After Thyroid Cancer Surgery

It has been 12 days since my thyroid and lymph node cancer surgery, and the recovery has been slow.  Thanks to my friend, Amy, who has posted a few updates, most of you know the basic details, and I am really exhausted tonight to write a lot. 

The best news by far was the cancer had not spread into my lymph nodes as much as my surgeon, Dr. S., had thought.  During the surgery he had sent for some of the pathology reports, and none of the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck were showing cancer.

This basically saved the right side of my neck from having to be dissected.  The left side of my neck had more cancer in the lymph nodes and he did have to do the dissection, but he was able to save more nerves than he had thought as well.  I have complete feeling on the right side of my neck, but as Dr. S., warned me prior to surgery, my left side of my neck from my earlobe to my collarbone is numb. 

I was recovering really well in the hospital, but after I got out of ICU, I ran into some problems with my medications, that  am still trying to bounce back from. 

I saw Dr. S., on Friday for him to take out some stitches and he had my full pathology report.  He removed 66 lymph nodes and my thyroid.  My thyroid was positive for cancer but out of those lymph nodes, only 7 had cancer.  It seems almost like  a miracle, and I am so happy at that good news.  

Dr. S., credited my nurse practitioner with early detection for my case not being as critical as originally thought.  As you can imagine, I am going to write a lot more about this in the future.  But start now at your annual exams having your health care provider check for any abnormalities in your thyroid and get it checked as soon as you can.

I am fighting through some pain in my shoulders, and I had the boys for a few days, before their dad has them for some vacation time.  My family and friends have been nothing less than wonderful, and I am so lucky to have so many people that have taken such excellent care of me.  I will never be able to repay them- but their loving gifts of time and help are precious to me. 

Now a lot of it is up to me.  I am going to start walking more every day (per doctor’s orders) and try to eat more, even though I do not feel like it.  I am going to rest more and and not push myself like I usually do.

Dr. S., told me sometimes a drain has to stay in for up to two weeks to catch the fluid, but I had the last of my four drains out the night before  I left the hospital.  He also said I was somewhat of a medical miracle in that my calcium levels barely dropped at all, once my thyroid was out.  It is very common for the calcium to take huge drops.  If the calcium drops too low, you can go into cardiac arrest.  Dr. S., said he had never had a patient whose calcium hardly dropped at all like mine did. 

This has been a very hard, painful cancer, and surgery to cope with, but as I hope to document, the recovery is coming along well, and I feel very optimistic.  This will be a life-long issue for me from this point.  My life will never be quite the same, but I have been cancer free now for 12 days,  there is no more cancer in my body, so this is a new start for my family, friends, and I.  

The picture below is a picture of me on June 12th, just after my surgery.  I am sharing it to show that thyroid cancer is still cancer- it shouldn’t be ignored.  It is a big deal. 

The next pictures  I share on my blog of me post-surgery will be much better.  Cancer can be beaten, but insist your provider checks your thyroid at your exams, and hopefully you will never have to have a picture of yourself like I do after a thyroidectomy.     

I will continue to keep you all updated, and once again thanks for the prayers and well wishes. I am not a huge “God” person, but I know He has looked out for me, and has taken care of me through this experience.  All the prayers, healing energy, and positive thoughts, have helped-and I thank you again for all of these you have sent to me.  

 I read before my surgery that cancer is a word-not a sentence, and it was all of you who helped me remember that.  I love you all. 

surgery-june-12-09  Thyroidectomy & lymph node surgery removal June 12, 2009