Hi guys! I just want to give you all a little update on real life stuff behind the blog. I’m hoping that things will kind of go on as usual around here, and I’ve worked hard to prepare for that. And I’m hoping that you’ll all just not notice anything and we can forget I ever posted this. But on Tuesday, September 13th, coincidentally during Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, I am having surgery for Maybe-Thyroid-Cancer. So through sharing my story, I want to encourage you to Check Your Neck!
So, Maybe-Thyroid-Cancer. I know it sounds awfully pessimistic to think about it from that perspective. I mean, the odds are technically in my favor. But we’re not talking, like, 95% odds. We’re at around 70-80% I don’t have cancer. So naturally I’m looking at the 20-30% chance I do. Being the person I am, I have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. And even in the best case, I’m still having surgery. So while I am very aware that things could be much much much much worse, this isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
But let’s start at the beginning.
This all started about five months ago or so. Not really sure because time has been blurring together lately. Either way, it feels like both an eternity and the blink of an eye. And we’re not talking about finding a funny looking mole and putting off going to the dermatologist out of denial, though I have one of those too, but that’s a can of worms I can’t allow myself to open at the moment. We’re talking about, “Those tests that I just told you I didn’t think were worth repeating? Well, we are repeating them and more because I feel a nodule on your thyroid.”
At that moment, the lump on my thyroid was not the only lump in my throat.
I mean, I was at the endocrinologist to try to figure out all of my other seemingly-non-related, totally random medical issues. Infertility, high cholesterol at an early age, gluten allergy, gestational diabetes, the human equivalent of a hairball in my gut after my first pregnancy, some wacky blood sugar numbers, and al of this despite my at least semi-decent efforts to eat well and exercise, and my outward appearance of looking like a fit and healthy young(ish) woman. I thought maybe something could tie all of this together. Well, thyroid hormone tests came back fine. Other hormones came back normal. I don’t have diabetes, so there’s that.
But I have a nodule. A one-inch nodule hanging out in my neck that somehow nobody else, including me, ever noticed.
So I immediately made an appointment for a fine needle biopsy and spent another anxiety-ridden 24 hours waiting for the results, which, when I received them, did nothing to alleviate any of the anxiety. Results were “suspicious”. Meaning they couldn’t tell me it definitely is cancer, nor could they tell me it definitely is not cancer. They sent it for another test and after a week the results couldn’t tell me anything else. The surgeon I eventually met with told me that this additional test was a waste of time based on the types of cells I have.
The nodule on my thyroid is composed of Hurthle cells. Based on the statistics for Hurthle cells and the fact that I have an aunt who had thyroid cancer, there is about a 25-30% chance that it is cancerous. But the fun part about it is that the only way to find out for sure is to remove half of my thyroid in order to do a thorough biopsy. I could opt to have it all removed at once, with the risk that it might not be cancer, and I might have just removed a pretty darn important organ and now be on synthetic hormones for the rest of my life for no reason.
If it is benign, I “just ” have to recover from the surgery. If it is malignant, I’m in for another surgery and likely radioactive iodine treatment.
So that’s where I am. As I finish writing this, I am packing my bags and getting ready for tomorrow’s surgery. I have an excellent surgeon, so I think I am feeling the expected balance of confidence the procedure will be a success and anxiety because I’ve never hard surgery before and this is a pretty delicate operation. My anxiety is more related to waiting for those biopsy results. And while I feel very sure that at the end of the whole thing, I will be healthy, I don’t know what lies ahead. As a planner, that is the scariest and most frustrating part. Right now I am having to turn down opportunities, avoid making plans, and basically just living my life in limbo. And I have to give my boys just the right amount of information to not catch them off guard but not get them too scared.
I’ll keep you all updated, but in the meantime, I encourage you to Check Your Neck. Thyroid cancer may be relatively uncommon, but it is being diagnosed more and more. And if you’ve got a few spare prayers or good vibes or healing thoughts, or even good tricks for helping minimize scars, pass them along. I’m going to be on social media as much as I feel I am able to, because I think it is important to bring awareness to this disease.
Love and deliciousness to all of you and thanks for reading and understanding.