It’s that time of year, again!


12507381_10208508269691060_4783544318916625728_nIt is five years since I was diagnosed and then had my thyroid removed. The time from suspicious cells being found through the fine needle biopsy to the complete thyroidectomy, was only 7 weeks. Not a particularly long period of time in the grand scheme of things, but by all accounts in the reading and exploring about thyroid cancer that I’ve done, it’s lightening speed!

“Suspicious cells” became cancer only after the pathology report was returned from the lab: papillary carcinoma, follicular variant.

The report was handed to me by my surgeon at the follow-up appointment two weeks after surgery. My sister took me to the appointment because my husband was out of town. I think the fact that I was still trying different medications to normalize my thyroid levels, calcium level, and to simply have the energy to get out of bed, the “cancer” diagnosis didn’t really register for me. By the time I might have wrapped my brain around the fact that I had “cancer”, my life was turned upside down by three young grandchildren who came to live with us; and then I was back to work.

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Can’t even see the scar in the mirror any more!

There were other follow-up appointments and one treatment of radioactive iodine to make sure the cancer cells were obliterated. I continue to have an ultrasound of the thyroid bed done annually–not sure how long that will last, but I imagine its forever; as well as several appointments throughout the year with my endocrinologist to monitor medications and such.

 

Image result for CHECK YOUR NECK THYROID CANCER MIRRORSeptember is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Thyroid cancer is often referred to as “the good kind” of cancer to get. Perhaps because if it’s found early enough and treated correctly, there is a 100% chance of recovery. Not everyone however is “lucky” enough to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as I was; deaths from thyroid cancer hover at 2,000 every year.

My thank you today is for the reminder that the month of September provides for me, and all of you, that there is no “good kind of cancer”.  Take a few minutes this month to CHECK YOUR NECK!

World Thyroid Day 2014


Today is the 7th Annual World Thyroid Day, May 25, 2014. Established in 2008, World Thyroid Day highlights five major goals to:

World-Thyroid-Day-Graphic

(From the American Thyroid Association) The thyroid gland, butterfly-shaped and located in the middle of the lower neck, produces hormones that influence every cell, tissue and organ in the body. The thyroid hormones regulate the body’s metabolism—the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen—and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate.

I am one of the tens of millions of people who have been challenged with thyroid issues.  In 2012, I had my thyroid removed due to cancer.  Over the course of many posts in this blog, I’ve thanked doctors, nurses, techs, co-workers, friends and family members.  In honor of World Thyroid Day, check your neck, hug your family, and thank the ones who’ve helped you to be who you are today!

Cinco de Mayo = My Cancerversary


cake for cancer

Three years ago today, my thyroid–cancerous nodules and all, was removed.  During the “whole body scan” a few months later there were no errant tumor cells and the tumor marker in my blood work came back negative.  Throughout the last 266 days of blogging, I’ve thanked many of the people who had some role in my diagnosis, treatment, on-going care, as well as general support.  I’m sure I haven’t thanked everyone by name, that would be a huge task.  However, as my husband and I were talking about my cancerversary this morning I was reminded about one person who played a uniquely supportive role on May 5, 2011.

While my husband and mother sat waiting patiently, I’m sure trying to find something to talk about as a mother and son-in-law will do; there was someone keeping them updated on my progress.  I had no idea she was doing this, of course, and wasn’t told until a few days later (at least I don’t remember being told until days later).  It wasn’t a doctor or nurse that sat with my husband and mom, it was a technician from the O.R.  Apparently, she went in and out several times with news that things were going well and there was nothing to worry about.  While they would worry until they saw me in the recovery room, what a blessing it must have been for Steve and Mom to see a friendly face and calm voice.

My husband’s friend Dennis’ wife was that person three years ago.  Today, I’d like to thank Kelly Ford for doing what no one else really could that day.  Happy Cinco de Mayo, Kelly!

 Cancervesaries:

Because the Night


Are you a night owl or are you the early bird?

In an earlier post I wrote about the best time of day to get my work done; hands down, it’s 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. In fact, I get the most done between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, when the office is quiet and everyone else is ending their day. So, for this post I’ve decided to take a different approach.

In my 20’s I was a night owl, staying up late to watch the news, the late show, and the late, late show before dragging my bum out of bed to go to work. In my 30’s I’d figured out that maybe staying up all night was not the best way to move forward in my career or to stay healthy. Finally, in my 40’s I was in bed and asleep by 10:00 every night.

Layout 1On May 5th I’ll celebrate my third cancerversary; a term I found on one of the many cancer survivors pages. It will be three years since I had the surgery that removed my thyroid and the cancerous nodules that had taken up residence in it. Surgery on or around the neck is not something I would hope for anyone. It’s scary to wake up with an oxygen mask near your mouth and nose to help keep the breathing going. For more than several nights I had to sit up to sleep, otherwise it felt as though the air wouldn’t be able to get the air to my lungs.

Even four months after the surgery there would be nights that I’d wake up and not be able to right back to sleep. I’d get up somewhere around 3:00 am, make a cup of tea and toast, curl up on the couch and turn abc news nowon the TV. There isn’t too much on at that hour, even with the hundreds of channels available. Typically, I turned to the ABC News NOW show. The newscasters were fun and most of the stories of the weird and unbelievable variety. Strange, interesting and crazy facts spewed from the stereo speakers and have long since been forgotten.  

I found comfort in the dark, quiet night and the silly stories, it helped me to forget about what was going on the daylight hours.  Looking back today, I’m thankful for the television show that kept me company so many nights.

 These Bloggers write about surviving, too:

 

A Reception


reception windoHave you ever been to a doctor’s office, approached the reception desk, and felt as though you were imposing on the person behind the desk?  Especially if there is a glass partition between you and the person who’s meant to be greeting you.  Honestly, the time spent waiting your turn when a doc is running behind schedule can be difficult enough; having a cranky pants receptionist does not help.

I’m lucky.  For the most part, the doctors I see have efficient, kind and friendly front desk staff.  Even my GP’s office, with a waiting room always busting at the seams with patients, does a very good job of greeting and attending to the masses waiting to see the 4 docs or 2 physicians’ assistants.

The staff I’m most impressed with, by far, is in my endocrinologist’s office, most especially Melissa.  Like my primary care doc, this office is never empty.  I’ve had the first appointment of the day as well mid afternoon slots, and there is always a full house.  There is a bank of windows that separates the waiting room from the 6 assistants to the docs, each with a panel of glass that slides to one side so you can speak with them. 

Melissa is never cranky.  She greets everyone with the same light smile and quiet voice, as she slides the glass open; “Good to see you again, Kelly.  How have you been feeling?”  Hundreds of patients a week cycle through the burnt umber colored waiting room, and Melissa never fails to meet me with the same caring approach.  I feel tended to even when she calls me to follow-up on an appointment. Her patience is quite remarkable.

It can’t be easy managing impatient patients and demanding doctors.  The next time you go to a doctor’s appointment and you have the pleasure of dealing with someone like Melissa, thank him or her.  I do!

Waiting Rooms:

What’s Up Doc?!


I’ve thanked my endocrinologist before, but feel the need to do it again!  I meet with him every four months since my complete thyroidectomy in 2011, and will probably continue to see him with great regularity  for the rest of my life. Typically, I’ve been a compliant patient, answering the doc’s questions but never really asking any.

hot flashOf late, I’ve been searching and searching for an answer to why I don’t feel “good”.  I’m not saying I feel dreadful, but I know I could feel a whole lot better.  Part of me wonders if it’s that I don’t have a thyroid and am on a replacement hormones.  The other part of me wonders if it’s because I’m almost 51 years old.  My doc says, “You’ve got the double whammy, sorry.”  So reassuring, right?

I’ve been reading all kinds of articles and books to try to make sense of what could be causing this prolonged malaise.  I brought one of the books with me to my appointment today.  We smarter 1talked about so many things that I’d placed sticky notes on in the book.  Doc said he was more than happy to answer my questions, and was pleased to see that I had questions at all; so many patients don’t.  He did warn me though, to stay away from the books like the one I’d brought to the appointment; most of what’s out there is just to sell books with very little research to support it.

At the end of the half  hour appointment he lead me to his office and handed me a medical journal, pointed to the website associated with it, and said, “You’re smarter than those books, you need to be reading the real deal.  Call me if you have questions.”  I thanked him for his time–I know that spending the amount of time with me caused other patients to be waiting longer.  So, today’s thank you goes out to Dr. O, for being a great doc.

Check out this other blog about thyroid cancer:

Life Without A Thyroid

A thyroid cancer survival story

I HAD CANCER!?


On March 5, 2011 I heard:  “The biopsy showed suspicious cells, you have cancer.”

neck look
The scar from surgery is ALMOST invisible after two years!

wcdIt’s World Cancer Day,today.  In my session today with my counselor I opened with: “I had thyroid cancer!”  It’s only recently that life has allowed me the quiet space to consider what that means.  I’m coming to grips with the enormity of the statement and the condition; subsequent treatment for life without my thyroid.

Everything for me happened quickly, hardly time to think about being a cancer survivor. Now that my house is quiet and I sit with my own thoughts the words stick in my brain and sneak into the forefront of it more often than I’d really like them to.

Today’s thank you is to all cancer survivors who share their scars, stories and courage.