Long before Becky Post was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), she began battling metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Beginning in the summer of 2012, Becky faced down numerous miscarriages and ongoing stomach issues. Her best friend’s encouragement led her to get in and see her doctor – which proved unhelpful, so she found a new doctor to meet with.
“She felt my neck and asked if anyone had ever said that my thyroid was enlarged, and it just snowballed from there,” Becky said.
An ultrasound and MRI were followed by multiple biopsies, ultimately leading to surgery.
“They essentially told me that if it’s a short surgery, it’ll last about five hours, and that means you have lymphoma. If it’s a 10-12 hour surgery, you have thyroid cancer,” Becky said. “When I woke up, I asked what time it was. They said it was 7:00 or 8:00pm, and I thought, ‘Oh good, I just have thyroid cancer.’ At the time, I didn’t want to do chemo and I didn’t want to lose all of my hair. But, two weeks later, it came back that I have MTC, which was devastating.”
Becky had just turned 32 years old when she received this news. Additional CT scans showed that the cancer had spread to her lungs, liver, and chest – but the reality of limited MTC treatments meant that it was still a ‘watch and wait’ situation.
Just nine months later, Becky found herself dealing with new symptoms.
“I was numb from the waist down for about six weeks, and I was having migraines, I was so tired, and my foot started cramping a lot,” she said. “It was just all odd – until they said it was MS.”
This news created an entirely new challenge for Becky: How to talk about this second chronic diagnosis?
“With the MTC, I was very open about it and I told everybody. But when I was diagnosed with MS, it was harder for me. I was very private about it,” she said. “It took me two or three years before I discussed the fact that I had MS with anyone other than my mom or my best friend. I had a second thing with no cure, and that was very hard; I had to learn to live with two diseases for the rest of my life.”
Through all of this, Becky continued to hold onto her dream of parenthood.
“I went to a specialist at the University of California Stanford, and he said to go live life. If you want to have a baby, go try, because you could live thirty years with this cancer,” she said. “I called my fertility doctors the next day, did intrauterine insemination on Christmas Eve, and I had my first son the following September.”
As her son began to grow up, Becky realized that significant lifestyle changes needed to happen so that she could be the type of parent she wanted to be. At the time, she was doing daily injections to manage her MS, and knew that a wheelchair was on the horizon if serious changes didn’t happen.
After a naturopath recommended she began following the paleo diet – which consists of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds – Becky decided to give it a chance. She’s eaten paleo since 2016 and hasn’t looked back since.
“It transformed my life. Within six months, I quit taking my MS injections,” she said. “I lost about forty pounds just changing my nutrition, and my fatigue got better, too. I’ve also started strength training since then, and that has helped my balance a lot.”
In addition to changing her personal health, this decision also altered the course of Becky’s professional aspirations. Now mother to two sons, ages five and nine, she works as a registered autoimmune holistic nutritional specialist. Because of her own experience, she knows how hard it can be to make significant lifestyle shifts, so she encourages moderation and sustainable changes.
As she looks ahead to her own future, and that of other MTC and MS patients, Becky is hopeful.
“I was told I had five years to live with stage four MTC, and now I’m at ten years. Maybe I’m going to help increase those odds and give somebody else this hope,” she said. “Because people can have two major chronic conditions and still live full lives. Some days, you’re going to just lay in bed, and that is okay. But you get up the next day, and you can still live the life you want. Our lives are not over.”