There aren't many people who can attribute their cancer diagnosis to a bad bought of bronchitis. Coughing doesn't cause cancer, but it was the catalyst for my visit to the doctor. That doctor found my cancer.
February of 2009 I had bronchitis that just wouldn't go away. I was on breathing treatments, cough medications, antibiotics, pain medications, and still miserable. It burned to breathe and my doctor had me coming back frequently because the bronchitis wasn't responding to treatment.
One time, after about a month of being sick, I was sitting on the examining table and my doctor was standing and listening to me breathing and she got a funny look on her face. She asked me if I had thyroid issues and I said "no" and she proceeded to ask me to swallow, over and over again as she watched and felt my neck.
The mass was quite visible (my primary tumor was 4.5cm/almost 2" and there were multiple tumors). My doctor was concerned.
Within two days of my doctor's discovery, my bronchitis was much better. I had my first neck ultrasound within a week, followed by another ultrasound and biopsy. Confirmation came a couple of weeks later.
The news did not come as a shock. The ultrasound pictures had been enough for the radiologists to be quite confidant of what they were seeing and the reassurance they gave was "if you have to have cancer, thyroid cancer is one of the better ones to have."
My mother in law had had thyroid cancer, which hadn't spread and was resolved very easily, so I was inclined to believe the doctors reassurance. It wasn't until later in the journey that I found out how far my cancer had spread and that things would not be so quick and easy for me.
By the time my biopsy results came in I had already figure out, by comparing my ultrasound pictures to pictures I found on the internet, what type of thyroid cancer I had. The pattern of calcification was classic. The pictures were clear and the biopsy was just a formality.
There is a Hebrew term hashgacha pratis which loosely translated means Divine Providence. It refers to God's supervision and governance of every action and aspect of the world in which we live.
The hashgacha pratis throughout my journey has been clear and has given me a lot of strength. Not only was my diagnosis divinely orchestrated but my support system and coping skills were put into place before my diagnosis was even made.