Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The light of Cheryl and thyroid cancer
Lumière de Cheryl is the color of thread from Carrie's Threads that I used to stitch this ornament. The purple color fabric is for general cancer awareness.
This is what I know about Cheryl. She had thyroid cancer and had to have virtually her entire neck reconstructed as a result. She lived several years after her surgery and even saw one of her son's get married. But the "fake" neck collapsed and she died as a result.
Thyroid cancer isn't talked about much, so here is a little bit of knowledge for you:
Thyroid cancer is a cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. In order to understand thyroid cancer, it helps to know about the normal structure and function of the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is under the Adam's apple in the front part of the neck. In most people, it cannot be seen or felt. It is butterfly shaped, with 2 lobes -- the right lobe and the left lobe -- joined by a narrow isthmus
The thyroid gland contains mainly 2 types of cells -- thyroid follicular cells and C cells (also called parafollicular cells).
The follicular cells use iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormone, which helps regulate a person's metabolism. Too much thyroid hormone (a condition called hyperthyroidism) can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat, trouble sleeping, nervousness, hunger, weight loss, and a feeling of being too warm. Too little hormone (called hypothyroidism) causes a person to slow down, feel tired, and gain weight. The amount of thyroid hormone released by the thyroid is regulated by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, which makes a substance called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
C cells (parafollicular cells) make calcitonin, a hormone that helps regulate how the body uses calcium.
Other, less common cells in the thyroid gland include immune system cells (lymphocytes) and supportive (stromal) cells.
Different cancers develop from each kind of cell. The differences are important because they affect how serious the cancer is and what type of treatment is needed.
Many types of tumors can develop in the thyroid gland. Most of these tumors are benign (non-cancerous). Others are malignant (cancerous), which means they can spread into nearby tissues and to other parts of the body.