Thursday, January 28, 2010

A pain in the neck!

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!


Leanne said...

Oh, Bev! I'm glad you posted this. I knew something was going on, but I understand your keeping it to yourself. I don't like the sympathy/pity stuff either. I know I'm only a sporadic commenter (is that a word?), but I love you! Didn't I see something somewhere about you writing a book? Get on it! I want to read it!

Anonymous said...

So happy to hear that you are feeling good and that hubby is stepping up to the plate. You have been on my mind all week.

Hang in there and get some rest. Watch some trashy talk shows for me!

Love ya,

Heather said...

I'm glad to hear that you are cancer free! I hope that you don't ever ever ever have to deal with it again.

jennybean79 said...

I hope you have a speedy recovery and that you never, ever, ever have to worry about the six letter C word again!

calicobebop said...

Bless your heart! I'm so happy to hear that you are (hopefully) cancer free. Take good care of yourself and enjoy the mending time as much as it can be enjoy. Thank GOD you married such a thoughtful man - more foot rubs! :)

Elliott said...

Glad things went well, and I'm glad we'll have lots more Bev-time. If not for you, I could probably go to a wax museum without thinking impure thoughts. What fun would that be?

Cary said...

Bev vs. cancer? Please. No contest.

Glad you're okay, B. We love you.

Kate said...

I'm with Cary. Puh-leez...Bev is a superstar.

Bev said...

Leanne - Sporadically or not, I love hearing from you! Thank you so much for your kind words. Thank you for reading the blog, and thank you for wanting me to write a book! :) I'm workin' on it!

Kate - Oh, I'm all over the trashy talk shows, sistah! Thanks so much. Love ya back. xoxo

Heather - From your lips to god's ears! Never ever ever wanna do this again!!

Jenny - thank you!! I agree - not all swear words are 4 letters, are they?

Calico - Yes, I'm a lucky lady in the foot rub dept! Thanks so much, my friend.

Elliott - HA!! Yes, wax museums might be downright creepy if it weren't for us molesting them, right? Where's the fun in that? Lots more Bev time, comin' up!

Cary - Aww, thanks, my friend! Love you back!

Kate - You are so good for my ego. Thank you, girly! *muah*

Brooklyn ML said...

I am so glad to hear you are okay, again! I wondered what was going on, had a feeling...
I say milk the sympathy and the drugs as long as you can!

WV - litypho: Vietnamese pho for bookworms

Salt said...

BEV!!!! I was wondering where you went and was starting to get a little worried. I'm so glad that everything went smoothly and you are cancer free! This is such wonderful news. :)

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!! *MASSIVE INTERNET HUGS FOR YOU!*

Organic Meatbag said...

You poor thing,...I think I speak for everybody when I tell you that we are all passing on much love and well wishes to are a strong, strong woman, and I am proud to call you a friend :)

The Peach Tart said...

I had no idea. Thanks for sharing. My heart and prayers are with you. Hugs.

Heidi Renée said...

I was thinking good thoughts for you this week, even though I didn't know quite what for. I hope they got all that shit out, for good this time! And I, like everyone else, love you.

Frank Irwin said...

That's quite a story to spin just to explain away the marks on your neck left by one of your glittery young vampire boyfriends. :-)

But, just in case it's not, I'm glad you're all bettah!

onebadmamajama said...

I can't say much that hasn't already been said..but I will say I am glad you kicked cancer's ass yet again! Also, much love and prayers for you:)

Good thing you have plenty of drugs cause it's the only way to muddle through daytime tv!

Senorita said...

Thank you for sharing this. You are very brave, and I am glad this is behind you for now.

I had no idea that you were going through this, and admire your positive attitude and determination to kick cancer's ass.

Thanks for sharing again. I hope that if something like this ever happens to me that I will have the same attitude.

Elliott said...

Just a thought...when Halle Berry overcame a rough patch in her personal life, she celebrated by showing her boobs to the entire world.

Just sayin.

Bev said...

Brooklyn - Thanks, my dear! You know I'll be milking every drug they give me. Mmm, delicious vicodin.

Salt - I know, sorry I've dropped off the face of the earth! I promise to get back into the blogging swing of things ASAP. I've missed reading your hilarious blog!

OM - What a sweetie you are! Thank you!

PT - Many thanks to you to, my dear.

Heidi - Thank you for thinking good thoughts even before you knew what they were for. I love you right back! THANKS!

Franky - Yes, I love the vampire bite idea!! When my big scars were fresh and red I used to tell people it was a result of a "shark bite" when they asked. Shut 'em up but good!

OBMJ - You got that right! Daytime TV SUCKS! Even on drugs... it's terrible. Thanks for the good wishes!

Senorita - I appreciate your kind words, my friend! I have no doubt that you'd handle anything life throws at you with grace & style.

Elliott - HAHAHAHAHA!!! Nice try, ya goofball. Hmm... on 2nd thought, maybe that's not a bad idea. I could use the ego boost!

Frank Irwin said...

Listen to Elliott.

Nicolasa said...

Thank you so much for sharing. You sound so strong and brave and I admire that! Take care of yourself!

Lindsey Himmler said...

Wow! Brave girl. I hope you get to feeling better soon!

Mary said...

hugs and kisses and smooches and warm thoughts to glad you're better and oh so tough :)

Carol said...

So glad to hear you're on the road to recovery. Take all the pampering and foot rubs you can. I wish you the best...C.

Pam said...

You are so kick ass Bev that cancer should be afraid of you!

Oh, and I wouldn't be opposed to the boobage...hahahaha...

dogimo said...

To (terrible) movies, warm and groovy meds, and yes - better days:

Welcome back, La Bev!

raskal said...

I am so happy to read this update. How is your voice now? Is your pain getting any better?

I can't tell you how much I have thought of you this past week. I think you have handled yourself beyond gracefully - I think if I were going through what you were, I probably would have virtually covered the blogosphere with snot from my sniveling.

tons of hugs & love to you, Bev.

Jillinator said...

I can't say how much I'm happy that all went well and you're on the road to speedy recovery... if you see this this AM send me a quick text if you nwant me to drop fever pitch or the proposal on your doorknob on my way to work. I've got both of themm and if you haven't seen them I thought they were cute and better than daytime tv ;)

Jillinator said...

crap... how many n's in want?

Frank Irwin said...

Jillinator, the same as the number of m's in them. :-)

tracey said...

woohoo! glad to hear things are wrapping up - again. been praying for you. i have a friend in the middle of LID riht now - sucks. any hoo - glad things are finally getting better. enjoy the drugs & quiet time.

wv: goidner - one of them there things the doc took outta yer neck

Samsmama said...

Hahaha! Frank I was about to say the same thing!

Bev, you rock! So happy to hear that you are well. You're such a bad ass! Kind of like Chuck Norris. Suck it, cancer!

Melissa said...

So happy for you Bev! Take care of yourself and rest easy.

MtnMama said...

Bev, I can't believe I missed this post, of all of them! But then, I've had my head up my ass quite a bit lately.
I am so impressed by your spirit, and am so happy you are doing well! The world needs Bev in it! Sending you all kinds of happy thoughts and big hugs! Love you!

Laura said...

Wow Bev, what an ordeal for you and I'm so glad you have come out the other side of it!! Wishing you a good recovery and sending a few extra positive vibes your way. You are one tough cookie. :)