Cancer sucks. There’s no way around it.
April was daffodil month in Canada. The daffodils are a sign that the individuals who wear them support the fight against cancer and those living with cancer.
When I was a kid I always bought a daffodil pin. When I worked in the business district, I would purchase the live daffodils to brighten up my office.
Sadly this awful disease touches most families at some point, including my own. However, I never really thought I would fall into the “living with cancer” category.
I’ve told the beginning of my story (you can find it here) and I was really hoping it would be more of a short story or magazine article as opposed to a chapter book. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going for a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows size novel around here.
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January 2014 and had surgery in March of that year. To follow-up on my surgery and radioactive iodine treatment that took place in 2014, I had a follow-up “tracer dose” of radioactive iodine in October 2015. This is apparently standard procedure. Patients who’ve had treatment typically need a second full body scan to check if the original radioactive iodine treatment worked.
After my “tracer dose” in October, my doctor’s assistant advised me that my scan was clear – yay! I was super excited when the doctor’s assistant told me that there was “no evidence of cancer”.
My family and friends were thrilled and everyone said it’s about time we heard some positive news.
A few weeks later (yes, weeks) I received a call from my endocrinologist. He asked me if he’d ever followed up with me after the scan in October. I told him that I had not heard from him, but spoke to his assistant who said my scan was clear.
At that point in our conversation he said, yes, the scan was clear but we received some blood test results and they came back showing a higher level of tumor markings than he’d hoped. Ok, I said, so what does that mean? Unfortunately for me, it looks like there are still some stubborn cancer cells running around in my body causing trouble.
This conversation was very upsetting. I was angry at my doctor – why didn’t he call me earlier and tell me these results instead of his assistant giving me a false sense that everything was ok and I was all done?
I had to go back to my husband, parents, family and friends and explain – I still do have cancer. It’s microscopic but still there.
Now everyone asks me “what can you do about it?” According to my endocrinologist, nothing. There’s nothing I can do right now. This is how it is and for the next little while I have to continue to living with thyroid cancer.
My journey continues. I hoped it would be finished by now after surgery and two treatments. Unfortunately this is unclear. I’ve worked very hard to learn how to live with and deal with uncertainty in my life but sometimes, as with this situation, it can be too much. I’m tired.
I really strive to be a positive person and look at every situation as one where the glass is half full rather than half empty, but I feel like this set of circumstances is particularly difficult to shade with rose coloured glasses.
I’ve followed up with my endocrinologist who has advised me that thyroid cancer is a marathon. Unfortunately for me (and my family) I’m only at the 10 mile mark. Even still, I have no doubt in my mind – I’m going to keep running and try to pick up my pace.
To be continued…
For more on my thyroid cancer journey check out these posts: