The Record, a New Jersey newspaper, featured our ThyroidChange movement. The global attention from our Wall Street Journal mention caught the attention of reporter Nicole Levy. She wanted to know more about our international community especially since the petition was penned by a "New Jersey Housewife." Levy interviewed Michelle Bickford (ThyroidChange co-Founder and NJ resident), Dr. Ridha Arem (ThyroidChange supporter and well-known endocrinologist) and notable endocrinologists in the NJ area, Drs. Weisen and Cobin.
The feature article details how ThyroidChange was born from patient suffering. Bickford, like countless thyroid patients, believed that her lingering hypothyroid symptoms were not related to her "thyroid" because her TSH was normal, thanks to Synthroid, a T4-only thyroid medication that is most commonly prescribed. She was able to manage her symptoms until the stress of three pregnancies caused a "crash" which debilitated her. Her physicians suggested it was postpartum depression, yet she did not accept this diagnosis, and chose to research Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and treatment. She read how T4-only treatments had to be processed by her body and converted to T3 thyroid hormone, a process which could be impacted by many physiological stressors. Bickford realized that her body may have sufficient T4, but her symptoms revealed "Low T3 Syndrome." After 24 years of diagnosed thyroid disease, she discovered treatment options beyond T4-only. Bickford encountered many patients suffering similarly via social media and she wrote the petition in an effort to enumerate the gravity of the situation. Denise Rodriguez, a thyroid patient from TN who Michelle met online in a support forum, edited the petition and helped to guide its overwhelming success. Together, Denise and Michelle founded ThyroidChange knowing that thyroid patients were suffering and strength is in numbers. ThyroidChange, itself, is evidence that TSH-only lab testing and T4-only treatment is insufficient for many people and researchsupports our claims.
Dr. Ridha Arem tells Levy of thyroid patient suffering and the need for patient access to T4/T3 combination therapy. He endorses compounded, personalized amounts of T4 and T3 for the individual patient. His book published in 1999, Thyroid Solution, details post-thyroid physiology and how increasing numbers of patients need T3 hormone replacement therapy. Dr. Arem warns of the dangers of too much T3. The ThyroidChange community has found that, even 14 years after Dr. Arem's book was published, patients find difficulty accessing treatment options beyond T4-only. Personalized combination therapy is an option that most thyroid patients are denied.
Dr. Mark Wiesen, Chief of Endocrinology at Hackensack University Medical Center, explains how the symptoms of hypothyroidism are common. He suggests that a patient displaying symptoms just needs an adjustment of their T4 dose. Dr. Wiesen, sadly, seems to not be aware of the latest research suggesting that patients prefer combination therapy to T4-only treatment. We agree that hypothyroidism symptoms may appear "common" since thyroid hormone deficiency causes symptoms from head to toe. ThyroidChange has observed that patient experience demonstrates the relief of these "common" symptoms with the addition of T3 to their treatment regimen.
Dr. Rhoda Cobin, who co-authored the AACE/ATA treatment guidelines for hypothyroidism, calls natural thyroid extract impure which is commonly known as untrue in our community. The American Thyroid Association just posted this article which clearly states that natural thyroid is a viable treatment option and preferred by patients. The official website for Naturethroid, a brand of NTE, states the following: "All prescription thyroid medications, natural or synthetic, must adhere to stringent pharmaceutical standards and processes established by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and the FDA. Nature-Throid has never been recalled for inconsistent hormone levels, unlike many of the synthetic thyroid medications on the market today."
We are excited that our message is being heard. We cannot thank Nicole Levy or Elyse Toribio, reporters from The Record, enough for pursuing our story. Most endocrinologists seem to not understand the impact of hypothyroid symptoms on the individual patient. There is a diminished quality of life physically and mentally. The results can be debilitating. We believe that suffering due to low T3 levels in 2013 is unacceptable.
Each thyroid patient that is educated about ThyroidChange brings us closer to change. The patient, who was once unaware, will learn that TSH and T4-only treatment is insufficient for many and leaves lingering hypothyroid symptoms. These symptoms are alleviated in most patients with the addition of T3-containing treatments and lab testing beyond TSH. Patients do not have access to these treatments due to current guidelines worldwide which deter physicians from using research supported treatment options. We NEED large numbers to gain the credibility we deserve. We NEED to unite to demonstrate our suffering! WE NEED CHANGE!
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