Cancer Survivor Jude E., Thank you for your story!

The Road Back from Thyroid Cancer

I was elated when I made it through Marine Corps bootcamp.  I’d worked out hard to get ready because I’m not particularly athletic, though I’ve always been active – jogging,martial arts, yoga, walking, swimming. At my best I ran an 8.5 minute mile.  But I made it through and did well. A year into the Marines I started to notice how much harder I had to train to maintain the standards, and not just compared to the men.  I worked out more than anyone in my platoon and ate better by far.  Earlier in life I’d been a vegan for 5 years, so I was used to eating very healthfully.

But no matter how much I trained, how healthy my lifestyle ,I seemed to be slowing down.  No matter how much I ran, the runs got harder.  No matter how much I exercised, I couldn’t get stronger.  At 28, I managed the first class standards only because I qualified as old for a Marine! It was after returning from deployment that I really started to wonder why I was having to work so hard with no results, and why I was so tired all the time. I didn’t know it then that my Thyroid was off.

Your thyroid is your body’s compass and regulator.  The hormones it releases affect nearly every part of your body – brain, muscles, hair, skin and metabolism.  If it’s underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormones, your body slows down and you have symptoms like fatigue, depression, weight gain, and more.  Without medication you’ll just slow down to nothing.  If it’s overactive and produces too much, you tend to lose weight, become hyperactive, can’t sleep, get the shakes, sweats and anxiety and the like. Needless to say, if this organ isn’t working correctly your whole body is off no matter how healthy your lifestyle.

It turned out that not only was my thyroid under active (called Hashimoto’s thyroid disease), but I had two forms of cancer, one in each gland.  The good thing about thyroid cancer is that it’s “the most survivable cancer.”  Yay! Another good thing is that chemo isn’t required, just surgery and ‘radioiodine ablation’ which is a type of radiation therapy.   Unfortunately it was not possible to remove the cancers without removing both thyroid glands, so there went my body’s compass, damaged as it was.

Bugger that a healthy lifestyle did nothing to curtail my odds, but I was very optimistic.  I’d survived the Marines, deployment, and more, I could surely come back from the most survivable cancer.   I was glad to have the support of my husband and family helping me through it.

Fast forward 4 years, last month I finished my inactive reserve status and have remained cancer free. YAY!  Getting the cancer out was just one leg up the hill as it turned out. Finding the balance of the right medication levels has been a real challenge and has taken years.   Creating a new balance after the Marines has had its own challenges, not the least of which is going from training most of the time to – ahhh!  A desk job. Don’t get me wrong, my job is good and I’m grateful I have it, but sitting at the desk you can keep!

These days my focus is on regaining strength and power, and a friend introduced me to Crossfit.   I’m a light-weight these days, but I figure I win if I complete what they tell me to do, just like boot camp only friendly! Here’s mud in your eye, Cancer!

Jude Eden

8 thoughts on “The road back from Thyroid Cancer

  1. Felice says:

    Jude, thank you for sharing your story. I remember when I did your intro class and I could tell that there was something special about you, and there definitely is! Your story is very inspiring and I am sure that you will continue to make gains in your life and push on. I get out of the Marine Corps in about a month! It will definitely be a change but an exciting adventure to a new chapter in my life. Anyways, welcome to the CFW family! We are happy to have you!

  2. t. says:

    Thank you for the write Jude.

    The huge rise in thyroid issues, both cancer and hypothyroidism, frustrate me greatly. I send young people (I urge ALL of you) to get thyroid panels done. So many panels come back with early signs of hypothyroidism. Non Hashimoto’s (autoimmune) hypothyroidism can be reversed with changes in diet and your environment.
    Jude’s signs and symptoms are typical, but the awareness of thyroid issues, in relation to the numbers of cases diagnosed each year, is ridiculous. I think it is because doctors feel hypothyroidism is so easily treated… with synthetic hormone that you will have to take for the rest of your life…. and like Jude mentioned, you will struggle to find the correct dosage for years.

    The causes can be directly linked to many of the popular “healthy” diets. Low fat diets (no animal fats or butter) with whole grains (systemic inflammation), devoid of red meat (no iron), and ofter substituting good foods with crap soy products are directly related to thyroid function. Soy is a grain and is the most sprayed crop in the world. Soy contains goitrogens, molecular compounds proven to cause hypothyroidism.

    To no fault of her own Jude was misled by bullshit hype. There is nothing healthy about vegetarianism or vegan. They are extreme forms of dieting. Humans are able to digest meat, in very large quantities, for a reason. WE NEED IT. Otherwise our digestive system would be like a deer’s or any other herbivore.

    Every vegan or vegetarian I’ve sent for blood work comes back mag and zinc deficient, iodine deficient, anemic, and had high fasting blood glucose levels (insulin resistance. They also tend to have high cholesterol from all the “healthy” vegetable oils the consume. I don’t want to get into the intestine’s intolerance of fibers. The bottom line, vegetarianism (think Stalin), and it’s extremely evil (Hitler) partner, vegan are UNHEALTHY.

    I mentioned butter earlier in the comment. Butter is the only decent source of iodine left in our modern diet. The thyroid must have iodine to function correctly. Butter was demonized by the grain industry and said to be unhealthy. There is nothing unhealthy about animal fats. Eat butter. Cook in butter. Stop being a lame ass and cooking in olive oil.

    The next step: Your environment… eliminate bromides and chlorine. Put filters on your tap and shower. Eliminate soft drinks (duh). Refer back to the article Melissa Hoff wrote for us two Sunday’s ago.

    If you are eating healthy (paleo quality, no sugar – don’t lie) but cannot drop the fat above your waste, go get a thyroid functions test. It will let us know if you thyroid is functioning well or not.

    Warning: It’ll also tell if you’re lying about the sugar and carbs.

  3. Scott S says:

    Jude, thanks for sharing. It is inspiring to hear your story and I hope to walk the Survivor’s Lap with you Friday night.

    t.- thanks for liberating us on so many diet issues. Pat and I love cooking lots of meat and putting butter on the veggies. And it isn’t all about weight loss. We have lost weight but more importantly we FEEL BETTER. We have more energy and just a better vibe in life.

  4. Jen S. says:

    Wow Jude! I had no idea what challenges you’ve faced and surmounted. I only knew that you are an incredibly driven, talented and extremely intelligent woman. Now I am even more impressed! Thank you so much for sharing your story. It will undoubtedly help shed light for many frustrated people. Keep up the great work in the gym!

  5. Jude says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments and support! Felice you were a great intro trainer and seeing you zip up the rope during the cross-fit games was truly inspirational!

    T. you are totally right on. I was vegan during college. I was working at a health food co-op and had read Diet For A New America and decided to try veganism. Someone close to me had grown up trying the different alternative diets and was like a walking encyclopedia on the subject, I read more and more and started to become more informed about what dairy, synthetic hormones found in meats and processef foods do to the body. I felt good, and when I tried eating some of the foods I used to eat, like cheese, it immediately made me feel tired and yuck, so I thought I’d stick with no animal products, nothing processed. I loved tofu and it wasn’t until after the cancer that I found out that, especially if you have an underactive thyroid, you need to avoid soy. Now because of all the information coming out about GMOs etc. people are more aware, but I did think I was leading a healthy lifestyle.

    This is the difficult thing about nutrition and health info. One day they’re telling you not to eat eggs because of cholesterol. Next you see the ‘incredible edible egg’ ads. They’re telling everyone to eat whole grains but gluten is a problem for many. A couple of years after college I just decided moderation was best for the food groups. Now my husband and I are working towards 100% Paleo – I say working towards because I’m not gonna lie! 😀

    A note on thyroid panels – I whole-heartedly agree with T about getting them – and the key is you need to get several over several months because one reading won’t give you an accurate sense of your thyroid levels because they fluctuate. If you’re doctor has you do one panel and says good-to-go, they’re not going to get accurate info.

    Thanks again for the love and support! See you in the gym!

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