Janeen's Journey: Finding clarity in life

Janeen's Journey: Finding clarity in life
Janeen's "battle scar" (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Janeen's "battle scar" (Source: WMC Action News 5)
"I've got to do traffic and make sure everyone gets home safely." (Source: WMC Action News 5)
"I've got to do traffic and make sure everyone gets home safely." (Source: WMC Action News 5)
'If you try listening every now and then, you may actually hear what's being said.' (Source: WMC Action News 5)
'If you try listening every now and then, you may actually hear what's being said.' (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Traffic Tracker Janeen Gordon missed 111 days of work. In that time, she turned to doctors, family, and God to help her get through.

"There were those mornings I had to talk to myself after the tears were still running down my face and running down my chest," Janeen said.

Janeen's been the calm voice during our morning and afternoon commutes, but a thyroid scare forced her to be silent. Looking back, Janeen sensed something was wrong.

"I was just like, 'I'll worry about that later. I have to go to work today. I've got to do traffic and make sure everybody gets home safely.'"

She was always tired.

"You know, the older we as women get, we blame it on not eating right or needing to exercise more, but I gained weight and I couldn't lose it."

A tingling in her arm; a lump in her throat. The impact on her quality of life finally forced her to the doctor's office.

"The thyroid gland tends to regulate your metabolism," Dr. Neal Beckford said.

Thyrod problems come in two forms: underactive and overactive.

Common Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are:

  • Weight gain
  • Feeling tired
  • Mental sluggishness
  • Infertility

Common symptoms of an overactive thyroid are:

  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Body heat
  • Racing heart

The most common issue Dr. Beckford sees is enlargement of the thyroid due to cancerous or non-cancerous tumors. It's a problem that Dr. Beckford said he sees more often in women than men.

It happens to people of all ages and races, but African Americans tend to wait longer to get tested. That means the problem has more time to advance and become more serious.

Medical therapy treats underactive thyroid problems, but overactive thyroid issues require radiation therapy or surgery to remove the whole gland.

Janeen had to have the surgery.

"My scar, it's my battle scar...it reminds me of what I've been through and where I'm going."

After surgery, Janeen was not in the clear. While the surgery made her healthier, it temporarily took away one of the things she must have to continue in her career.

"I woke up one morning at 3 and couldn't say a word. I have used this as my livelihood for 20-plus years," Janeen said. "I've recovered from divorce, I've recovered from the loss of a job, I've recovered from surgeries, but this was the most difficult because I couldn't speak anymore."

She said losing her voice was incredibly scary.

"When you wake up one day and you don't have a voice, fear starts to set in."

Janeen was off the air for 111 days. Thousands of viewers called, emailed, or contacted us on social media trying to learn what had happened to her.

She was recovering. She wanted to be on air more than anything, but she simply couldn't. So she had to find something else to do.

"I knew if my faith was stronger than the fear that was setting in, I would be able to get past this."

Janeen channeled her energy into getting better. She did hot yoga and Inferno Pilates; she met with experts and voice therapists; she changed her diet.

Click here to read Janeen's Journal, where she describes how she coped with being off air.

Janeen now eats out less and cooks more. Plus, she drinks a gallon of water every day.

Not only did she work on healthy living, she focused on maintaining healthy relationships.

"I rediscovered some of my family members," Janeen explained. "We started having family dinners that haven't been done since the 80s when my grandmother did them. It was a way of getting back in touch with myself, my family and my friends."

And it's her great grandmother's words that guided her through recovery.

"My great grandmother said something to me years ago. I've talked my whole life, my mother's a talker. We have women in my family who talk. She said, 'If you try listening every now and then, you may actually hear what's being said.'"

Janeen thinks this challenge in her life was God's way of helping her refocus.

"For the last three months--not being able to speak as much--I've gained clarity in my life," Janeen said. "To allow other people to see even when things don't go as you plan it, there is a plan that is in store for you that you could never imagine."

Janeen hopes all the Mid-Southerners who rooted for her body to recover will listen to their own bodies when the time comes.

"I think it's saying something to women. You have the husbands and children and family and work, but you have to take care of yourself."

If you're having any of the symptoms above, consult your doctor. Even if you're having different symptoms, it's a good idea to seek a medical expert. The earlier you can get help, the better chance you will have of getting healthy.

Click here for more information on thyroid problems from the American Thyroid Association.

As for Janeen, she's back on air and stronger than ever.

"Losing my voice has given me strength I never thought I had. Losing my voice allowed me to be the person I needed to be," Janeen said. "Believe it or not, it's the best thing that's happened to me."

You can watch Janeen weekday mornings on WMC Action News 5 starting at 5 and in the afternoons on WMC Action News 5 at 4.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.