In 2017, I went in for my yearly physical. I quietly congratulated myself for scheduling the appointment despite feeling perfectly fine. Much to my surprise, the doctor felt a lump in my throat and sent me to the ENT for an ultrasound. I was feeling fine, remember?
I was shocked when they found a 1.5″ thyroid nodule. I had never felt anything odd in my throat, or noticed anything protruding from my neck. 1.5" is almost a golf ball for Pete's sake! I went in for a needle biopsy the following week and discovered that the cells were abnormal/inconclusive. Additional cells were sent for genetic testing and a more definitive answer. Thankfully, the result came back benign and I was told to return in six months for another ultrasound.
Like I've said before, “Once you know better, you do better.” My nodule was benign, but what on earth was going on in my body to cause it to grow something like that in the first place?!
Until this point, I had never given my thyroid a second thought. It turns out, like essential oils, your thyroid does all the things, and I really wanted to keep mine inmy body.
I set out to learn all I could about my thyroid. One of the first articles I came across in my research was Inflammation - The Silent Thyroid Disruptor. In it, Dr. Rusco says, "The three main factors implicated in the chronic inflammatory process are: diet, gut health and chronic infections, although stress and toxins can play a role also."
Other articles I found interesting were:
- Reverse T3 Treatment Guide + How to "Flush" it Out of your Body and Start Feeling Better
- What to do if your TSH is "Normal" and You Are Anything But
- Do You Have Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's, or Both?
My plan of action was to decrease the inflammation in my body as much as possible. I had already removed gluten and most dairy from my diet years ago. I ate an organic diet whenever possible, avoided fast food, and didn’t drink soda, but I wanted to do more. I removed sugar, alcohol, artificial flavors (like my beloved flavored coffee), and alldairy from my diet. Basically, I removed the things I knewwere not good for me, but had chosen to overlook them in the past.
Next up, be more diligent about taking my daily probiotics + continue with my non-toxic lifestyle. I had long since tossed our toxic-cleaners, air-fresheners, etc. so that part was easy.
I was sure those changes would not only prevent the nodule from growing, but was very optimistic I could shrink it. After all, I didn't feel bad!
Then came my six month check up. Not only had my nodule not decreased in size, it had grown by almost 40%. My first thought was, “I could have been drinking wine and lattes this entire time!” Of course, I had to have another needle biopsy. The process was much the same this time, with one significant difference: The genetic testing showed a high likelihood of malignancy.
I was extremely frustrated. I had done everything I could think of to reduce inflammation in my body, to make good choices, and to be my healthiest self!
What else could be causing my thyroid issues?
I started doing more research, and that is when I started paying attention to endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors had always been something I knew were bad, but seemed less ominous than cancer causing chemicals. To me, they were like Doritos. Sure, I knew they were bad for me, but were they bad enough to stop eating (or in this case, using) them?
The answer is a resounding YES. Endocrine disruptors = HORMONE disruptors.
This article by Dr. Axe, "How Endocrine Disruptors Destroy Your Body," clearly (and terrifyingly) outlines the dangers of endocrine disruptors. "Research spanning the last 25 years implicates endocrine disruptors in many health problems, including male reproductive disorders, premature death, obesity and diabetes, neurological impacts, breast cancer, endometriosis, female reproductive disorders, immune disorders, liver cancer, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s symptoms, prostate cancer, and thyroid disorders."
I'm not going to lie. I went down the rabbit hole. There is so much information about endocrine disruptors available. The long and short of it is: these insidious, easily-overlooked chemicals are prolific in our environment.
I have made it my mission to increase endocrine disruptors awareness, and teach family and friends (and you) how to reduce your exposure. If I can help even one person avoid my thyroid issues, it will be worth it.
How can you reduce your exposure? I am going to tackle those one by one for you in separate posts, but for now read, "9 Ways to Avoid Hormone-Distrupting Chemicals."
As for me, I was lucky. Ten months after discovering my nodule, an outstanding surgeon removed half of my thyroid. I am grateful I did not need my entire thyroid removed. (I really didn't want to take prescription medication for the rest of my life.) It gets even better. My nodule, despite a 70% likelihood of malignancy, was not cancer! You could have knocked me down with a feather when I received the news.
The test results do not change my course of action. If fully intend to continue minimizing inflammation in my body, taking probiotics and antioxidants daily, and reducing my chemical exposure.
Once you know better, you do better.