Patient Stories

Randy's Thyroid Cancer Survivor Story

Jul. 27, 2023

Randy's courageous fight against thyroid cancer: From overcoming COVID-19 to facing surgery and voice loss, he finds hope and resilience with the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center.

When it comes to battling cancer, every patient's journey is unique—each riddled with challenges and triumphs. Randy overcame thyroid cancer, thanks to experts at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. From the available treatment options to the comprehensive support provided, Randy's experience serves as a guide for thyroid cancer patients seeking effective holistic care treatment.

The Start of Thyroid Cancer Patients' Journey: Diagnosis

"I was as healthy as a body can be, then I got COVID-19," Randy recalled shortly before his fifty-second birthday. "When you hear the words 'you have cancer’ it’s vastly different than what you maybe see," Randy shares.

During that time, Randy worked at UC Health in the Ambulatory Scheduling Department. He found solace in the supportive environment and medical care services available to him at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, especially with these experts being so close to home. The center is known for offering the most advanced cancer care in the region for treating thyroid cancer, lung cancer and many other highly specialized types of cancer.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Options

When confronted with a cancer diagnosis, determining a path forward can feel intimidating. While surgery is often the mainstay of treatment for thyroid cancer, patients may consider other options depending on the specific case. Radiation therapy and radioactive iodine therapy are two additional treatment modalities commonly used in conjunction with surgery. These therapies—both offered at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center—eliminate any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.

At the Cancer Center, a team of specialists employs a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, which involves a collaborative group of specialists who develop personalized treatment plans for all cancer patients—from seemingly basic diagnoses to the most complicated of cases. Randy's case is a testament to the comprehensive care offered at the Cancer Center, ensuring that patients receive the most effective treatment options available.

Thyroid Cancer Surgical Treatment

Thyroid cancer is a condition that affects the thyroid gland—a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck. Fortunately, thyroid cancer is highly treatable, especially when diagnosed early, and one of the primary treatment options for thyroid cancer is surgery.

Randy underwent surgery as part of his cancer treatment. The tumor was invading the nerve to the right vocal cord, such that the nerve had to be sacrificed and the tumor was shaved off his windpipe and swallowing tube

"I had some jitters going into the surgery, but I had total confidence in my doctor, Dr. Steward," Randy said.

Randy completely lost his voice at one point, and was in a lot of pain, but the dedicated team at the Cancer Center—including doctors, nurses, and physical therapists—was there the entire time, no matter his need, to help him navigate the process.

A guide for your journey

Embarking on any cancer treatment journey can be overwhelming—both physically and emotionally. However, with the right support and guidance, patients can navigate this challenging period more confidently.

"Nurse navigators at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center guided me through my diagnosis and treatment process. They helped me access crucial resources and provided emotional support during my journey," Randy remembered. These services extend to all patients facing cancer.

In addition to surgical treatment, the Cancer Center offers a comprehensive range of treatment options and access to clinical trials. These trials provided patients like Randy with the latest innovations in cancer care—coming directly from the on-campus labs directly to the patient bedside.

For Randy, thyroid cancer made it difficult to continue performing his job at UC Health.

"My job with UC Health was taking 80-90 calls daily. What was I going to do?" says Randy. Luckily, his UC Health team was there to provide guidance and support, significantly impacting Randy and his family's life.

"Because my right vocal cords were sacrificed, my speech therapist, Alexa Wells, and my oncologist, Dr. Jordan Kahrofa, recommended to Employee Health that I transfer from Ambulatory Access—where I was working on the phone to do PCP scheduling and registration. With the help of Haley Runion in Human Resources, I got transferred to the Pathology department as an Assistant Lab Tech, where I didn’t have to use my voice much at all"

Cancer specialties offering second opinion consultations

Seeking a second opinion can reassure thyroid cancer patients and ensure that the proposed treatment plan is the best course of action for everyone. The University of Cincinnati Cancer Center recognizes the importance of second opinions and offers specialized consultations for patients seeking additional expert perspectives.

Randy benefited from the Cancer Center's commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration. The center's expert oncologists and surgeons gave him valuable insights and a fresh perspective on his case, allowing him to make informed decisions about his treatment. The availability of second opinion consultations demonstrates the center's dedication to patient-centered care and ensuring the best possible outcomes.

Treatment and Support for the Whole Person

At the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, the focus extends beyond the physical aspects of treatment. Addressing the emotional, psychological, and social needs of patients is equally important in achieving successful outcomes. The Cancer Center addresses the comprehensive needs of all cancer patients through support groups, counseling services and integrative therapies.

Dr. Steward, MD, of UC Health's Ear, Nose, and Throat team, played an instrumental role in Randy's journey.

"University of Cincinnati Cancer Center is well equipped to deal with the more advanced cancer, like thyroid cancers, that need coordinated, multidisciplinary care with nationally recognized experts in thyroid cancer care," Dr. Steward said. "The Cancer Center also has experts in voice and swallowing therapy to rehabilitate patients to optimize their quality of life and mitigate the side effects of their treatment."

As Randy continues his thyroid cancer journey, as he transitions into survivorship, he remains hopeful and grateful for the support he's received at the Cancer Center.

"I am back working and adjusting to living life with new normal, thanks to UC Health and the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center," he said. He's looking forward to a healthier future and the opportunity to share his story with others facing the disease and similar challenges.

Find integrative cancer care at University of Cincinnati Cancer Center

University of Cincinnati Cancer Center offers world-class cancer care and support for patients, giving them hope in the face of a life-changing diagnosis. Randy's journey is just another example of the dedication and expertise of the center's staff and physicians and the transformative impact of their work.

As Randy continues his journey, he continually sings his praises for the doctors who have aided in his recovery.

"Thank you to Dr. Steward and his surgical, nursing and clerical teams; o Dr. Kahrofa, the oncology nurses and staff; to Dr.Yaqub, Dr. Janna, and their endocrinology team—Courtney Nagel, Joy Whetsel, Cierra Earls, Alyson Yate, and my AMB Access PCP Team—all of you helped get me through this, and I am so grateful."

For more information on University of Cincinnati Cancer Center treatment options, contact us at 513-585-UCCC.