Karen reminds us to check our necks

To mark thyroid cancer awareness month, which runs in September, Karen Gribbon wants to help Cancer Focus NI raise the profile of the rare disease by telling her story.

For signs and symptoms, and other links click here

Karen Gribbon (40) and husband Conor (41) have three daughters, Rachel (10), Molly (6) and Lara (3). They’d never heard of thyroid cancer until she was diagnosed in March 2012 and Karen believes strongly that more awareness is needed. As part of thyroid cancer awareness month she urges everyone to regularly ‘check your neck’.

Karen Gribbon and Lara

Karen and Lara

“Thyroid cancer is rare –  the most common symptom is a painless lump or swelling in your neck. You might also get unexplained hoarseness, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and pain in your neck. If you are concerned about anything I’d urge you to see your doctor right away,” she said.

It was back in 2009 that Karen first went to her doctor with a small lump the size of a pea on her neck. It wasn’t until she was pregnant with Lara that the lump started to grow and after Lara was born it was decided to remove the goitre as a precaution, though biopsies indicated it was benign.

“My consultant said that the cyst had been so large, about the size of an orange, that that they had removed the right thyroid lobe completely. The cancer cells were inside the growth which had not been picked up by previous biopsies,” she explained.

“You could have knocked me down with a feather. I was totally overwhelmed by the news. It felt like I was in living in a dream, it wasn’t real, especially as I had been feeling fine.

“But I’m a pretty positive person and my first thoughts were for Conor and the children – I thought, I’m 37, I have a young family who need me, I just have to be okay.

“I try to make a positive out of the cancer, it can give you a new direction and focus in life. That’s my perspective on it.”

For Karen’s full story and more pictures click here




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