525,600 Minutes

11 Aug

Today marks one year since I lost my thyroid, and my cancer. 365 days. 525,500 minutes. How do you measure a thyroidless year?

Before my surgery, I was terrified of gaining 50+ pounds. I was already struggling with reduced energy, and I thought I would become non-functioning. I was afraid I would have a terrible, ugly scar. I thought I was saying goodbye to my fertility. I was worried that my voice would never sound the same. I didn’t want to end up with breathing problems that would prevent me from running. Deep down, I thought they might open me up and find more cancer. I prayed my personality wouldn’t change and I wouldn’t end up with chronic depression. I thought I wouldn’t be a good mother anymore. I thought my marriage might suffer. I was worried about my career. I thought saying goodbye to my thyroid meant saying goodbye to life as I knew it.

I thought I would never be the same. I was right.

My surgery was a piece of cake. The best decision I could have made was choosing an endocrine surgeon who does thyroids all day long. You literally have to squint to see my scar. No complications. No surprises either; he took the cancer out, and it hasn’t spread or returned. My voice sounds exactly the same. I can still sing to Mary before bed, and I can still hold private radio concerts in my car. Just last week, I got to see Coldplay, singing my cancer anthem, up close and personal. No one at the Palace of Auburn Hills was screaming louder than I was.

My surgery was so non-eventful, that I interviewed for a new job just 10 DAYS after my thyroidectomy (wearing a necklace to hide my fresh incision). Despite all odds, they hired me, and I have never been happier in my career. I’m doing something I love, and working with fantastic people.

I can still run. In fact, in May, I ran a 5K a full minute faster than I did before my surgery. My daughters don’t think any differently of me…they still like to run around outside and get really sweaty…”to look like Mom after Zumba.”

Having cancer actually made me slow down and appreciate my beautiful family even more than I did before. It forced me, the ultimate caretaker, to let someone else take care of me. There were times this year when I was overwhelmed by how much I am loved. I don’t think I would have been able to experience that without really letting my husband take the wheel. And if we decide we want to have another baby, we can. At my one-year appointment, my endocrinologist gave that choice back to me.

Over the last year, I’ve struggled to feel like myself. There have been days where I’ve slept 12 hours and still wanted a nap. I take four different vitamin supplements a day to make up for the deficiencies my thyroid left behind. And I can’t lose weight to save my life. One year later, I am 12 pounds heavier, and 25 pounds more than “normal.” I’ve tried to accept it, but I can’t. So I will keep fighting, playing around with my medication, counting calories and exercising. In the meantime, I am actually learning to be happy in my life without being happy with my weight.

So how do you measure a thyroidless year? When I measure the joy in my life against my pain, I came out ahead. I am winning the war. I am surviving. There is light at the end of this tunnel, and I know I will achieve “normal” someday. Maybe next year.

To quote Chris Martin, “You can hurt…hurt me bad. But still I raise the flag.”

I ran two 5Ks this year, and followed up one with a 2K run with Ellie.

Andy and me before the Coldplay concert in August 2012. No scars visible.

6 Responses to “525,600 Minutes”

  1. Tina Robson August 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer two and a half years ago. My scar has healed well also, even when they had to go in a second time to remove some more lymph nodes on the left.

  2. Diana August 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    I love your blog. I am currently dealing with this. I am 8 months from surgery. I am struggling with anxiety and depression and I just want to be normal. i am losing hope and trying to gain perspective. ive started a blog to take my mind off of everything. Thank you for this 🙂

    • sarahyoung1119 August 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      Hi Diana! Glad to connect with you. I can’t wait to read your story. I wish you the best of health!

  3. Scott W January 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Thank you so much for this awesome site! I’m also a runner, and have been unknowingly struggling with hyperthyroidism for over 6 years. I was diagnosed earlier in 2013, and after a failed attempt at calming it with methimazole, my endo has decided to do a total thyroidectomy in February. I’m really concerned about everything, because I run races competitively. Granted, the hyperthyroid condition impacts my running right now, but I’m more worried about how it will be affected once the thyroid is removed and I’m then hypothyroid. I realize the good outweighs the bad, but I just wish I knew what I can expect!

    • sarahyoung1119 January 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      Hi Scott! You may do just fine! Just make sure you find a doctor you are comfortable with, and will listen to you and your symptoms as you strive to find the right dose of replacement medication. Now that I have leveled out, I feel normal! Best of luck!

  4. Lee April 25, 2017 at 11:27 pm #

    Thanks so much for the positive story 2 weeks out from total thyroidectomy and feel good, nice to hear a positive story!

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