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Back to Training after Thyroid Surgery

January 5th, 2017

Healthy, fit and active. These three words perfectly describe Charles Spencer. The 44-year-old Chattanooga native served 23 years in the Navy and competes in Ironman competitions. He’s married with three kids, and spends his time mentoring in the community, specifically through an organization called Mercy’s Door. 

“I had just completed an Ironman, and started doing additional training for an upcoming race. I was riding my bike down Brainerd Road when I started getting sick. I pulled into the Krispy Kreme parking lot, and someone there was kind enough to take me and my bike home,” remembers Charles. 

Later that afternoon, Charles was experiencing back spasms, and his sister told him that he had to go to the ER. As he remembers, they did all the normal blood tests and chest x-rays, and it was determined he needed a CT scan. The scan showed that he had large growth on his thyroid that was growing down into his chest, something that seemed impossible to Charles.

“The tumor was bigger than my heart, and it had made its own home down in my chest,” says Charles. “It was causing pressure on my chest, and it was the reason that I couldn’t get a full, deep breath. I just figured I was getting older, and I never suspected something so serious.” 

About a month later, Heath Giles, M.D., endocrine surgeon at University Surgical performed surgery on Charles to remove the tumor. He called in Dr. Rob Headrick, thoracic surgeon, to be on site in case they needed to open his chest. Because of the location of the tumor and its size, Charles condition did require an open procedure. 


A Quick REcovery

Charles’ previous physical condition was one definite benefit when it came to recovery. He’s back to working out and following his regular training schedule that includes running, biking and swimming. He now takes medicine to replace the hormones his body doesn’t produce since he no longer has his thyroid. That’s the only real change he’s experienced – even after going through such a serious procedure. 

“I feel 100 percent better after Dr. Giles worked his magic. It’s amazing to be able to run and go up and down stairs without getting lightheaded,” Charles says. “If it hadn’t been found and taken care of, who knows what could have happened to me.” 

Through it all, Charles remarks that Dr. Giles made a lasting impression on him – not only for his strong surgical skills, but also for the way he was treated through every stage of the process.

“Their professionalism – the whole team from the surgeon, to the residents and students – their bedside manner was excellent,” Charles says. “But even more importantly, Dr. Giles was straight to the point and answered all my questions. He gave me honest answers, but had so much empathy for what I was going through.”  

You can learn more about Dr. Giles by visiting his profile here. To schedule an appointment, call (423) 267-0466. 


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