A year ago I was having a normal day with my kids when I noticed a voicemail on my phone. That’s so weird, I didn’t even hear it ring. It was my ENT letting me know they had the results from a biopsy I had taken the week before, there was a cancellation and I could come in at 3 if I was available. This was at 2:00 with my two kids, plus the office wasn’t around the corner and rush hour.
I called them back and said I’d be there at 3 not wanting to wait two more days for the results. I called a friend asking if she could watch the kids during the appointment, she said of course. I rushed to get them into the car and dropped off, but as luck would have it the road to her house was closed and I didn’t have time to take a detour, drop them off and make the appointment so I raced to the office with both kids in tow.
I arrived with restless, unhappy children. I got my diagnosis: Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. I had cancer. Fuck. What does that mean? What’s the prognosis? What do we do? But all I said was, “OK.”
My kids fussed, Kat told me she didn’t like me and wanted to go home. I looked down at her with some tears escaping from my eyes and smiled, telling her we would leave soon. My husband arrived right then, racing to the office from work suspecting bad news since they didn’t tell me anything over the phone.
On the way home I called a friend to tell her and ask if they could have dinner there so I could go home to process for a little. She said of course. I dropped the kids off and met my husband at the house. I walked in, stood in my living room. Didn’t know what to do. What is a normal thing to do? Do I sit down on the couch? Do I check the dishes in the sink? Do I just lie on the floor here and melt into a puddle?
My husband walked in, we hugged while I cried for a minute or two. That was it. I have cancer. I Had cancer.
A year later and it still fills my thoughts daily, at some point. I had a thyroidectomy. I did RAI (radioactive iodine treatment). Life is still the same and in a cliché way, somehow not the same.
It’s like this weird life marker that I’m the same but different. Before marriage, after marriage. Before motherhood, after motherhood. Before cancer. After cancer.
My change is in a way I didn’t even notice until more recently, and I’m not even sure I can explain it. My social needs are different. I still think about my health a lot but as time goes on it’s not as anxiety inducing.
Maybe my perspective shifted during all the craziness this year, or it’s just that my kids are another year older. My kids still make me lose my mind at times, but I’m not nearly as close to tipping over my edge as I used to be.
I definitely don’t want Teflon in my house! (The Netflix documentary The Devil We Know terrified me, even before having cancer I would have been horrified). I avoid red meat since it’s a carcinogen.
Some people, seem so different afterwards. In a loud way. #fuckcancer Raising money and awareness for the cause, every moments of life is so much MORE, small things are just that and they don’t sweat it at all.
Am I doing this cancer survivor thing wrong?
Is that a weird feeling to have, is it a weird thing to question? Probably. This is my truth though. This is my cancer journey, and I’m grateful I get to keep going.
My energy has increased a lot since a year ago when I didn’t know I was sick. I still have a mid day dip, but I don’t have to take a nap EVERY day or even every week.
I’ve increased my workouts by 50%. Wow!
My scar is continuing to fade and my voice is almost as it was. Sometimes my voice is tired at the end of the day or can even sound/feel strained during the day. For the most part you wouldn’t know I had surgery on my throat.
My weight has stayed the same. I was sooo worried about this before the surgery and it’s been the biggest non-issue.
My bloodwork looks good, my T levels are where they should be and my medication and dosage was only adjusted a couple times before finding the current sweet spot.
If you feel you need help and/or support with your cancer journey there is NO reason to feel embarrassed, guilty, or afraid. It’s a lot for you, it’s a lot for friends and family members. Ask your doctor for resources, there are many. I found reading other people’s experiences helped, but there’s also entire sites dedicated to support, here’s just one of many. Wether your cancer journey is short or long, extensive or non-invasive, it’s YOUR cancer so never compare your experience to someone else.