Archive | July, 2011

Surprise! Point C.

27 Jul

I spoke with Wendy at U of M this morning. Point C is a little closer than I thought. Dr. G (the surgeon I really, really wanted) had a cancellation, and she can get me in for a consult on August 9. Hooray!

Oh wait. That means my surgery is the week of August 15.

I was a bit apprehensive at first…I had settled in at Point B and was ready to park it for awhile. But let’s just get this thing over with so I can move on with the rest of my life!

I am choosing to believe that this surgery will be no big deal at all. Dr. G has all of the latest robotic surgical equipment at his fingertips, and does nothing but thyroids all day. Mine will be totally routine to him. My recovery time will be 1-2 weeks, and I’m not going to have any complications. The pathology report will match all of our presumptions thus far.

Point C, here I come!

Point B

26 Jul

Today I met with Dr. E in Endocrine Oncology at U of M Comprehensive Cancer Center. It was a good appointment…not Point A, and not yet Point C. I am calling it Point B on My Journey.

U of M is a well-oiled machine. They provided me driving directions that took current construction into account, I got my own “Blue Card” so I don’t have to re-register at every appointment and I was in an exam room in less than 5 minutes. Dr. E spent more time with me than any other doctor I have ever seen. We discussed my log road to Point A (diagnosis), and she shared with me that the U of M pathologists diagnosed cancer on the FIRST biopsy slides that they received from Covenant (yes, the biopsy I had way back in April 2010!). That should make me really, really mad. But I am kind of past that point. Now I am just grateful. It’s probably been there for a long time. The good news is that over the course of a year, it didn’t grow any bigger!

Dr. E did a long physical exam, which was great. She even checked my reflexes, which all doctors looking at thyroid issues should do. She had me drink water while she checked my neck, and she said my thyroid isn’t even that enlarged. Then she did an ultrasound to check my lymph nodes…right there in the exam room. It was a whole new world! She said my thyroid looks pretty darn normal aside from the small calcified spot. The nodule is actually toward the middle, so removing half is really not an option. I had already decided I wanted the whole thing out and done with anyway. She said my lymph nodes look perfectly normal on the ultrasound, but she didn’t give me any promises that I was in the clear until after the surgery pathology report comes back. If all is as it look to be (just a small cancer spot, encapsulated, no spread) then no RAI (radiation with radioactive iodine) treatment for me! If you happen to be praying for me, please pray for that!

Before I left, we discussed my aftercare a bit. She said she only writes synthetic replacement hormone. I guess I kinda expected that. And she seemed taken aback when I asked about combo therapy (T3/T4 Cytomel/Synthroid). She said she was open to it based on my needs after trying Synthroid alone first. I guess I can live with that…as long as it’s BRANDED. Maybe that’s the drug rep in me, but there’s no way anyone is putting me on generic ANYTHING.

I liked Dr. E very much, and it seems she takes it one thing at a time. This is what I know today:
* Everything looks positive for a stage 1 diagnosis with no radiation
* I may qualify for robotic surgery, but I need to get that answer at my surgery consultation
* After my total thyroidectomy (TT), I will know if I need to have a body scan or if we can just follow up with labs (watching my thyrogloblin levels). I really don’t want to have a scan, because it means going on a horrible low-iodine diet and possibly getting off thyroid medication for 6 weeks (this is what thyroid patients call “Hypo Hell”).
* My surgeon will manage my meds for the first three months, and I will follow up with Dr. E in December
* I will get a phone call within 48 hours to schedule my surgery date and my surgery consult, and it will likely be sometime in early September
* After my surgery (Point C), the goal of my medication treatment will be normal thyroid function. This is quite different from suppressive therapy, which I assumed I would need. Since everything is so early in diagnosis, I might actually be able to get back to my old self before Christmas!
* I have a really, really great friend who comes through with unsolicited support every time I need it. You know who you are. Thank you. This whole experience has made me want 100 more of you in my life.

So here we are. Point B means I have some information, but no resolution. I am feeling really good about everything, and ready to focus on my sister’s wedding on Saturday. We’ll worry about Point C later!

Born to Run

8 Jul

You are not a runner.

I remember the first time I told myself this. I was in the sixth grade. I was running the 200 meter dash in the last track meet of the season. I came in dead last in front of my entire family, and a group of snotty girls ridiculed my form. That was it for me…I never competed in school sports again. I believed in my own failure.

Fast forward to 2001. My first year as a working professional…and 40 pounds overweight. I remember the first time I got on the treadmill at Powerhouse Gym. I huffed and puffed through my walk, hanging my head and glancing at the skinny girl next to me, sprinting through her workout with ease. “You are not a runner,” I told myself. Then the weight started to come off, and I got a little braver. I ran for one minute at a time until I worked myself up to a 3 mile run. Exactly one year later, the same skinny girl got on the treadmill next to me right as I began my workout. And she got off before I even broke a sweat.

Since my diagnosis, I have experienced a wide range of emotions. Sometimes I find myself believing in my own failure…imagining a life where I am huffing and puffing, unable to keep up. I scour the internet, searching for the one person who didn’t gain 50 pounds after thyroid cancer…one person who doesn’t suffer from chronic fatigue, crazy mood swings and cancer recurrence. I forgot that I can be that one person.

When I run, I remember that my body is capable of amazing things. I can still walk out my front door and go for a run at this very moment. I may never win a race, but when I believe in my own success, I can beat that skinny girl on the treadmill. I can get through natural childbirth (twice!). I can carry a 25-pound toddler, 3 bags of groceries, a sippy cup and a cell phone. When I have faith, I can beat the odds.

I ran my first 5K race in 2003 with my dad. Running the Volkslaufe is now a family tradition.

By 2008, I could even wave at my daughter mid-race.
And this year, my daughter asked ME, the non-runner, if she was “doing it right.”

I am a runner. I am a warrior. I can and I will.

When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Proverbs 4:12