I Never Thought I Would Actually Have Cancer

9.06.2013

The only thing worse than being told you have cancer is trying to tell your five year old son. Honestly, I wasn't sure how to approach the subject or if I should even say anything at all. There wasn't a section on this in my parenting handbook. So I told Ollie that I had cancer and that cancer makes people really sick and some people die from it. He was horrified. He looked at me with wide eyes and said, Who am I going to stay with?

I didn't really get it at first, so I asked what he meant. If you die, who am I going to stay with, my baby boy asked me. I scooped him up into my arms and reassured him, I'm not going to die, sweetie. I'm not going anywhere.

He held on to me tightly and whispered into my ear, Please don't leave me.

Lately, life has been a whirlwind. It was exactly one week ago that I got the phone call with the news. It is crazy how one phone call can completely change your life. 

If there is one thing that I have learned, it is to be my own advocate for my health. I have known for quite some time that something just was not right with my body. I need to check my medical records, but I believe I probably saw a doctor around 30 times in the past 18 months. Which, for a normal person is excessive, but I am the type of person who avoids the doctor's office at all costs. I doubt I had been to the doctor 30 times in the five years previous, which included a pregnancy!

The doctor's continued to ignore me and gave up really fast. I was prescribed antibiotic after antibiotic. When I discovered a lump on my clavicle at the beginning of June, I really started to think that something was wrong. But my doctor's continued to brush everything off, and insisted that my large tonsils were holding bacteria and causing all my issues. Finally, after continuing to go into walk-in appointments week-after-week, my doctor decided to do a thyroid ultrasound. This ultrasound showed that I had multinodular goiter, which just means that I had an enlarged thyroid with multiple nodules (tumors, basically) on it. 

When I was getting my ultrasound, I could tell that they had found something, and I went home from the appointment extremely anxious. The radiologist told me that they had found nodules and that my doctor would contact me about the results. Well, I had no idea what that meant. As I searched Google, I began to think it was possible that I had the dreaded c-word. But I put it out of my head.

The nurse called and referred me to an Endocrinologist (a thyroid specialist). She explained that my thyroid was enlarged and had nodules on it. My appointment was made for September 19th, which was like six weeks away. During the phone call, the nurse made a point to say, probably four or five times "...but everything could just be okay". Which did not put me at ease.

So, I went to the hospital and got a copy of my ultrasound results. They honestly really did not find anything that suggested I was really sick, but I felt really sick and so I knew I did not want to wait that long to see a specialist. I began calling Endocrinologists that my insurance covered and found an appointment for the following week.

At my appointment with the specialist, he basically told me that my nodules were very small and my thyroid was barely enlarged. He suggested that my illness and other symptoms were from a low vitamin D and surprise surprise...tonsils. Since I was looking into doing a tonsillectomy, he reluctantly decided to do a biopsy on the largest nodule, which was only 1cm (that is the smallest they can biopsy). This was just as a precaution and he told me there was no reason to think that this was cancer. He wasn't worried at all.

I came home and Googled Thyroid Cancer. The symptoms were:
  • Nodule(s) on the thyroid
  • Change in voice / increased hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • Pain in the neck/throat/ears
Well, I had all of those symptoms. Every single one. So I began to worry about the biopsy and the results. I began to Google everything about Thyroid Cancer. I read everything I could and convinced myself that I had it. But the whole time I thought I was just being silly. I thought I was paranoid and that the results would come back benign. I never thought I would actually have cancer. It turns on I did, and I was right. 

Today, I am meeting with a surgeon to discuss removing my thyroid. My Endocrinologist had referred me to a different surgeon for an appointment on the 17th, but when I had spoken to a nurse about the procedure she was super rude and ignorant. It made me feel uncomfortable. So, I took matters into my own hands and found somebody else.

I think that is one of the hardest things about having cancer. I don't know what I am doing. I don't know what I should be doing. I don't know if doctor's are right all the time. I don't know how this all works. It makes it really scary that you are putting your life in somebody else's hands. I just hope that everything goes well today, because I am ready to get the cancer out of me!

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