I've blogged before. I like to blog. My sister challenged my to blog about my thyroid cancer, so here I go.
I started having weird throat symptoms in April of this year. Let 'em go for a while, but they wouldn't go, so I got checked. Blood work normal - I thought, "good," but they didn't agree. I got the results of my ultrasound while I was at a minor league baseball game with Lizzie's class. Over the roar of the crowd, I listened to words like "large mass" and "cancer" talked about the way you'd talk about "groceries" and "laundry". I was numb.
Fast forward to the ENT visit. I listened as he explained that there was a 50/50 chance that I'd have to have my chest cracked open to remove my thyroid. Now, I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on T.V., but I know that the thyroid is supposed to be in the neck region. Apparently mine was traveling south even though it wasn't winter. But he was certain that whatever was going on, it wasn't cancer. I liked him better than the Cancer Phonecall Person.
June 1, surgery. I woke up with the typical thyroid wound in front of my neck. And 39 staples down the middle of my chest. Like open-heart surgery without the heart surgery. That hurt. But except for some post-op breathing trouble, I was up and around, and ready to go home on June 7. Feeling like I'd dodged a bullet. Till the gunman showed up on the 6th telling me that I had thyroid cancer. "Papillary carcinoma." I listened to all the details, and his reassurance that "if you have to get cancer, this is the one to get." I didn't remember being told that I had to get cancer in the first place.
Blood tests, recuperation and an MRI later, the decision to remove the last bit of thyroid tissue was made, and on Aug. 24 I had the second surgery. A paper cut compared to the first one, since it was only through the neck wound. Recovery was easy, and my voice seems like it will be pretty normal eventually. (For those who don't know, I was a voice major in college, so I kinda like to sing a little.) I haven't tried that yet, because I'm afraid of what I might sound like.
Now I'm waiting. Waiting to see the oncologist again, for the radioactive iodine (RAI) scan, and then the RAI treatment and week of isolation. Because I'll be radioactive. Like a nuclear weapon. I'm also waiting for the exciting symptoms of hypothyroidism, which make everything thus far sound like a cake walk. While I wait, I'm on a low-iodine diet. Essentially jelly beans and beer for the next month. I'll be fat and diabetic, but so drunk I won't care!
This whole thing has been...weird. And it has made me feel very week and dependent. Dependent on Jeff and Lizzie, who have been wonderful. They've done things for me that I would have preferred to do myself, and I'm grateful to them for that. On my sister, who's been funny and concerned and there whenever I need to talk. And on friends and my church family who have brought meals, taken me places when I couldn't drive, and provided prayer and encouragement every day since April. I don't know awful how the past few months would have been without them, and I'm grateful I won't have to find out.
In the New Testament, James wrote that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." I know that every person that has been involved in this with me has been a gift to me from God. I know that God even brought this cancer into my life for His purpose. I once read somewhere that if it never rained, we'd never see rainbows. Without the bad, God has no opportunity to show His love and care for His people. Paul wrote about his "thorn in the flesh", that God wouldn't remove because God's "grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness." And so Paul responded that he would "boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." I'm thankful that God has brought this situation in my life, because it's allowed me to be weak and He has shown Himself strong.
I've joked about "glowing in the dark" after my RAI treatment, mostly because if I don't joke about it, it just freaks me out. But I've been thinking about that phrase in the "light" of what Paul says in Philippians, and I realized that I want to glow in the dark; I want to "shine as lights in the world" in the darkness of cancer, of fear and uncertainty. I want everyone who's watching be able to see the Light and Strength of Christ.
My sister also challenged me to get a tattoo when my RAI is done. I'm not so sure about that one!