Examiner’s note: To read part one of this two part exclusive story click here.
‘I will be there for you’
Now in remission, Verrengia is doing well. But in the weeks and months to follow her treatment, thyroid cancer surfaced again. This time it spread like wildfire throughout her entire family of origin.
“Last year was hard realizing my sisters had it,” said Verrengia. “Three sisters all had thyroid cancer. They all had nodules not that they could feel. My one sister, Christine, was very vigilant in letting her doctor know I had thyroid cancer. The strange thing was all our TSH levels came back normal. She pushed for an ultrasound and they found a nodule. Her doctor said normally they wouldn’t do anything about it, but because of what happened to me she went to an Endocrinologist, had a biopsy, surgery and radioactive treatment.”
Since Verrengia and Christine had endured thyroid cancer, the two oldest sisters got checked out.
“My second oldest sister, Kathy, was diagnosed in February of 2011 and had her surgery in April of 2011,” said Verrengia. “My other sister, Mary, had a large growth on the left side of her thyroid. When they first biopsied it came back normal. And then they did a follow up visit and it came back positive for cancer. She had her surgery in June of 2011.”
“It caused a lot of nerves across the whole family,” shared Verrengia. “I was grateful to have found it when I did and encourage my family members to get this checked out. We all have daughters, too. Our mother also had her growth checked out in Boston and it came back negative the first time. She recently went back and her growth doubled in size and she is now going to have a full thyroidectomy.”
“It was weird how all of the sudden I was not yet a year through it, and one of my sisters found out on her 40th birthday she had it too,” Verrengia looks back. “The first thing she said to me was, ‘You were fine. You got through it I will be too.’ So I said, ‘I got through it. People prayed for me. I will be there for you.’ And then it became teamwork – encouraging my other sisters to get checked out, and going through it together. It definitely helped me to see the purpose for why I had it, because it helped the others realize they had it too. That’s the best thing that could have come out of this is we all had early detection. We all got to leave the surgeries with just the thyroid out, and nothing else spread. My sister Mary didn’t need radiation treatment.”
So what is Verrengia’s encouragement to everyone reading this?
“Be vigilant for yourself. Ask your doctor to draw your thyroid levels. If the levels are fine, but you know someone in your family has a thyroid problem, push for an ultrasound to see if there is something. From there talk with your family. Hopefully you can avoid any further risks. Genetics are strong in thyroid.”
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