Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Today went really well. I did have a little cry when we were walking up that tunnel (pictured in a previous post). The last time I was there I was being wheeled down it, post surgery, newly without-cancer. The last time I'd walked up it, I thought I was going to my last needle biopsy before surgery so this little journey was fraught with heavy emotion. Randy folded me into his arms and said so confidently, "It's okay." I knew he knew it was, I trusted that, it felt just right. I was so, so glad he was with me. I had a moment to just cry for a second and I pulled myself together and we waited for my name to be called.

I laid on the ultrasound table and this fabulous tech- I can't remember his name, but he does all of the neck scans so he's VERY good - started my ultrasound. First I had to look to the left which meant I couldn't see the screen. I slept like crap last night so laying there with the regular click..click...click... of him snapping the photos (which meant that he wasn't seeing something scary because they were at regular intervals) and the hum of the machine, in the dark room, holding my husband's hand - I kept falling asleep. :) It was actually really nice to be so relaxed, and I was really reassured by how steadily forward things seemed to move as he scanned from my thyroid bed up behind my ear.

When I could finally watch the ultrasound it was interesting as ultrasounds are, but I'm not familiar with that anatomy so every little lump was an opportunity for him to start measuring- but he never did. They must have been lymph nodes, and boy, we have a lot of them! Guard those little suckers! He kept going and clicking and making comments to himself I couldn't hear but that didn't worry me, and I kept trying to watch, and kept nodding off... It took about 30 minutes or so I think. It didn't take long. When we finished he said, "I need to go look at the film but it all looks really good. I'll be right back." What I heard was, Your resolution is good, the quality of the film is good.

We waited a few minutes and he came back and explained that the radiologist would have to review it and then send results to my doctor but that we could find out probably in 2 days about the results, "...but like I said, everything looked really good."

Yeah!!! The tech probably was the person most qualified, next to the radiologist himself, to tell me that he didn't see anything worrisome. I normally wouldn't bank so much on a tech's opinion but this time he is probably the most expert person I could have asked for.

I left feeling happy and at ease- no traumas or difficulties today, thank you! While I was out getting groceries I got an email from my endocrinologist:

Hi Kristina,

The neck ultrasound results are back and it all looks good. The radiologist did not see any abnormal or suspicious appearing lymph nodes in the neck and no evidence of recurrent or residual disease from where the surgeon removed the thyroid. The results look good and the ultrasound can be rechecked in one year. Let me know of any questions about this.

Dr. S.

I had pulled over to get the email and as I eased back onto the road and came over the crest of a hill, there was a giant rainbow right there, smack! It was like the cherry on top. :)

Let's do it

Struggling with feeling very, very insecure about wanting someone to just think of me today, and feeling like such a big dork because it's 'just an ultrasound'. I feel torn, like I'm being a drama queen, and then laying in bed at night with anxiety thinking, how can one over dramatize cancer??

Today Eidie will go with a friend who will be her mama for the afternoon while I go turn back into the little girl that cancer breaks me into. The little girl who hugs her cancer-fighting cape and cries during the ultrasound because she's afraid they'll find something, and afraid they won't.

"Just" this. "Just" that. Just an ultrasound. Just thyroid cancer. Just surgery. Just a moment that completely shifts your life and you can never, ever get it back to the way it was, and now it has worked its tendrils through everything you do, everything you think. My period is 15 days long? Maybe there's a tumor in there. What is this lump in my neck? I was constipated today, maybe it's colon cancer.

NO joke. This is my life.

I will say that I no longer have the constant stream of thoughts of my death anymore. THANKFULLY. It actually stopped after I went to that group - which I've since decided I'm not going back to, at least not right now. But it feels good to not be constantly imagining what it will feel like when the oncoming car crashes headlong into mine, or what it will feel like to be ejected out of the vehicle,  or to have my heart stop while I'm sleeping. I had these thoughts hundreds or thousands of times a day.

I'm super, super super busy with work now and it's a double-edged-sword. I work a lot when I start to feel like things are a little too close. With the ultrasound today and my mother's birthday tomorrow- her first since she died- I'm a little on edge. I need a good hard cry and then I'll probably feel better but right now I feel tightly wound and sad around the edges of myself - but mostly I'm grateful to have so much to DO so that I don't have to BE with all of this.

I do feel like things are starting to feel like a new normal now- things feel new, but familiar again- and then I have days where it feels like someone threw me into deep water and I don't know which end is up, I don't know which way to swim. Sometimes I swim down, but mostly I shoot back up to the surface. I'm nothing if not resilient!

If they find something growing they may want to do a biopsy today. I think I will decline and say, "Cut that shit out." Why wait for results? Let's just get it out. If there's something NEW, it ain't good. I'd rather not have more biopsies.

Sick of it yet?

Are you sick of me yet? Sick of talking about cancer and sick of me bringing it up? Sick of me posting my link to Facebook so that someone can read my story- sick of me show boating about it? Sick of me whining about my little scar when people you love have died or suffered through chemo and amputations and hair loss and sickness?

Are you sick of hearing me cry because I'm scared about an ultrasound when it was 'just a little cancer'? Sick of it coming up in conversation? Sick of hearing about how my 2012 sucked? Sick of hearing me worry about every single time I have to go to the doctor and have something checked out, or my deep self-analysis into the 'why' I process the way I do?

Are you sick of my cancer?

I am too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Randy and I were driving down the road and he started saying something about my ultrasound "..on Tuesday..". I corrected him, no, my ultrasound is on the 23rd. The next thing I have to deal with is my mom's birthday on March 13, the first one since she died in October. I'm kind of focused on that right now.

No, he insisted, it's on Tuesday. I was worried he was right and I checked my calendar. When I saw that he was right, that the ultrasound is just a few days away, rather than weeks, that it happens the day before my mom's birthday, I burst into tears.

Randy was speechless for a few moments, and I was crying hard enough that I couldn't form words to try to tell him what was wrong. I wasn't really sure what was wrong, I just knew that suddenly I was freaking out a little bit.

I realized that I was trying to categorize the experiences again, that I could do one thing at a time. First I will deal with my mother's birthday, and then I will make space for this ultrasound. Hah!! Very funny.

So here we go again - another ultrasound. I find as I get closer to it I'm noticing more and more little funny things about how my neck feels. I found a lymph node in my neck that is hard and I wonder, has it always been like that? Should I ask them to look at it? Am I clearing my throat a lot? Is that pressure I feel?

So crazy, this journey. Nothing medical is ever just simple anymore. Now there is the potential for great big scary things to come bursting out of me, or needing to be shoved into me in some fashion. Now my body and heart know what it's like to hear the bad news, and I can't un-know it. So, I'll have my ultrasound on Tuesday. I'll wait impatiently and try not to second guess everything. I'll get the results. If there is something new, I will soldier on. If there is not, then I'll breathe out, until the next intake of breath when I have to go back to the doctor for some other thing.

Cancer Journey in Photos

My husband took these shots. Kind of holds the story in photographic bullet points. 

And so it begins. Standing at the top of the hallway, the journey of discovery and treatment still ahead of me.
This was taken at Group Health Capital Hill.
One ultrasound where we found a tumor (Feb 17, 2012), two needle biopsies, a lot of crying
and a little bit of hysterics later, we find out definitively that it's cancer on May 23, 2012.
Taken at Group Health Tacoma Medical Center.
When I'm afraid (and I was totally terrified in this photo), I close my eyes and pray that I will become a tree.
That my roots will reach deeply into the Source and Center, that my trunk will hold me up and flex in the wind,
and that my branches will see far visions of what I can't see anchored to the ground.
I thought I would be so nervous about the surgery and I was super relaxed that day.
 I surprised myself. June 22, 2012.
Surgery time! That's my ID number so that Randy could
watch the screen and see my surgery progress. Very cool.

There I am, Dr. Harper's patient. 
Not having cancer is WAY sexier than having cancer!
Dr. Amy Harper from GHC, my awesome surgeon. She was fantastic.
She came to check on me but I was completely out of it.

It didn't take too long for me to feel well enough to sit up a bit and even eat.
It was slow healing, six weeks without a voice, but I still made sure I was heard. ;)
The next day, we went home. I thought they were crazy to let me go so soon.
We stopped on the way home and had the best Pho, so healing.
My nose ring was an unfortunate casualty.

Surgery to remove cancer: complete.
Thanks to my amazing husband for taking these shots and documenting the journey. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Another interesting nugget, I realized.. I say that I am 'cured' and that is not true. I am in remission. I have feelings about that. I just don't really know what they are yet.


I sat down at my computer this morning and one of the messages that popped up was an RIP for someone I went to high school with- I was friends with her husband back then, when we were kids, too. She died of breast cancer.

When I saw the message thread I was thrown back into a dream that I had this morning that I'd forgotten as soon as my eyes opened.

I'm laying on an exam table having a physical from my warm, kind, connected physician. There is intimacy between us, we are on a first name basis, she is practical and honest and direct. She's palpating the lymph nodes in my groin, and hard. It hurts how much she's pressing down but I just breathe into my belly and wait for it to be over because I trust her and know she's looking thoroughly.

She pauses.

"There's a node, right there." She presses on it. I can't feel it but in my mind I can imagine the hard marble under her finger tips, being worked back and forth as she palpates it.

I feel myself pop out of my body. In my head, I say, "FUCK." Out loud, I say, "Great." And I smile.

She keeps pressing down and my brain goes to where we're going next... needle aspiration, will that be painful? How much pain medication can I get? She interrupts my thoughts -

"There's another one."

Now I say it out loud. "FUCK." She's looking at me knowing that I know what this probably means, given my 'cancer history', she's looking at me with love in her heart and a physician's planning mind- what tests do we run, what treatment would we consider- and I lay on the table focused on the two little invaders that will completely shift my life, again.

Then I woke up, rested and relishing in a long night's sleep, and forgot the entire dream.