healing auto immune disease #8 (a guest post by Claire Hooper!!)

Many of you who read this blog have auto-immune disease. Or know someone who has one of its gnarly manifestations (arthritis, Crohn’s, Lyme’s)…but as I’ve said since I posted my experience with hashimotos, the advice shared on this blog applies to everyone. Kids with AI are the canary down the mineshaft. We’re here to show you what happens if you don’t slow the fork down and look after yourself…

Anyway. Very excited. Comedian Claire Hooper has kindly written about her dalliance with her thyroid.


I love Claire. She has grace and elan and holds her own in a very male domain. Without being all “I’m a rare female around here” about it. I watch Good News Week mostly to see her do her breezy thing. I ESPECIALLY like it when Josh Thomas is on with her and they do the Big Sister/Little Brother shtick. Magic. So, Claire’s story:

I never experienced anything except very mild symptoms with my thyroid disease.

What happened to me was that I woke up one morning and noticed a lump in my neck.  I thought it had come up overnight but the endocrinologist I was referred to said it would have been developing over many years.

Mind you, that endocrinologist also said soy consumption had absolutely nothing to do with it, and even though I accepted that at the time, I’m fairly sure it was a contributing factor.  (I’d recently moved in with a boyfriend who had converted me to soy in my cereal and coffee.  I don’t touch the stuff now.)

I’m also ready to concede to my mother’s theory that my frantic lifestyle at the time (and resulting irregular sleep and poor diet) played a large part. Although how can you be sure that’s a cause rather than a symptom of the disease?

At the time doctors told me that I must get the entire thyroid removed.

They told me there would be a small risk to my voice, which was enough excuse for me to embark on a self-prescribed treatment that I call ‘ignoring it’.   As I said, my symptoms were mild to nil, so this was possible, provided I never looked at my neck in the mirror.

A disclaimer: I do not recommend this course of action for anyone else.  But I got really lucky.  In fact, I’m so glad I ignored it for as long as I did, or I would now be on medication for the rest of my life.

In the next six years, the only thing I did regarding the goitre was write a show about it and tour that show to Edinburgh.  But I didn’t pursue any other medical treatment.

That show – ‘OH’ – got a lot of attention, and basically won me a comedy agent, who got me a role on an ABC TV show…which gave my goitre just enough on-screen time to attract the attention of Beverley Garside at the Australian Thyroid Foundation.  She got in touch with the ABC and sent me to Prof Leigh Delbridge.  He’d operated on Kamahl, which was all I needed to hear.  (Perhaps I too could come out of surgery with a rich, velvety singing voice.) Best of all, Prof Delbridge didn’t want to take the whole thyroid, just the badly overgrown bit.

That surgery was in 2008.  Now, nearly two years on, I am medication free and my thyroid seems to be chugging along nicely.  It will always be a little on the large side, and there is scar tissue, and there’s always the risk of trouble down the line, but I feel really lucky.

I agree with Sarah when she talks about the lessons we learn from thyroid problems.  I needed to slow down and now I have. I exercise more gently, sleep for longer and pay better attention to the food I eat.  I laugh more as well.  It’s definitely made me happier, and I suspect a lot healthier as well.

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