Sunday, November 24, 2013

the c word.

crap. crap. crap. crap. crappity crap crap crap.


cancer.


never thought i'd be 34 years young, associating that word with my body.  my self.  my mind.


but i am.

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it all began 2 years ago when my ob-gyn noticed my left thyroid was a tiny bit larger than my right.  she sent me off for blood work and an ultrasound, which resulted in yes, the left is a tiny bit larger, let's biopsy it.  well that came back with a diagnosis of benign thyroid nodule.  phew.  nothing major. no harm done.

until this benign little nodule kept growing, and over the next year-and-a-half it tripled, quadrupled, i'm not sure, but it exponentially grew in size.  despite 6 months of synthetic thyroid hormone, it grew.  it became only slightly bothersome, more noticeable, and when asked if i wanted to have it removed, i resoundingly said yes.  why allow it to continue to grow?  just take it out.  move on.

november 7th.  i am wheeled into surgery to remove the nodule and my left thyroid, well aware of the fact that when it is removed, they will pathology it to determine if there are cancerous cells present.  if so, my right is coming out as well.  but i awoke several hours later to the good news that i was only missing half my thyroid.  no cancer was located upon first dissection.  i could recover with my collarbone war wound that was larger than they initially planned, as that little sucker they removed was the size of an egg, and my drainage tube.  oh joy.

fast forward 6 days later.  i arrive for my post-op appointment, have my sutures removed, and wait for the doctor to give me the final check, the all clear, the life moves on smile.  except that i didn't get it.

what i did get was a shock to my system.  only just that morning, she tells me, the pathologist called her to change his diagnosis.  follicular carcinoma cells were found throughout the nodule, mildly invading the thyroid.  these cells were difficult to detect in the post-surgery dissection and even the frozen dissection completed the day after surgery.  it wasn't until the entire nodule was scanned that they found those little enemies.  and it was then that my mind began to race and my tears began to creep down my cheek and my mom's hand outstretched to enclose mine.

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i listened to the doctor tell me what to expect, what the next steps are.  but honestly, my mind was completely on michael and my girls.  how would we do this?  this is not what we had planned.  this was not supposed to happen.  everything up until now came back benign.  this was a minor percent scenario.  why is this happening to me?  to us?

i left that appointment and cried.  i called michael immediately at work and after getting the facts, he said he was coming home from work right then.  i called my dad and cried.  i called my sister and sobbed.  i haven't had the chance to blog this yet, but you see, my sister and her family moved to london only 3 weeks ago.  london, as in england.  as in, thousands of miles away, won't see them until april.  we facetime daily, which helps a little, but this day, it hurt that she wasn't here.  a lot.  she knows just what to do and just what to say to make it better.  and i didn't have her there with me.

we drove home, my mom and i, praying and talking and trying to wrap our brains around this.  i arrived home and didn't know what to do, who to call, how to tell family and friends.  this isn't something that you write in a mass e-mail or text, and so it's taken me over a week to tell those i love in person and via phone about this crappy new journey we've just ventured on.

i don't even know how i'm feeling.  some days are good.  some are crummy.  some are ok.  some days i've kept pretty busy and have pushed this diagnosis out of my mind for awhile.  but underneath there's a whole mess of stuff going on inside my head and i am so thankful i have this blog to dump it all onto.  so here goes some of it.  all very random.  i apologize.

my doctor tells me that if you're going to get cancer, thyroid is the one to get.  wow.  lucky me.

i feel chilled to my bones.  nothing seems to warm me up.  i stand in piping hot showers for what seems like hours only to dry off and put on yoga pants and cuddly sweatshirts.  i am constantly shivering off so many feelings.

i have amazing friends.  i have received so many cards and texts and e-mails and phone calls.  meals delivered.  offers to take my kids for a few hours.  coffees brought over.  hugs and kisses and shared cries.  stupid jokes and poking fun to make me laugh.

i have an even more amazing family.  my mom and dad live 10 minutes away, but you'd think my mom moved in.  she was here bright and early to take the girls to school, she was back in the afternoon to bring them home.  she made meals.  she did our laundry.  she picked up the house.  she was present.  and that in itself was comforting.  she'll never know how blessed we are for her.

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what i do know for absolute certainty is that i'm not going anywhere.  if this is the cancer to have (it just sucks that i have it at all), then i guess i can be thankful for that.  but this isn't going to overcome me.  i will not be struck down by this.  i have way too much in my life to live for.  to be thankful for.  i am strong.  i have faith.  i am surrounded by strength and courage and love.  and that's what counts and what matters.

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so on we go.  to my next surgery january 2nd to remove the other side of the thyroid.  and to 5 weeks post-surgery for iodine radiation when i will be quarantined from anyone for a few days.  but first, we will enjoy and celebrate and love the holiday season.  and that i am looking forward to.

(a very special thank you to my friend, laura, for these beautiful family photos.  i am so thankful for you.  and i am so thankful for these happy memories.)

4 comments:

Armin Rueda-Shakry-Casab said...

Emily: My heart goes out to you and your family! I know you will make it through this difficult chapter in your life. If there is anything I can or anyone in my family can do, please do not hesitate to ask. God, will show you the way and my prayers were with you at Church today. Your friend,
Armin

Kellie said...

Hugs and love to you. You have such strength and positivity. You will get through this and thrive on the other side.

Jean Herbison said...

Life is a journey that takes us down roads that we are certain where the turns are and make them with ease. Buyt some are curvy, unexpected and fearful, leaving a sense of dismay on where to go next. But in those moments God holds our hand, our heart and keeps us calm; taking each turn ever so delicately. The curves, twists and turns then become a bit easier because we have faith that we are not alone and the journey will be successful. Your journey is one that you can embrace with calm, confidence, faith and security because this journey is not taken alone, rather you are held closely in God's hands. May you feel the love that surrounds you and go in faith and declaration that you will be healed. All will be well. Loving thoughts to you and yours.

Lis Benson said...

Emily,
Merry Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family! I have been meaning to tell you just how beautiful this post is and how truly brave and confident you are. I wish you all the best and I think of you often.
I love your blog and your pictures :) thank you for sharing with the world!
All the best, Lis (Dockham) Benson