Monday, September 16, 2013
Well it is the beginning of yet another week, the weekend has passed and the count down to the next one begins.
In August I underwent surgery to have a lump removed from my neck as well as the right half of my thyroid. 3 weeks after that I was told that I have thyroid cancer, that they had removed the cancerous lump, the right half of my thyroid, my parathyroid gland and lymph nodes and have to come back in for another surgery on the left side of my neck to remove the rest of the thyroid, 1 or 2 more parathyroid glands and more lymph nodes and 4-6 weeks after that under go RAI (radioactive iodine treatment) Of course I was told that I had "the good cancer" and that things would be fine. However that is anything but the case.
No cancer is the good cancer! Cancer is just that cancer regardless of where in your body it is. True the treatments may be different than other cancers and the survival rate for the 4 different types of thyroid cancer are considerably higher than other types, but that in no way makes this the "good cancer"( I am in no way trivializing other cancers, I know how devastating, debilitating and ravaging they are)
Apart from countless surgeries, with wonderful scars left on your neck anywhere from 4 inches to ear to ear, having your body plunge into a hypothyroid state (and the side effects of that in a nutshell you loose ALL of your metabolism, ALL of your energy, you are so tired through out the day everything is constant battle, you cannot sleep at night insomnia, "brain fog" constant forgetfulness, non alertness, muscle aches, joint issues, bowel issues, dry brittle hair that falls out, extremely dry and cracked skin, intolerance to temperatures either hot or cold, fast, irregular heart rhythms, anxiety attacks, chest pains, decreased bone density, extreme mood swings and the list goes on.) You get to have this monitored closely for the rest of your life with constant blood work because levels can change quickly meaning a change in medication dose. You get to have RAI, a pill so radioactive that you are put in isolation in a lead lined room, the pill is given to you in a lead lined sealed container and then you are isolated from human contact for days because the treatment you are receiving to kill any remaining thyroid tissue could truly harm others. You are then lucky enough to come back yearly and have smaller doses of the radioactive iodine and have full body scans to search for newly developed thyroid cells which means a re-occurrence of the cancer. If that is the case the thyroid cancer then grows again in the neck area, the lungs, the spine, bones and blood stream. But the "good" doesn't stop there, because thyroid cancer re-occurs in 1 out of 3, you get to under go RAI again and possible neck and spine dissertations. If your parathyroid glands( the glands that produce the calcium your body needs) are damaged or removed( you have 4 and can function with 2 relatively ok) you develop hyperparathyroidism as well (please check the link, the side effect are vast)
Because you no longer have a thyroid you no longer have any of the T4 or T3 hormone, which your thyroid produces and every single cell in your body needs both of these to survive and work. You are put on life long meds. With thyroid issues or thyroids not functioning correctly they put you on life long medication to help stimulate and create the T4 that your body no longer produces with the hopes that your body will continue to convert the T4 into T3. However with thyroid cancer you are put on extremely high doses of the same medication in order to suppress or prevent further growth of thyroid tissue this is to help prevent recurrence or progression of their cancer. So what happens is a thyroid cancer survivor then has their body thrown into both a hyper and hypo active state. Your body is a constant seesaw swinging from one side effect to the other never settling on one. with hyperparathyroidism as well, you are put on life long extremely high doses of calcium and Vit. D to help you metabolize the calcium. Calcium levels also change quickly so you watch and wait for symptoms to let you know ( tingling in hands and feet, severe muscle cramps, extreme brain fog, irritability etc) then either wait for a dr to change or dose or head to the ER for painful IV injections. So ontop of all dealing with all that 24 hours a day, every day for the rest of your life we get to keep remembering we have "the good cancer"
I have been doing ok with this, have been handling it fine emotionally, (physically I am having quite a few issues), but for some reason out the blue yesterday morning it all hit me hard and for the first time I cried.
When I finished crying I did what all of us scrappers do, I headed to the craftroom to work through my emotions and this is what I came up with.
Just a little something to help me stay motivated