The next installment of my scar project features the beautiful Shannon Newsome. I picked Shannon for this project because she has turned her experience with a cancer scare into something that can help other people. She has a scar across her neck that, instead of covering, she wears proudly for others to see and ask about. Scars, along with their stories, can be intimate things for people. We don’t want to feel vulnerable. No one wants to believe that we could potentially get cancer or that we could need to take synthetic hormones for the rest of our lives, but Shannon faced these challenges head on. She is bringing awareness to a subject that can get overlooked, and she is proud to wear her scars.
“I’ve had hyperthyroidism since my early 20’s, and at a regular checkup with my doctor they always feel your neck to see if there’s been any enlargements or anything and he felt that it was enlarged on one side. He sent me for an ultrasound and didn’t like the way the ultrasound looked, so they sent me for a biopsy. And the biopsy came back with Hürthle cell, and basically that means you don’t know until you take it out. It’s 50/50 might be cancer, might not be. So he said he wouldn’t take a chance on leaving it in there — that I should have it removed. So, that’s where I got my lovely scar from. I had my entire thyroid removed, which unfortunately means that I have to take synthetic hormones for the rest of my life. I have to take them. So it ended up not being cancerous, but, you know, I would rather not have it and know that it wasn’t cancer. But, that itself brings a whole ‘nother set of challenges, when you don’t have a thyroid anymore, and you’re living off of synthetic hormones, because it controls literally everything in your entire body,” Newsome said.
“The biggest struggle is trying to get your hormone levels at the right dose with your synthetic hormones. Basically when you don’t have enough, everything in your body slows down, and can cause you to be really emotional and your hair falls out, you gain weight, and you’re tired all the time. Fatigue is a big thing — your muscles ache. And if you’re taking too much, basically everything is the opposite. Everything is hyper. You can’t sleep, you’re jittery, you have anxiety. It was rough the first couple of months, trying to get things leveled out. That was the biggest challenge. And it’s still something, you have to constantly have blood work done and make sure you’re at the right dose.”
“After I got my stitches out, my doctor informed me that in order for the scar to heal properly, or you know, to look the best it could that I needed to stay out of the sun, for a year basically and to mainly keep it covered for the first six months, which was really hard for me to do because I live for the sun. The beach is my favorite thing, and the more I thought about it I wasn’t really concerned with how the scar was gonna look, because I don’t mind people when the look at it if they ask me about it. Because not a lot of people are aware of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer, so I like to use it as a tool to inform people that might not know. ‘Cause a lot of people suffer with it and they might not know that that’s what’s wrong with them.”
“I like to turn everything into something positive if I can, so it’s been a way for me to help inform other people and to really raise awareness about something that not a lot of people know about. So that’s the biggest victory that I have been able to make in the whole thing, is that luckily I’ve had good doctors and have not had it as rough as other people that I know, but along the way I’ve been able to help other people with it.”