Melissa Liceaga, diagnosed at 38

My life was busy – with 60-hour work weeks and two small boys, I didn’t have much time to take care of myself.

I went from being someone who could never nap to someone who could easily fall asleep on a hardwood floor. When I was pregnant the year before, I had my thyroid levels tested – but the tests came back normal.

My doctor told me that the fatigue, body aches, and “brain fog” I was experiencing were due to me being a working mom and that I just needed to find ways to relax. With no explanation from the tests or my doctor, I blamed my health changes on my hectic lifestyle and tried to carry on. I eventually decided to quit my demanding job, hopeful that the decrease in stress would decrease my symptoms, but three months later I was still fatigued and sore.

“I had to advocate for my health needs to finally get real answers from my doctors, despite the ‘normal’ test results.”

At my annual OB/GYN visit, my doctor noticed a lump on my neck and sent me to an endocrinologist for tests. Again the tests showed that my thyroid levels were normal, so the doctor ordered an ultrasound. I could tell from the way the technician’s demeanor changed as she looked at the screen that something was wrong. There were lumps on my thyroid that needed to be biopsied, but the next available appointment wasn’t for 3 weeks.

Tired of sacrificing my health and wanting answers sooner, I called the office every day to check for cancellations. About a week later I finally got an appointment for the biopsy, and eventually testing showed that tumors on both sides of my thyroid were cancerous. I had surgery to remove my thyroid, followed by radioactive iodine treatments that required a three-day isolation period and weeks of recovery.

In the year leading up my diagnosis, I blamed my lifestyle for the symptoms I was experiencing. I had to advocate for my health needs to finally get real answers from my doctors, despite the “normal” test results.

You are the only person who knows what is normal for you—if you experience any health changes that last longer than two weeks, go see a doctor. And find a healthcare provider who takes you and your symptoms seriously so that you are diagnosed and treated correctly.


  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • “brain fog”