Sunday, June 17, 2012


Butterflies are loose in my belly.

Tomorrow morning are my appointments. First I meet with radiology to have the ultrasound of the compartments of my neck. They'll pay close attention to my lymph nodes to see if anything there looks suspect. If something does, they'll want to do a fine-needle-aspiration (FNA).

Today it hit me: I don't have to say yes to the biopsy. I'm nervous about the biopsy but I wouldn't say no just for that. However, I think they're going to have to really sell me on this whole "You need more needles in your neck when we already know you have cancer" thing. I'm starting to feel more like I need to be in charge of my care.

Here's my thinking: If something in my ultrasound makes the radiologist take pause, given that I already know I have cancer that will, if it hasn't already, go into my lymph nodes- wouldn't it be prudent to take out anything that looks worrisome? Why would we leave it in?

That seems to logical to make sense in a medical setting, if that makes any sense. Often the things that seem so obviously simple generally aren't. I wonder how often they ultrasound something that looks nefarious to find that they couldn't see anything wrong with it? That would be good information.

They probably should have scheduled a little more time with me than they probably did- they're really going to have to sell me on this whole thing if they think they need a biopsy.

All hoping is pointed toward my lymph nodes looking fine and them not needing anything from them, but I'm just too prepared for the alternative.

After those shenanigans I will meet my surgeon for the first time. My family practice doc recommended her and said that she's heard great things about her skills but that her patients love her. Now we're talking. Give me someone skilled, who loves what she does and makes people around her feel good. I think Randy and I will go over our questions again on the way there. There's a lot she won't be able to answer just because she won't probably be able to see my radiology report (maybe they can rush it? I don't know), but we can get the gist of it.

I've poked around a little online for some community and I'm finding some good ones. It really, really makes me feel less worried that I'm making a big deal out of nothing, or dramatizing this, when I read what other people are feeling, experiencing, and how they are processing it. I also see that I have a lot to learn, the learning curve isn't super steep I don't think but I really don't want my brain full of thyroid facts. I really don't.

I would so much rather just go along for the ride. I say that now- but man, learning a whole new body system while experiencing all of this cancer emotional roller coaster seems ridiculous. However, I also know that no one will advocate better for my care than me, and I need to be prepared to do that. I find that I absorb bits of info here and there by being a part of these communities and I can offer some encouragement and support and understanding even if I don't know exactly what people are going through. I've never been hypo or hyperthyroid, or had some sort of disease of my thyroid. I have had an excellent quality of life with my little thyroid and I'm genuinely sad to lose it.

There is one woman on one of the communities I'm on- she's in her upper 60's and she is just the picture of genuine care and compassion for every person who is involved there. She is very knowledgeable but the most profound thing I've seen her say, time and again, is how grateful she is every day when she takes her thyroid replacement medication. Grateful.

She's alive, and feeling well. She lives in a time when thyroid replacement isn't a complex thing to accomplish, it's very safe and well studied. She's grateful to be taking her meds every day.

What a whopper that was when I read it. I do not struggle with gratitude, I'm pretty quick to be swept away by it honestly. I'm grateful to get to experience cancer in this way- surrounded by so many people who are supportive and who love me, with a cancer that is easily treated, and with hopefully not too big a change in my quality of life. Still, gratitude for my medication, it's like a happy pill every day!

I am so deeply inspired by that and I know that I will integrate her wisdom into my experience too.

I am grateful to have an endocrinologist that I like, who listens and sees me as an individual.
I am grateful to have been recommended a surgeon who was available for my surgery!
I'm grateful to have drawn skilled people around me who seem to like what they do.
I'm grateful that Randy's job allows him to work from home when he needs to, that he won't have to miss work to care for me and that he has the flexibility he needs to take time off if needed.
I'm grateful for the support that his job has shown us.
I'm grateful to my friends for checking in with me and sending me love, showing up for m dinner and my fundraisers and asking me how I'm doing. It means a lot.
I'm so very, very grateful for good health insurance.
I'm grateful for my husband who inspires me to never give up- that I can take breaks, but I must keep on moving forward. Who, when I say, "I need to get my eating under control and start some kind of exercise routine," says, "I'll do it with you." (Words do not capture the depth of my love for this man - he who has taken me in his arms and been a safe place for me to fall apart since I was 14 years old.)

I could go on and on, and I just want to thank this woman who might never see it for telling her truth and letting me share it.

I need to go to bed, it's an early morning tomorrow! I have to get up in 6 hours to get ready, get the girl off to a friend's at 5:30-5:45am or so, and hustle up to the ferry and hope we beat the commuters.

I think I'll get to schedule my surgery tomorrow. Wow.

1 comment:

  1. I hope it's going well. I've been thinking of you all morning.