POWER of PAISLEY: the New Symbol of Thyroid Awareness

Ask almost any person what a pink ribbon means – or any of the other thousands of pink-themed items in October of each year, including food products, merchandise, and even the NFL – and they will tell you it is about breast cancer.

Fighting breast cancer. Curing breast cancer. We know the ribbon itself is not what fights breast cancer—it is people uniting behind the symbol of the pink ribbon that creates the power to change. Thanks in large part to the pink campaign, you know about breast cancer. But, what have you heard about the thyroid? How much do you know about thyroid disease? Did you know more than 30 million Americans have thyroid disorders, yet more than half remain undiagnosed and untreated? Surprising to many, thyroid disease is more common than diabetes and heart disease. Thyroid disease is even more common than breast cancer. In fact, more Americans suffer from thyroid disease than all types of cancers combined.

What is a thyroid, and what happens when it is not working properly?

The thyroid is a small gland located in the base of the neck. It is shaped like a butterfly and produces thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are very important because they influence how all other bodily cells, tissues and organs function. For instance, your heart, brain, liver and kidney all depend on the correct amount of thyroid hormone to do their jobs properly

Thyroid dysfunction [dis-FUNK-shun] occurs when the thyroid produces either too much or too little thyroid hormone. This is a problem because it disrupts so many other functions in your body. If your thyroid is making too much hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism [hie-per-THIGH-roid-is-m]. Or, if it is producing too little hormone, you have hypothyroidism [hie-po-THIGH-roid-is-m]. Also, the thyroid can develop lumps called nodules. They’re usually not cancerous, but in some cases may be.

Knowing when your thyroid is not working properly may be difficult, which is one of the reasons so many cases remain undiagnosed. Symptoms may include fatigue, unexplained weight loss or gain, moodiness, and anxiety. Thyroid disease can affect anyone, but women are five times more likely than men to suffer, and a person’s risk increases with age.

The good news is that once a thyroid condition is identified it can be successfully treated. With proper treatment one can resume a healthy lifestyle without restrictions. Increasing awareness and understanding of thyroid dysfunction and its symptoms is the first step to being diagnosed. Our ultimate goal is that there will be no undiagnosed and untreated cases of thyroid dysfunction.

We welcome the blue paisley ribbon as the new symbol for thyroid awareness!

Will you become a thyroid advocate? It doesn’t take much, we promise, and it includes an attractive accessory. We are asking you to join the thyroid awareness campaign by proudly displaying the blue paisley ribbon. Paisley was chosen because of its resemblance to a cross section of thyroid follicles [FAH-lik-uhls], the tiny spheres that the thyroid gland is made up of. Wear a blue paisley ribbon during January, which is Thyroid Awareness Month. Or, you could simply wear paisley, be it a tie, scarf, blouse or skirt. After all, whose appearance doesn’t improve with a little punch of paisley?

Blue paisley probably won’t reach “pink” awareness levels overnight, but little by little we can spread the message of thyroid awareness. We want people to know what a thyroid is, to know it is important for the function of their bodies, and to know the common symptoms. Blue paisley gives thyroid advocates – including patients, endocrinologists [en-doh-cri-NA-lo-jists], families, friends and other medical providers – something to unite behind to spread a very important message

A new website dedicated to thyroid awareness is a great resource to learn more information. Visit www.ThyroidAwareness.com.

Perhaps you recently have been diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction, or maybe a friend or loved one has. We have designed a website to empower you with knowledge. Check out www.ThyroidAwareness.com to learn how your thyroid works, how to perform a “Thyroid Neck Check,” get answers to frequently asked questions, find the top ten facts about the thyroid, and learn about specific conditions and treatment options.

Final Word

We aren’t ready to claim that paisley is the new pink, but we are proud and excited to establish a symbol to unify thyroid awareness efforts. We hope you will join us and wear your blue paisley to share the thyroid message. Together, with the power of paisley, we can make progress toward the goal: that all thyroid disorders be properly diagnosed and treated.

Remember, if your thyroid isn’t working properly, neither are you!

Click here to visit the EmPower Store to order Thyroid Awareness materials and merchandise. Click here for Thyroid Awareness resources, including handouts and videos.