My Experience with Thyroid Cancer

All of us have low points in our lives. Times of tribulation that we often think what did we do to deserve this? How much more can we take? Will there ever be an end to this misery? Where is that light at the end of the tunnel that everyone keeps harping about?Yes, all of us have been there and, hopefully, only once in our lives. All of us have different reasons for being there. Divorce can be the reason to feel you're at the end of your rope. I had thought that at one point. When my husband and I separated for nearly two years, it was a very low point in my life. But, it wasn't the worst point in my life. Although at the time, I was absolutely positive it was.

The incident that brought me to my lowest point was cancer. After plodding through the separation with my husband, and believing that the worst was over in our lives. One day I turned the corner, ignorant to all that was before me, and there it was – Cancer. All of the information available about cancer and I don't remember anything addressing how you feel or how to face that first day. Shock, terror, fear and why did this happen to me? What did I do to bring this upon myself? Well, those were the first thoughts that went through my mind. Okay? Life was already complicated. Could I handle anything else? That feeling in the pit of your stomach that doesn't go away, that wrings you dry. There is an intense desire for more information, that you really don't want to know anyway. How do I pull this off? How will my husband and I do this? Will it cause further damage to our already dented relationship?

One would think that when a physician tells you that you have cancer the wheels would start to turn very rapidly. That "everyone" would want to get this malignancy out of you quickly. Now that's a laugh! From the point of being told I had cancer, to the first appointment with the Endocrinologist was nearly six weeks. Six weeks of waiting to get the dreaded information of what kind of cancer. How far had the cancer spread? What type of treatment was going to be necessary? Alright, I had thyroid cancer. This type of cancer is suppose to be the "best" type of cancer to have, if you must. That was the good news. Now, the bad news, I had the fastest moving type of cancer possible. Sort of a double entendre isn't it? The physician was guessing that I had carried this cancer for several years, had I waited much longer, they couldn't have helped me. Many tests later and be prepared to share most of your blood with the technician. There will be cat scans, x-rays, and body scans. At least, that is what happened to me.

All the tests were complete. It was determined that I definitely had thyroid cancer. The cancer had wrapped itself around my thyroid and, perhaps, spread a little further. Only the surgeon would determine that, for sure. Did I mention that was another appointment? Yes, one physician delivered the news. Another physician did the workup and all the tests. Then, yet another physician, the actual surgeon performs the surgery. Whew! So, this takes us from August of 2007, to late January 2008 before they perform the actual surgery. Looking back on it, it's kind of funny. Believe me when I say it wasn't at the time. There was total frustration on how the long the whole process took. Why did it take so long? I was so terrified and the longer it took, the higher the fear grew.

The day of the surgery, it took about two hours for the total process. The surgeon visited to impart the final diagnosis of how far the cancer had spread. He had removed one lymph node in my neck and a "tiny bit" of a vocal chord, along with the thyroid and para-thyroids. My voice sounds gravelly sometimes, thanks to the surgery, kind of a puny thing to complain about though. So, my question to the surgeon was, did you remove all of it? By the way, no Dr. will commit to saying they got all of the cancer because they cannot absolutely verify that. I wanted to hear those words. I was desperate to hear those words. Don't all the commercials and articles indicate that "such and such a person has been cancer free for five years?" Well, I wanted that guarantee, too. It didn't happen and never will. I was left with an empty feeling that this was not the only visit by cancer that I would have, since no one could guarantee that the cancer was totally gone.

Six months after surgery and all is well. There are times that my voice is still kind of shaky, but I can live with that. No pun intended. I do appreciate each day more than I use to. There is medication that I need to take each day for the rest of my life and, a few quirks that go along with cancer surgery and treatment. But, that is for another article. Life is good and I have an intense desire to go out and do everything I've always wanted to and get together with our family, etc. I have learned to enjoy each day in a totally new light. There is a sense of accomplishment when one has made it through a difficult spell and cancer is definitely that. So, to everyone that has gone through or is going through your own, "low point," let me give you a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It comes from inside of you, or from a close friend, or from a caring family member. My close call made me more appreciative of what I have, reminded me of the love I had for others and made me more patient with life in general. That last point has really shocked those around me, as I am not usually a patient person.

I once heard a story, about 25 years ago, one of those long drawn out things. A great story overall, but one that just went on too long. But, there was one point in the story that really stuck with me and it was this. A river does not struggle to miss the rocks, dips and curves along the way. The river rushes headlong to meet every obstacle with exuberance. It doesn't try to avoid the turns, and troubles. The river flows around them, sometimes it is able to make a difference and move that rock an inch. Sometimes, the rock moves the river instead, pushes it beyond its normal boundaries. No arguments, no depression, no fighting over who does what, it just happens. This is what assisted me in getting through my "low point." I quit fighting it and wishing it wasn't there. Whatever happened, well, it just happened. I learned to embrace each day, to flow around the "rocks and valleys " then life can return the favor. To everyone who may be embarking on their own low point, embrace it, own it and flow with it. Then, at least, you can say that you gave it your best and was open for any opportunity.

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