I started this website in 2018 after working in the area of thyroid support and research for 20 years. My background is in education, and after having been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism) in 1998, and suffering for years with unrelenting symptoms, I joined a patient support organization in Melbourne called Thyroid Australia Ltd. At this time I was also writing a patient friendly book on Hypothyroidism, and working with specialists, in the hope of helping thyroid patients understand the basics of their condition, and how to recover and get their lives back again. In 2000 I joined the board of Thyroid Australia and began working in the area of support and research, and also contributed to educational material and seminars on thyroid disease. This allowed me access to thoroughly researched and medically approved information, and gave me the opportunity to speak with thousands of thyroid patients with varying conditions. It was a time of immerse learning and growing, and tapping into the heart beat of so many thyroid sufferers. It gave me much insight into the daily struggles of so many, and the uniqueness of every individual when it came to successes and failures. Ever since, my passion has not diminished, to see change when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid conditions, and to see the alleviation of the unnecessary suffering of so many. So my hope is that this website will bring encouragement, understanding and guidance, along with reliable, well researched and relevant information. Thyroid conditions should never be a life sentence. Take care, Robyn.
Robyn Koumourou, BA, DipEd Fine Arts
Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA.
For further support:
Thyroid Matters - Australia
A little more history, and why I started a Facebook support group
Let me introduce myself in a bit more detail.
I live in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne, Victoria. I am married with two amazing daughters, aged in their twenties. I studied at Melbourne Uni in the 80's, Art and Fine Arts, and then worked as a secondary school Art/History teacher in the 90's. It was after the birth of my second child that I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, after suffering with hypothyroid symptoms for many years. I was initially told it was postpartum blues, then CFS/ME and allergies, but when I became ridiculously debilitated my doctor finally discovered that I had an autoimmune thyroid disease and my gland was failing. It took a few years of trial and error to find the right type of thyroid hormone replacement that worked for me, and once fine tuning my dose, and correcting nutritional deficiencies, my symptoms gradually disappeared and I began to feel what 'normal' was like again.
I have been taking Natural Desiccated Thyroid (aka Armour Thyroid; Thyroid USP) for around 25 years and this has kept me well and virtually symptom free. It was my life saver many years ago when I did not respond to synthetic thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) and ended up extremely ill. T4 alone therapy is the standard treatment for most thyroid patients when they are initially diagnosed, but for so many, it has not been effective in relieving symptoms and they continue to struggle with underactive symptoms.
In the year 2000 I joined a thyroid patient support organisation, became a telephone counsellor, worked in their office and contributed to public seminars on thyroid disease. Becoming a board member also allowed me the privilege of having contact with many of the top Endocrinologists in Melbourne. I was able to pick their brains and learn so much from their teaching. During this time I was writing a patient friendly book on hypothyroidism, because I couldn't stand the thought of anyone else suffering and going through what I did. My book was launched in 2004 and was given the thumbs up from the medical profession. Unfortunately, my book did not contain a lot of information on alternative and natural therapies for thyroid disorders, as most Endocrinologists did not consider these as necessary or important. So I began researching again and writing articles to cover diet, nutrition and natural alternatives, as so many thyroid patients desired to know what they could do to enhance their healing and recovery, and whether or not they needed to be on medication for the rest of their lives.
By 2008, I chose to take a total break from working in the thyroid arena, as I needed to have some rest from the huge demand for assistance from thyroid patients world wide. This was a difficult decision because I knew how many people needed help and support, but had to leave it to my colleges. After 2 years of rest, I went and did studies in other areas and then went back into teaching for another 5 years. After retiring from teaching in 2018 I decided to follow my passion again for thyroid support, and created this website called Thyroid Matters, bringing together all the information I had acquired over the years into one place. Then in 2020, with Covid Lockdown, I discovered many thyroid support groups on Facebook, and was curious to find out how much had changed and advanced with thyroid protocols and treatments over the last 12 years. To my amazement, not much had changed when it came to doctors understanding the intricacies of thyroid disease, and knowing how to diagnose and manage their patients conditions optimally. So many patients were still being poorly treated and left either underactive or overactive, and told that their thyroid was now 'normal', despite significant signs and symptoms. However, what had improved was the availability of more integrative specialists, or functional medicine practitioners, who had a much better understanding of thyroid dysfunction, it's triggers, causes and cofactors, and how to treat these conditions more holistically, to encourage natural healing. This was an area greatly overlooked 20 years ago.
So, after talking to thousands upon thousands of thyroid patients over the years, hearing of their triumphs and failures, learning what has worked and what hasn't, supporting them in their battle to find a clear diagnosis and the correct treatment protocol, I have found that 'one size does not fit all'. Everyone is different, and a person's treatment regime will be as unique as they are. Every individual will need a multifaceted approach to bring their thyroid function and health back on track. Some patients will have transient forms of thyroid dysfunction which corrects itself over time. Some will have iodine deficiency or iodine-induced thyroid conditions. Many will have autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimoto's Thyroiditis or Graves' Disease. Some will have thyroid cancer, nodules or a multinodular goitre. Some will respond brilliantly to nutritional and dietary changes, or respond positively to complementary therapies and natural supplementation. Some will require more invasive treatments such as biopsies, RAI or surgery. Some will need medications or anti-thyroid drugs. Some will require thyroid hormone replacement for life, while others may be able to wean off their medication over time.
The good news is that thyroid conditions are treatable, and thyroid hormones can be restored and maintained at a healthy level, but it does take time, dedication and patience from both the doctor and patient. Despite many doctors thinking that thyroid disorders are easy to diagnose and easy to treat, thyroid dysfunction is complex and there is no quick fix. A magical pill approach does not work for most, as the root causes of thyroid issues need to be found and addressed appropriately. Thyroid conditions need to be taken seriously, investigated thoroughly, and diagnosed clearly. Patients need to be treated holistically and have their symptoms, along with blood tests, regularly monitored. If a doctor does not listen, or give you the time that you are paying him for, seek out a second opinion or find a thyroid friendly integrative specialist, functional medicine practitioner, or Endocrinologist. It is important to find a specialist who will work with you, and one who is willing to get to the root causes of your specific thyroid disorder and design a personally tailored treatment regime just for you.
Hopefully this provides more information and insight into who I am and why I have chosen to start this website and support group. My hope is that it will be a great encouragement and support for many thyroid patients, and a place where we can work through our health issues together, to take our lives back again and find the healing we require.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it has brought some comfort and relief, and you know you're in the right place.
Warm thoughts and gratitude to all of you,
This Website contains general information related to various medical conditions, their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Such information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice provided by a doctor, specialist, or other health care professional. Patients should not use the information on this site to make medical or lifestyle changes without first consulting with a medically trained professional.