Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Problem With Guilt

I was diagnosed with Thyca (thyroid cancer) 5 weeks after a family friend, who is about my age was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently doing chemo and is amazingly graceful in her journey. 

When I was first diagnosed with thyca people would say to me, well if you have to have cancer,  it's the best one to have. I am just short of one month into my journey and let me tell you, there is no "best kind" or "the good cancer". It's cancer. It is not good, no matter what. With everything, there is variation of severity. Thyca, is treated in its own way, having its own side effects and impact. I won't have to do chemo because of how thyca developes in the body and spreads within the body. There are many what-ifs that I am trying not to occupy. I am avoiding all the stories out there about cancer spreading, side effects of the radioiodine, long term pain, med management and misinformation in the medical community resulting in a ton of pain and suffering for many. my greatest fear is weight gain for clear and understandable reasons. I hope that my providers hear all my concerns and work with me to figure out the best treatment for me. I hope that I am spared many of the what-ifs.

In the mean time, I am counting the days while trying to remain grounded in what I do know and not hypotheticals.  A co worker told me Friday that she had no idea I was going through this when we would make small talk in the hall. I don't look different but I feel, emotionally, horrible. Guilty that I am struggling and scared even though I have the "good" and "curable" cancer.  I should be grateful it's not worse...or inoperable. THIS was not part of the plan.


I reached out to my friend Toni this week to ask if I could come out to see her and her beautiful baby Adam, who was born in the fall. She along with my other two best girls from NYU have all lost parents to cancer. They were among the first round of people I told. I knew they would understand and love without judgment. I felt guilty for having cancer and being the first in our group to be confronted with something like this. I'm only 37.... And I am the oldest of us. New babies,  marriages...we should be enjoying all the blessings and friendship and growing through adulthood together. Not. CANCER.

So today, I am on the train heading out to Long Island. I am on the double decker express train that goes all the way to Montauk. I love riding the train. Watching everything go by, the soundtrack of my choosing echoing around my brain. (The music today is the Fifty Shades Soundtrack, which I love. Say what you will about the movie, the music is wonderful.) I can think, reflect, be in the quiet of my own experiences.  I can choose how I want to respond. To face the world and all that it throws at me.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Warning: Strong Language, parental guidance suggested.

Thanks to one of my oldest friends in the world, Sara for this fantastic new tee!  Yes, indeed.  Fuck Cancer.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Next Steps on the Ponderous Journey

Thank you for the plethora of love and well wishes over the last two weeks.  Your positive energy is welcomed and felt as I take steps to conquer cancer.

I went to day to meet with my surgeon.  Dr. Lagmay was great and I feel comfortable with the course of treatment he laid out.  So...

I have Stage 1 Papillary Thyroid Cancer. It is the most common form.  I will be having a complete thyroidectomy.  Pathology will take a week which may reveal something different (Stage 2 - however not more than that because I am so young, or if it spread beyond my thyroid). There will be follow up care with the endocrinologist to help start and regulate the synthetic hormones. 

My surgery has been scheduled for March 11th (Wednesday) for the removal.  I will be out the 11-13.  Possibly the following Monday but that is TBD.  

My prognosis pre surgery is good.  

My mother in law went with me today and said as we were leaving that she wanted to hug Lagmay.  I huge vote of confidence from Joann.  I am feeling positive and tired.  The adrenaline is subsiding leaving my body and the crash coming and the martini lunch we had after my appointment was wonderful.

Tomorrow is Friday, then a weeks vacation.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Collecting Ones Self

First and foremost, thank you to everyone for words of support and encouragement, affirmations, being pissed, and feeling all the feelings with me. It's hard to find someone who has not been impacted by cancer-directly or indirectly. In some ways the the camaraderie that comes from identification and understanding has helped tremendously this week and in the weeks leading up to my diagnosis, which was swathed in so much fear of the unknown.  Knowing offered release of so much energy I had been holding so tightly. Release allows forward mobility.

It's been frustrating to hear people say things like "it's the best cancer to have" if you have to have cancer....this article was in the +The Huffington Post  today. I heard those words come out of my own mouth after I had told a friend, who was visibly upset when hearing the news.  I found myself comforting and wanting to take care and reassure- which I am sure was as much for me as it was for him.  I still have so many questions and so much I don't understand.  I was so shocked after my PCP called Monday that I didn't even ask questions- and I am not kicking myself as it is the weekend. 

I was able to get into see an ENT surgeon next Thursday.  He has a long wait to get into see him and many people on the back end greased some wheels to help get me in (the Dr. will be away the week we are off so this was a lucky break).  Until then, I don't know what is next as far as treatment and moving forward.  More waiting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cancer In 9 Parts

Part 1. When I was in Seattle over Christmas I developed an infection on the back of my neck.  It seemed it was a cyst of some sort.   the development of a sinus infection as well landed me in urgent care on New Years Day after returning to NYC.

Part 2. At some point this fall I became aware that there was a lump on the front of my neck. Because I was so heavy for so long it was really after I lost the bulk of my weight that I really became aware that the lump was not bilateral or normal. The infection I had on the back of my neck resolved and I was referred to a general surgeon to consult on removal. Good timing so I decided to ask about the front mass when I was there.

Part 3. Surgeon agreed that the cyst should come out but not before the front of my neck was addressed. He suspected it was a goiter, about 5cm. Wanted me to go to my primary to get checked out. I had an appointment that same day (1/19).  Went to primary who did an exam, blood work and sent me to get an ultrasound.

Part 4. I went to get the ultrasound that same day, thankfully for once that there are so many doctor's offices in Bay Ridge. The tech doing the ultrasound said that the mass was solid and it covered the right side of my thyroid.

This was Monday for those keeping track. Friday after having to track down results I was referred for a biopsy. The mass was not something that could just be drained.

I made the appointment for the following Tuesday.

Part 5. Blizzard,  that was not. Canceled appointment. Rescheduled for Thursday.

Part 6. Thursday appointment the larger nodule was biopsied however additional nodules were as well. The large one, now estimated at 7cm (equipment for ultrasound only go up to 5cm so it us hard to accurately measure). There are smaller ones on the left side. It was uncomfortable but fast. Preliminary results on the spot: large mass looks ok. Just really big and has been there forever. Smaller nodule is.concerning but could go either was and needed further analysis. So we wait....


Part 7. Monday I finally called the pathologist was asked to call back because he was on a call shortly after my primary called.

Good news: the large nodule is fine, just connective tissue, solid.

Bad news: there is cancer in the smaller nodule. I will need to have at least that side removed and when they go in they will see if my lymphnodes are ok. Need to get a neck surgeon to schedule treatment and removal.

Part 8: I have cancer.

It seems of all the cancers one can have this is the best one. Extremely treatable and NOT something one dies from. This is good. But I still have cancer and I NEVER would have known if I had not lost the weight.

I'm feeling sad and a little... or a lot angry right now. But hopeful. I have so much support and I decided I wanted to write about this here because I have written about EVERYTHING here for the last 14 months and it felt strange to not be processing it here.

Losing weight has now saved my life twice. Still the best decision I ever made.

Part 9. I'm looking for a surgeon. As this new truly ponderous journey developed I will write because this is what feels right. Holding it all in hurts and I know so many people who have followed my journey are always in my corner.

So please keep me and Charlie in your thoughts as we now proceed forward and will conquer cancer.