About a month ago I went in for my yearly (thyroid) cancer screening. This would be year 4. My friend and mentor, Brenda, came with. I knew something was up in the ultrasound...the things she made me do, she said it was just her technique, but I just knew. Sure enough I got a call the next day (when usually I hear back same day) saying two nodules were found and I'd be needing a biopsy.
Tuesday May 16th
Me with my "surrogate mommy" Brenda
Biopsy came about two weeks later. Fargo bound to my endocrinologist with Brenda once again by my side. 4 needles. He kept commenting how small. It seemed like a struggle. He was shaking the needle vigorously once injected. It actually hurt my throat this time. And it hurt my neck for days to come.
Not even 24 hours later I got the call. Here we go, round two.
Friday, May 19th
Two days later I was back in Fargo with Brenda, undergoing a CT scan. I was so scared. A vein busted. It was gross.
And "what a day" perfectly explains my feels for that day.
There was gap of time so Brenda and I met her daughter for lunch at the Toasted Frog, then got donuts and stopped by the Fargo mall.After killing the extra time just chillin in the car (we were exhausted, I had my appointment with the ENT who would be performing the surgery; he (Dr. Terrell) shoved something down my nose and throat to check out my voice box, which he said looked alright. He said he would have another doctor (Dr. Lalich) help him with the surgery. He said risks were slightly increased this go 'round; damage to vocal nerves going from 1% to 5%, then something about calcium. He also had an oncology nurse (from The Roger Maris Cancer Center) come in with him who gave me her card...wow, this is really happening, I can't believe it. But yet there was somehow peace in knowing there was a plan set. Surgery; June 12th. Radioactive iodine treatment to start approximately 6 weeks after (doctor prepping me right after surgery by taking me off thyroid meds - all but Cytomel). She isn't saying YES 100% to radioactive iodine, but she said most likely; I will see her 4 weeks after surgery July 12th.
Wednesday, May 24thI waited to tell the kids until after all this took place...I shared the news with them with our counselors. The moment I brought up my thyroid, Zeke was in tears. He and Asher handled it the worse; questions, crying and shutting down. Zeke takes on the weight of the world so I can only imagine how he was internalizing it. Asher asking why is this happening to me, again. Prior to telling the kids, I'd been worked hard to create a support system for them by prepping the boys' Big Brothers, their schools, friends, etc. to help ensure they have a solid support system in the days to follow.
Here we are 6 days til surgery.
The emotions have been much different this time. Shortly after finding out my need for a biopsy, I came down with an awful case of strep throat; 3 days of fevers and indescribable pain. I started asking God what's the point of me being alive if it's just going to be a fight to stay alive? I felt Him say, "That is not cancer." And I felt a peace which transcends all understanding. So getting this diagnosis after, it rocked my world. God, do I not know Your voice? Did I miss understand? God, can I trust You?
UPDATE. Saturday, June 17th
I am sitting here 5 days post op and wow, what a week it's been! Sweet notes like this one have helped ease the pain throughout the process.
From a lady (Ramie) who works at the church I work out (I'm daycare side, she's church side).
Immediately from finding out the cancer had resurfaced, my friend, Fallon, took the initiative to start a GoFundMe but in addition, has put together a benefit/silent auction! I am humbled, speechless, as she has a busy life herself and has taken this role upon herself to help me and my family. I'm grateful!
Ex. of GoFundMe
She has been going out into our community to gather donations for the silent auction. She's been in contact with my boss who has reached out to the church we work at to allow the benefit to be held there. Remember the first friend I met in ND, Jessica? She and her husband now own a butcher shop and they will be donating the meat for the spaghetti dinner served. I've had several co-workers step up and offering to help including Tiffany who lost her mother to breast cancer years ago. I have received financial donations and gift donations (for silent auction), sweet notes, prayers and support from so many unsuspecting people. Boys from Zeke's Boy Scout troop will also be helping with the benefit as well. So many people are coming together for me and my little ole family and I am humbled and full of gratitude!
The Tuesday before surgery, my boss along with all the church pastors/staff came together and laid hands/annointed oil and prayed for me. I was in tears. The day before I was at the Healing Rooms receiving more prayer. A "phone friend" of mine, Nicholas, said a beautiful prayer for me as well. So many prayers, from so many sources! It's amazing how God can work through others!
Friday, June 9th was our last night together as a family. We got Dairy Queen.
Saturday, Asher spent the day with his best bud, Kylie, while Macie and I drove Zeke up to Williston to stay with their dad. It was my first time trekking that drive and my gosh, it wasn't the most fun. We hugged and kissed Zeke goodbye and Macie and I headed back home.
I am so in-love with North Dakota it's not even funny. Where I once struggled finding beauty and community, I am now surrounded in it. After visiting my sis in Mass (where I lived as a child) and driving through 8 states, it just confirmed my love for where I'm at.
I went to the walk-in Saturday night as I had this nasty phlegm cough. Doctor said my lungs were clear and it appears to either be a cold (no, all was clear) or allergies. She suggested Zyrtec and Mucinex. Ms. Anti-Pharma me went straight to CVS for said meds. I just didn't want anything to delay surgery...again. Surgery the first time got delayed a couple of times due to illness. I sent out mass texts asking for prayers of healing. Sunday wasn't looking too hopeful.
Sunday night Ash and Macie camped out in the living room with me.
Sunday night I spoke with the OR department who didn't sound hopeful about the surgery happening, but she told me to call first thing in the morning and they'd page my doctor. So, 7:15am I called and made sure they knew I was coming from three hours west so I would need an answer soon in order to be to the hospital by 12 for my 2:30pm surgery (I was supposed to have the first surgery of the day but that's a huge other story but it's funny how God works things out anyways).
The anesthesiologist called me (Dr. Bob?) and basically his only concern was if there were asthma or fever, and since there were neither, surgery was on! I dropped Asher and Macie off with Fallon's daughter, Brenda and her aunt picked me up from my apartment and Fargo bound we were!
I was nervous. We got to the hospital a little after 12. It's funny how every hospital does things differently, but that's ok. After I signed in, they called me back quickly. I changed and went through a lot of the process with Brenda by my side. I shared fears, I cried. I tried clinging to Scripture and Christian lyrics. I posted much on Facebook during the wait! Ultimately, Dr. Bob came in, he was nice, friendly old man. We chatted about surgery, about family things, he was so kind. I could tell he was a Christian. Well, he's a pic of my Facebook status - it's a bit all over the place but explains what happened.
I hope to never forget Dr. Bob. Father of 4, former surgeon who has had 25 of his own surgeries, whose wife is in Europe right now with their daughter the professional dancer, who used to vacation in a cabin in the snowy hills of Colorado. It's amazing how God places people in our lives.
Dr. Terrell came in and was kind as always. I believe I am truly blessed with the best doctors this time around.
They had the operating room ready an hour early, so they wheeled me off. I cried along the way, and the OR nurse came out and asked if I need a mama hug, then proceeded to give me one. She said, "There! There's a mama hug and a grandmama hug." She had a sweet southern accent which I'll always treasure. There were only a few nurses in the OR room but they were all so kind as I hopped onto the operating table and they did whatever they did that knocked me out. I woke up in recovery after being there for an hour. I was thristy as all get out. I just kept asking for more and more water, but I never fell back asleep. After awhile I just asked for Brenda. After a total of about 2.5 hours in recovery, they wheeled me to my room and stopped by and grabbed Brenda. She said surgery took awhile because the doctor worked hard to find and isolate the nerves as to not cause damage to them. She then said that the surgery went well and they believe they got everything. Praise the Lord. She and her aunt then left as it was late (7 something or 8 at night) and it was Brenda's birthday, no less, and so they went out for supper with her daughters that live in Fargo and then spent the night at her daughter's.
I was very much so awake that entire night, sleeping only 15-30 minute increments. I'm still amazed at how alert I was; I anticipated being more sleepy. But I'm thankful I was able to call the kids and tell them I love them. I don't believe the nurse kept up on my pain meds, so I was in a bit of pain. I made the assumption pain med would be given when due, that I wouldn't have to ask, but I think she had the other impression. The next morning, Dr. Terrell stopped by and upped my med and there was nurse change and I feel like pain was managed better at that point. Also, Dr. Terrell made the decision to keep me another night.
Brenda visited briefly Tuesday morning, but left to give me rest. I did not rest, again, but I think the pain meds kept me awake. I mostly colored and watched TV. Dr. Terrell's assistant visited me over the lunch hour and then Dr. Terrell came back in the evening. See?! Good care! Apparently Fargo got a rough storm that night that I knew nothing off (we are in a bad drought). I was one thing of lightning and that was it.
Wednesday morning, the assistant came in again and tried taking out my drain tube but was unsuccessful. Dr. Terrell ended up removing it. I cried because it hurt and the reality of what if the pathology report comes back worse than initially thought?! This is what happened last time. I'm tired of false hope just to be let down. They offered letting me stay longer...they wanted me to meet with someone in Oncology...but I told them we had to go home, Brenda had already missed so much work for me, plus I had a counseling appointment that afternoon. Remember the oncology nurse I met with weeks prior from Roger Maris? She stopped by again as well. She decided to make an appointment for me with someone in oncology the day of my post op. Part of me loves being in the hospital and all the extra help, but another part of me was ready to get home and hopefully get sleep. Fallon picked up some Motrin PM and I took that along with my anti-anxiety med that night and for the first time in days, I slept.
Asher and Macie transferred to Jen's house Tuesday night. I have worked with two of her sweet daughters (McKayla & Katelyn). She has been amazing and so caring. She brought them by Wednesday for a quick visit, and then Katelyn brought them by Thursday so I could see them again.
By Friday, I was still dealing with dizziness/lightheadedness, so I Called the ENT who suggested I go have my blood pressure taken. I went to see Amanda at Lifeways and at first it was high, but then they took it three more times (laying, sitting, standing) and it was normal. They took blood and urine and said she would call me over the weekend with results.
Well, that evening I felt like I was coming down with a fever (mind you this was the day my kids were supposed to come home!). Zeke just got dropped off from his dad's, and McKayla swung by with a thermometer and according to that my temp was 100.5 I called the nurse line who recommended I go to the ER. McKayla and her boyfriend dropped me off at the ER and brought Zeke back to Jen's. Basically, I did not have a fever, but my blood pressure was SO high and my heart rate was SO high, that they had other concerns (I now believe this was due to an upset with something totally different but that's not important now). The doctor came in and started talking blood clots in my chest because of the coughing, dizziness and heart rate. He wanted to do a CT scan. I WAS BEYOND SCARED. I cried like a baby and called Brenda to come to the hospital. Jen even came without me having to ask. Brenda encouraged me to have more faith in God. I cried the entire time they wheeled me to CT. I had to wait a few minutes outside the room and all I could do was say "Jesus" over and over and over. The CT happened and this time the IV didn't bust.
Jen and Brenda helped me laughing and entertained in the room while we waited. All my labs came back good, including calcium (which is a concern with thyroid surgery). The doctor came in and high-fived me; no blood clots. By the time we left, it was 10pm, Macie was asleep and they both encouraged me to go home and sleep and let the kids stay at Jen's.
Saturday (this morning), my sister gave me a good ole lecture on why I need rest to heal so I can be there for the kids. So I reached out to Jen to see if the kids could stay through the weekend, but that I did want to see them for a few hours today. She agreed.
I took my kids for a few hours. We drove to Verizon so I could return their Gizmo's which didn't end up working at all. Then came home, played, ate and watched TV.
We also opened a box from our friends, the Isbell's, back in Georgia. They got together with two other families from our Cub Scout troop in GA (the Seeks & McGowans) and put together a sweet care package with fun games, cards, gift cards. It came at the perfect time as I'm struggling with feeling loved and then this sweet reminder comes in to remind me there are people 1600 miles away who love and care for us deeply.
This melted me.
I cannot emphasize the gratitude I have. I cannot repay what all has been done for us. I do look forward to treasuring this within my heart and pouring it into someone else.
I am learning to surrender to God during this season. I do not know all the why's and reason's but I am learning to let-go of my control and surrender to Him and what He is doing in the midst of it all. Surrender is the theme of this season. I may continue to wrestle as I sadly attempt control, but may He gently remind me of Who is in control and He plans are always greater than mine.
Final update from July appointment with endocrinologist: