Karen Smyers has competed as a professional triathlete for 30 years. In her lengthy career, she has won seven National and four World Championship titles, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships in 1995. Her victory at the short-course ITU Triathlon World Championship just 5 weeks later still earns her the distinction of being the only woman ever to win triathlon’s two most prestigious races in the same year.
In this episode, we hear Karen describe what the calls, ‘character building’ moments, including how she approached thyroid cancer in the midst of of preparing for the 2000 Olympics.
Other obstacles included a torn hamstring, being hit by a 18-wheeler, and a broken collar bone. Regardless of the obstacle, Karen was able to stay focused on and win the Pro National Ironman Championship.
At 42 and post thyroid cancer, Karen gave birth to her second child.
Listen to this episode and you will be inspired by Karen’s determination, perseverance, and approach to living life to the fullest. And, in some cases pushing boundaries and achieving what some would say not possible.
Currently, Karen shares her experience, optimism, and passion for racing as a coach, motivational speaker and co-director of the Lincoln Kids Triathlon. She is a 1983 graduate of Princeton University and lives in Lincoln, MA with daughter Jenna, son Casey, and husband and frequent training partner Michael King.
Contact: 11 Giles Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773 firstname.lastname@example.org www.karensmyers.com
This interview is a part of the lifestyle stories featured on the Doctor Thyroid podcast, an opportunity to hear from athletes and overachievers, and how they approach their diagnosis, surgery, and recovery.
In this case, we hear from Evan Simon, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Oregon State University. Evan was diagnosed with advanced Stage IV thyroid cancer, which resulted a 13 hour surgery. At the end of his surgery, Evan was told he would not be able to lift his hands overhead for 3 months, instead he broke the odds, taking him only 3 weeks.
Evan shares with us, his approach to first hearing the news, how he chose to share the news with his family, including his two young daughters, and what he did to speed his recovery. Evan will offer you tips to improve better your recovery, including physical rehabilitation and having an optimistic mindset.
During the interview, we also hear from special guest, Stasi Kasianchuk, MS, RD, Sports Dietitian at Oregon State University. Staci shares her experience in treating Evan through nutrition as a means to a better recovery, and improved lifestyle post-surgery.
University of Chicago Medicine researchers Briseis Aschebrook-Kilfoy, PhD, assistant research professor in epidemiology, and Raymon Grogan, MD, assistant professor of surgery lead the North American Thyroid Cancer Survivorship Study (NATCSS).
For their most recent research, Aschebrook-Kilfoy and Grogan recruited 1,174 thyroid cancer survivors – 89.9 percent female with an average age of 48
After treatment, thyroid cancer survivors face a lifetime of cancer surveillance and an anxiety-inducing high rate of recurrence, which could contribute to their findings.
"The goal of this study is to turn it into a long-term, longitudinal cohort," said Grogan, who hopes to develop a tool that physicians can use to assess the psychological wellbeing of thyroid cancer survivors. "But, there was no way to do that with thyroid cancer because no one had ever studied quality of life or psychology of thyroid cancer before.”
In this episode, we will explore:
The spiritual, social, psychological, and physical impacts of thyroid cancer. Some of the sometimes over-looked physical impacts include dry mouth, voice problems, dry eyes, dental problems, fatigue, dry skin, and hypoglycemia.
What happens to vocal cords after surgery? Even when not paralyzed, quality of voice is effected.
Often times, family members don't take treatment seriously. Society, healthcare professionals, and the media have minimized thyroid cancer, and in return has made patients feel minimized.
Anxiety about reoccurrence, RAI treatment, and self-concept, influence quality of life for thyroid cancer patients.
A 2011 study by Aschebrook-Kilfoy and Grogan found that thyroid cancer, which is most common in women, will double in incidence by 2019.
Dr. Jonas de Souza, Assistant Professor of Medicine, specializes in the treatment of head and neck cancer, including thyroid cancer at the University of Chicago.
Talking points of this episode:
What is the COST tool?
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research?
When is the best time to discuss costs with the thyroid cancer patient?
Who is most at risk of the increased financial burden of thyroid cancer?
How can a patient best prepare for the costs of thyroid cancer?
The COST tool for measuring the financial costs of thyroid cancer, http://www.facit.org/FACITOrg/Questionnaires