Thyroid cancer survivor: Targeted therapy saved my life

I probably wouldn’t be here today if I’d accepted the standard treatment for my stage IV anaplastic thyroid cancer and stayed in San Diego for my cancer care. But I took my doctor’s advice and went to MD Anderson instead. My oncologist, Dr. Ramona Dadu, my surgeon, Dr. Mark Zafereo, and the Endocrine Center saved my life. They stepped out of the box to do something different for my thyroid cancer treatment — and it worked. I’ve been cancer-free since December 2017. My anaplastic thyroid cancer symptoms I showed no symptoms of thyroid cancer until June 2017, when I suddenly started having trouble swallowing. I went to my chiropractor, thinking I just needed an adjustment. But he felt all around my neck and told me to see a head and neck specialist. Something was growing there. The specialist performed a biopsy. It showed I had cancer, but he wasn’t sure what kind. A PET scan revealed spots of cancer throughout my neck, so it could have come from my esophagus, thyroid or salivary glands. The specialist removed more than a dozen lymph nodes from my neck on Aug. 17. They were all cancerous. But he wasn’t able to remove the largest growth because it was sitting right on top of my esophagus. He said his facility didn’t have the team for that and suggested I travel to MD Anderson. Genetic mutation leads to targeted therapy I took his advice and made an appointment at MD Anderson. After MD Anderson head and neck surgeon Dr. Randal Weber had done his own exam and reviewed all my scans and records, he...