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Profile: Michelle Hagen

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Michelle Hagen was just 28 years old when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Unfortunately, she had a lump in her neck for three years prior to that which was never correctly diagnosed. Finally, Michelle scheduled a needle biopsy. One week later, on her first day of work at a new job, Michelle's doctor called to inform her that she had a malignancy and needed to have her thyroid gland removed.

After the surgery, Michelle was treated with radioactive iodine to make sure all of the cancer was gone. Since the thyroid hormone regulates many of the body's functions, the treatment causes symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, memory loss and depression. Also, the radioactive iodine results in the patient herself becoming radioactive, so Michelle had to be quarantined for five days. Nauseous and exhausted, she spent the time alone in bed to avoid contaminating anyone. After the five day treatment was completed, everything she had touched had to be taken back to the hospital for decontamination.

Besides her wonderfully supportive husband Claude and family and friends, Michelle was also helped by the boys and girls in the classes she teaches at church. They sent cards and encouraged her every step of the way.

Once her treatment was completed her doctor advised her not to try to conceive for a year, so her body could rid itself of the radiation. He also warned that the radiation would probably affect her ovulation. Just a little over a year after the treatment was completed her mother-in-law became very ill. She told Michelle, "I'm going to heaven and when I get there, I'm going to pick out a beautiful baby for you." Exactly three weeks after her mother-in-law passed away, Michelle learned she was pregnant. She was truly amazed because throughout her eight year marriage she had never been able to conceive. Nine months later, Katherine Mary was born. She is "a piece of heaven" and a living miracle to Michelle and Claude.

More than two years have passed since Michelle's original diagnosis and she feels great. She will have to take synthetic thyroid hormones for the rest of her life; but, the important things is that they work. Her advice to others in treatment for cancer is to appreciate every moment and laugh every opportunity you have. Watch only funny T.V. shows and only go to funny movies, if that helps. She believes that laughter, along with good doctors and the love of family and friends, is truly curative.

Para solicitar información en español, llame al 1-800-ACS-2345. Un especialista en información sobre el cáncer le asistirá en español.

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