I had thyroid cancer 2 years ago. My ENT told me that there are 4 types of thyroid cancer-2 are so deadly they aren’t diagnosed until the autopsy. Of the other two types, I had the more aggresive one (follicular). But even having the more aggresive type, I came out fine. Had my thyroid popped out, took my radioactive iodine, take my Synthroid every day and am living the dream. Okay, not so much with the last part, but my life is pretty normal. Even had a baby 3 months ago.
The worst part for me was the radioactive iodine. It made my neck swell up so that I looked like Fat Bastard, I lost my voice, my throat felt like I had the worst case of strep ever and I was sick to my stomach. This all passed after a week, but it was the worst week ever.
I have 2 small scars on my neck (one from the actual incision and one from the drainage tube), both of which get lighter every year. I was lucky that my ENT is also a board certified plastic surgeon, so the cuts he made were minimal and flow with my neck lines. (A little hard to explain, I guess, but he did a good job hiding the scars.)
One piece of advice I would give your friend is to look up and prepare ahead of time no-iodine recipes. She will have to go on a no-iodine diet for a couple of weeks before getting her radiation pill and won’t feel like messing with it after her thyroid is removed, trust me.