I had to stick my tongue out like a Labrador to keep my airway clear. Obviously it had to go. After, not one, but two visits to surgery (things were not as straightforward as hoped) it was out.

It was mighty impressive too, over 5cm. (Resisting posting the picture of the tumour on Social Media has been quite tough! It's impressive)

I lost half my thyroid with it. A histology report told us the lump as cancer.

Again, more bewilderment and shock. Is it something in my lifestyle that has brought this on? Apparently not. These things just happen. Women, over 40’s and Asians are more likely to get thyroid cancer. I was in the sweet spot of all. The symptoms? Aside from the cough, being hungry and tired, a permanent sate for me in the middle of my training.

The good news is plentiful though. It’s out, gone, no longer squishing my airwaves. Of all the cancers, it is extraordinarily treatable. I no longer have to run like a puppy with it’s tongue out. I can still run!

Badwater Cape Fear was interesting, as it was the first time I had run far, and wondered if the fallout of the previous few weeks would have affected me. Turns out no. I was grateful for the race, as a positive focus. I made new friends & was so well looked after by the RD and crew.

The thyroid controls lots of things in your body, including metabolism and core temperature. So this will need to be checked regularly, as will my neck, but going forward it’s all good.

Looking forward to putting this episode behind me and, after getting medical sign of from the race team, the Marathon des Sables.

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to those who helped me in the last few months. Those who came with me to appointments to help me listen and digest information. Those who came round my house to tell me about their races, and bring me jigsaws, lego and ice cream. Those who listened to my sometimes wildly over-the-top worries. You know who you are.

I also want to say a HUGE thank you to my sponsors. Greeanacre Capital, Breathe Unity, and In an industry that is based around wellbeing, fitness and health, to have your unwavering support and understanding during this time means so much. So, next time you want to buy sports kit, go to Intersport, because they have integrity and are kind.

The leftover scar will fade, but I like it. Imagine the terrible fibs I could tell about how I got it.

There are two people, friends, who are fighting cancer that I would like to mention,

Both are doing fantastic job running and raising money. Give them some support.

Their links for fundraising are below

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