Liz Hilton, diagnosed at 30

My life at 29 was pretty busy – my fiancé and I were planning our wedding, as well as building a house in another town and doing some of the work on the house ourselves.

I was exhausted, and feeling a new level of fatigue. I thought it was just my crazy life—working teachers’ hours plus planning a wedding and building a house.

My hands, wrists and fingers started falling asleep. I thought it was strange. I’d had carpal tunnel issues when I was younger, but this was different. I chalked up to cutting shingles, working with my hands more, and typing endless emails to figure out wedding coordination.

The numbness was still persisting a few days later and I decided I should get it checked out. I have a good relationship with my primary care physician, so I made an appointment and spoke to him about the tingling in my hands. The doctor couldn’t really say what was causing it, so he wanted to draw some blood and see if anything looked “off.”

“When I first noticed the tingling in my hands, I tried to make excuses. But a little voice in the back of my mind just kept saying ‘this isn’t normal for you’.”

Two days later, on a Friday at 5 p.m., the phone rang. The blood tests showed that my thyroid hormone levels were all out of whack. The doctor didn’t know for sure the cause, but wanted me to see an endocrinologist to investigate further.

When I met with the endocrinologist, she started by feeling my neck. She asked if anyone had ever told me I had a nodule on my thyroid, and I replied that no one had ever examined my thyroid.

We scheduled a scan to get more information about the nodule, and the results showed that it was large enough that we should take a biopsy. We scheduled surgery to remove the nodule and biopsy it. Half of my thyroid was removed, and tests came back positive for papillary cancer.

Luckily, we caught the cancer early enough that it hadn’t spread. I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation—once they removed the affected part of the thyroid, there was no other cancer.

Getting to the doctor quickly turned out to be a great thing for me. When I first noticed the tingling in my hands, I tried to make excuses. But a little voice in the back of my mind just kept saying “this isn’t normal for you”.

I told my fiancé about the symptom, and he agreed that since I’d never experienced the sensation before it was worth getting checked out. If a symptom is important enough to bring up with someone that cares about you, you should also bring it up to your doctor.

It would have been easy to ignore the symptom – that was the busiest and most stressful time of my life – but it is important to take care of yourself and pay attention to your health. Trust your instincts, use the 2-Week Rule, and work with your doctor to figure out health issues.


  • fatigue
  • unexplained numbness in hands