Good morning, friends!
Sorry I've been a bit MIA, but as some of you know I've had a challenging week, health-wise. I didn't mention anything before because I like to keep this a happy place, but now that this unpleasant business is behind me (again) I feel comfortable talking about it openly.
I'm a cancer survivor - again!
I was 24 ten years ago when I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Because my disease had spread thoroughly throughout the lymph nodes of my neck, I had a bunch of very unpleasant surgeries and a huge dose of full body I-131 radiation which I refer to as "The Silkwood Experience." It was horrible, and none of it got rid of my illness 100%. Even though my type of cancer is considered one of the better ones to get because it is slow-growing, my particular cancer was aggressive.
Six or seven (I honestly stopped counting) painful surgeries (including two modified neck dissections - ew, right?) later, I was as done as I could be. My TG level never went to zero as it should have which meant that there were still some microscopic cells left in there that we couldn't find surgically or via imaging scans, and which were resistant to radiation. Good times.
So, I went on with my life and we waited for them to grow large enough to find. In those eight years I got married, bought a house, had two healthy babies, raised a dog, and changed jobs twice. And I had a good time doing it all! I went in for my blood work every six months and had my MRI/CT/PET scans every year as needed. I basically just went on living but knew that eventually the thyca would rear its ugly head and I'd have to have it taken care of when it did.
Last November, we found it! My blood level doubled and a routine ultrasound of my neck showed what the lab tech called a "non-worrisome cyst." Of course, I laughed when I got the report - there's no such thing as a non-worrisome cyst in MY neck! I went to see my new Endo, Dr. Long Duk Dong, and he sent me for a battery of imaging scans and did a fine needle biopsy. Lo' and behold, my "cyst" was actually a 2 cm lump o' cancer nestled up against my jugular vein on the left side of my neck.
I had it removed on Tuesday. The surgeon actually found two bad lumps when he went in, and because my blood level is still relatively low, we are all pretty sure (and hopeful!) that this was the LAST of the cancer that I've had for the past 12 years or so. Oddly enough, finding these tumors was a very good thing! I'm so relieved that they're out so I can go on living my life without a black cloud hanging over my head, waiting to rain on my parade.
I took this (fugly) before photo on Tuesday to remind myself that as long as I care for my skin as I always have (Neosporin, sunscreen, vitamin E, day and night lotion), my scars will fade again and eventually people will not even notice them. If you look closely you can see some of my scarring here, but many people who don't know that I had cancer don't even notice the scar that runs from ear to ear in a big "U" shape. This section of the scar has already been opened two times; this surgery makes three. Once the redness fades, I will resume my life as an under-cover cancer survivor.
I choose not to discuss it much. I've never been someone who wants or needs a lot of sympathy and I want to be known only as La Bev - goofy, funny, happy, kind, and smart. Ha ha, and modest too. ;)
So, there you have it - the scoop. I am feeling better every day, and not just because I took the whole week off from my crap job. My vocal cords are pretty pissed off about the monitor they placed on them during the surgery, so I don't have much of a voice at the moment but they tell me it will return. My excellent surgeon uses plastic surgery techniques and went in using an old scar, so I know my neck will heal up nicely. I've got an ample supply of vicodin and I'm not afraid to use it. I'm just staying home, staying quiet, watching (terrible) movies, and allowing myself to heal from the emotional and physical trauma I've been going through for these past few months.
Since November I admit that I've had moments of depression and I've felt kind of sorry for myself from time to time. I'm so grateful to all of my good friends and family for getting me through this again, for putting up with me when I'm difficult, and for respecting my desire to keep it on the down-low. My husband has stepped up these past couple of days - bringing me flowers, making me food, bearing the brunt of the child care, and giving me foot rubs. My friends have all expressed their love and concern for me and have tried to shield me from stress as best they can. They've (for the most part) overlooked any bad moods and unreasonable reactions I may have had. They've coddled me a bit, and I'm so grateful for them all.
And I'm grateful to you all for making me laugh and providing a distraction when I needed it! Thank you all. I'm a lucky gal.
This is probably the last I'll speak of my cancer at length, but I'm placing this ribbon on my sidebar. I'm not ashamed of it - it's nobody's fault, it's just my particular row to hoe. I just choose not to wallow in it if I can avoid it.
Last but not least, I hope I haven't rambled on too much during this post. My meds kicked in somewhere in here and I started to feel all warm and numb and groovy. I'd better sign off before I say anything really revealing or off-the-wall!
Much love, and here's to better days ahead!