I was by myself on Saturday morning- it was raining and it was my mom’s 60th birthday. I decided to have a gadget free morning. I didn’t turn my phone on and I was enjoying a quiet morning. Around 11, I turned my phone on and saw I had a voice mail. I checked it and my heart sunk as I heard my doctor tell me he had the results of my biopsy, and he would call me back on Monday. Doctors don’t call you on Saturday unless they have bad news.
I suspected the news was not good, as I called the answering service to see if they could have Dr. S. call me back. I didn’t want to think about it for the next two days- I just wanted to know. Dr. S. called me back about ten minutes later. He told me he didn’t have my chart with him but he said,
“I have your results from the biopsy and it shows you have papillary thyroid cancer.”
Cancer. How can that be? How can I have cancer?
I had no idea what papillary thryroid cancer was- I was only processing “cancer.” I heard Dr. S. tell me I need to have a total thyroidectomy- which is the removal of my entire thyroid. I heard him tell me he was sorry he had to give me this news. He told me it is very treatable and we caught it early. I heard him tell me I will have to have surgery, and it should get scheduled this week. I heard him tell me I’ll be in the hospital 1-3 days, and the recovery time is about a week. I heard him tell me I will have to be on medication for the rest of my life. I heard him tell me I might have to have radioactive iodine therapy, depending on how big the nodule in my thyroid is. I heard him tell me all of this, and I was trying not to cry.
After I hung up, I just sat in the kitchen staring out at the rain. Then I cursed, and then I cried. Then I was scared. This is what I had been trying to find out if I had or not, and now I knew. I didn’t have to wonder anymore if I had cancer- I have it and I have to have surgery to remove it. And yet, it didn’t seem- still doesn’t seem quite real.
I thought of Ryan and Cole. My two babies. The thought that kept popping in my mind was, ‘what am I going to do?’ I looked up papillary cancer on the Internet, and the first sentence I read was the survival rate statistics. That was not what I needed to read. I started crying all over again.
How do you ruin your family and friends days by telling them you have cancer? I decided to send an e-mail to a close friend, and figured that was a good way to start telling my family and friends. I wouldn’t have to say it- I wouldn’t have to speak it. But then I had to type out the phrase- I have cancer. It didn’t matter if I had to say it or type it. Seeing it made it real for me in that moment. I called my sisters, but neither one of them were home. I didn’t leave a message, and that was all I could do. My body needed to shut down, so I stopped reading, started a fresh wave of crying, took my phone with me, and crawled into bed. I lost track of how long I laid in bed crying. I could only think of Ryan and Cole, and if I was going to be around to see them grow up.
I stared at the wall and cried, and heard the rain pounding against the window. I kept thinking ‘what am I going to do?’ I was exhausted. My arms and legs felt like they had cinder blocks on them. A few minutes later, I heard my phone and my friend had sent me an encouraging e-mail back. It said I would never have to worry about the nodule developing cancer later. That was something positive. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
About an hour later, my sister Vanessa called. She was very encouraging and made a lot of good points. She said she would be there for me. She lives in Seattle, and told me it didn’t matter how soon the surgery was- she would be here for me and she would help me- help me recover and help me with the boys if needed. After that call, my other sister, Mara called. She told me a lot of the same things Vanessa did, and she found the website I provided the link to for papillary cancer. She told me to get myself going and make myself come down to her house that night. I told her I would- I didn’t want to be alone. She said we could go out to dinner with my sister-in-law, and a close friend.
I called the rest of my family and let my friends know. As more and more people started talking to me and encouraging me, I felt better. I finally got to Denver- to my sister’s house, and my friend, Christina was there waiting. She gave me a big hug and told me I was going to be fine. Kat, my sister-in-law gave me a hug next, and let me cry. My brother, Jeff, was there, and hugged me, as did my brother-in-law, Kevin. Everyone told me I was going to be fine.
Then Mara came in the room, and called me into her bedroom. Kat and Christina were in there too. My sister shut the door and they gave me a beautiful card, and lucky bamboo plant. (this is the picture at the begining of the post.) They told me bamboo is strong and regenerates itself. Christina told me about her mom’s journey with stage three lung cancer, and how she is healthy and fine today. I know- I met her a few weeks ago.
As I processed all the encouraging comments everyone had given me all afternoon, being with my loved ones, and looking at the bamboo plant, it occurred to me I had found my answer to ‘what am I going to do?’
I am going to be strong. I am going get through this. I am going to get this taken care of so I can be there for my boys. I am going to get the cancer out, and then move on. I am going to be healthy.
I had a nice night out with the girls. At one point Christina took a picture of her and I, and posted it to Facebook. The caption she put under the picture said, ”Cancer Shmancer.” My thoughts exactly.