Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thyroid Cancer ~ My Journey

This post has nothing to do with scrapbooking, card making, or paper crafts. I am posting this to journal my thoughts and feelings, my story about my cancer.


“Cancer is not a battle that we win or lose. It is not our fault or a sign of weakness. We are not responsible for our cancer outcomes. The crapshoot of cancer and recurrence can NOT be controlled. Celebrate yourself for each time you, despite all the trauma of cancer, treatment, and the mindset of “survivorship”, choose to love, live, lust, laugh… We are not a success story based on our cancer progression or not. We succeed when we are courageous enough to keep walking forward even with missing parts, severe pain, addled brains, and broken hearts.”  ~Dr. Erica D. Bernstein
 

Those profound words by Dr. Bernstein really hit home with me. It was October 21, 2011 when I found out I had thyroid cancer. 
You never forget the initial day and place when you hear you have cancer for the first time.  
As anyone with cancer or in remission, you are always brought back to the initial fear and racing thoughts.

I have the aggressive variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma called Tall Cell.


It is shown to have a more aggressive behavior that other papillary cancers. Prognosis is poor because these Tall Cell tumors represent high local recurrence and suggest the necessity for aggressive treatment.


I was staged at mpT3 pN1a pMX or more simply 4A. 

This means that I had multiple tumors that one or more was larger than 4cm and had grown outside of the thyroid, and has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissue. 
The tissue that was involved and had to be removed was my 'muscle strap' in the neck and 1 parathyroid. 

The parathyroid regulates calcium and phosporous levels in your body. I now have to take calcium supplements daily. If I miss any doses I experience tingling sensations in my fingers and or face.


I had the initial high dose of radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) in February 2012, 3 months after surgery. About 6 months after, my saliva gland started to swell and become painful intermittently. I was told it is a side effect from the RAI and I might always have that problem.


I need to receive tracer (smaller) doses of RAI annually for the next 4 years. I had the first tracer dose last week. The preparation prior to receiving RAI is not pleasant. 


This means being on a low iodine diet for 10 days. No dairy products, no store bought bread, no fish, no beans, nothing that contains salt or soy. 

The worst part for me was the two Thyrogen injections. I experienced extreme physical weakness, nausea, deep bone pains. 

There are times when I want to 'throw in the towel' and give up. The daily fatigue gets in the way of even simple chores. But I am a fighter and a rebel.



What Cancer Cannot Do

It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot shut out memories
It cannot destroy confidence
It cannot silence courage
It cannot reduce eternal life
It cannot quench the spirit
It cannot corrode faith



I am grateful for the chance, once again, to what matters most in life. It made me aware of how strong of a woman I can be.

I can...
I will...
End of story.

4 comments:

  1. This was great Cindy. I'm sure it will be an inspiration for others going through this trauma. I liked the quotes you included too. Now, go butter your bread and enjoy it!

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  2. I'm so glad you blogged about this....it's a great inspiration for all. Yes, you are a fighter and a rebel!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Tracy....I'll keep on fighting and rebelling!

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