The "C" Word

It's probably the scariest word out there. At least I can't really think of a single word that effects me as much as the "C" word does. Just 6 little harmless letters strung together and it leaves me completely breathless.
I guess I should probably start at the very beginning.
Last August I went in for my normal yearly exam. My midwife Sue asked me how I was feeling and I was literally just complaining like a little whinebag at the time. I told her I had a super bad cough that wasn't going away no matter how many different kind of over the counter cough medicine I had been taking. Nothing was working and sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air. She felt my throat and said I felt "knotty" so she wanted me to get some labwork done. I asked why and she seemed hesitant to tell me. I told her I was just going to go home and google it and jump to the worse-possible-scenario conclusion. So she told me that it could be just a couple of no-big-deal nodules or it could be cancer.
Cue first (of many) freak out.
I did the labwork and was then referred to a surgeon. I'm not sure why I was referred to a surgeon first but I was a good girl and did what I was told. Dr. Coy ordered an ultrasound that showed multiple nodules on both sides of my thyroid, one in particular was of a concern because it was fairly large and had significant blood flow so he ordered a biopsy.
In early November I had the biopsy and the results were inconclusive. Dr. Coy said that he didn't think that I needed to have it removed at that time so he put me on some medicine that was supposed to shrink or at least slow down the growth of the nodules and told me we would re-recheck in 6 months. He told me to check out my throat every day and if I was ever able to see a bump, I needed to come in sooner.
May rolls around and I know that the nodule they were concerned about was bigger because for the first time I can see it. I go in for my scheduled ultrasound a week later and it shows what I already know.
Dr. Coy gave me two options: 1) Another biopsy (which sucked the first time around) or 2) Surgery to go ahead and removed the left side of my thyroid since it was eventually going to have to happen anyway.
I went with option #2. Better to be proactive, right?
Actually I just really didn't want to do the biopsy again because it traumatized me the first time around.
So Wednesday June 12th, I had the left side of my thyroid removed. My surgery went well. They removed a pretty good size mass and I overheard the nurses (when they thought I was still asleep) throw around the word "Tumor".
I opt to stay the night just to be on the safe side and by the next day I felt perfectly normal. Good even. I was supposed to have a follow-up on the 25th when I would find out the results of the pathology.
Zach took the kids to my mom's house and I enjoyed a kidless weekend so I could just rest and relax. Then Zach and I went to Warsaw to pick them up that Sunday.
We headed back home Monday and were having a really good day until 5:30pm when my world changed completely. My phone rang and I saw that it was Dr. Coy's office.
Weird, right?
I mean, it was after hours and it's less than a week after my surgery. I answered as calmly as possible and Susanne tells me they have my results. My breath catches and when she says "Hold on a second" she "needs to find" my paperwork. I knew it was bad. If it was benign she could just say "It's benign!" and we could celebrate. The fact she was searching for my paperwork so she could tell me exactly what it says freaks.me.out.
My eyes started to tear and then she finally says it. Cancer. She wanted to know if I wanted to meet with Dr. Coy or if I wanted just to schedule the second surgery. In my panic I told her to just schedule it ASAP. She told me to call her the next day if I have any questions. By this time I'm gone. Tears are pouring down my cheeks.
This was the worse case scenario. Completely unexpected.
Even Dr. Coy said when he discharged me that the mass was soft so he was not expecting anything bad.
I have THREE small children. I am only 28 years old. I don't smoke. I don't drink. I even eat fairly healthy. I don't feel sick. I should not have cancer.
I sat in my husband's lap, curled up while he rubbed my back telling me it was going to be okay. My two year old son comes over to me and wipes away my tears saying "It's o-tay mama, I wipe your eyes" I spent the evening cuddling with my babies and kissing their little heads.
The next morning I'm over the initial shock and I call the office because I realized I knew nothing other than it was the "C" word. The nurse seemed to have been expecting my call. She explained that I have Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma and a quick google search told me that this is the best kind of cancer to get. Kind of a weird sentence but if you HAVE to get cancer, this is in the top 3 of types of cancer to get. If caught early enough it is almost always 100% curable.
The size of the cancer in the mass was fairly small (1.2cm) but still within the range that they would recommend removing the other side of my thyroid as a precaution. Instead of just scheduling my surgery, Dr. Coy wanted me to come in to his office to meet with him. He also told me to bring my hospital-hating husband which made me nervous.
Is there more? Is it worse than I think? Hopefully not because I'm thinking the absolute worse.
The first thing out of his mouth is "How are you? You are NOT going to die from this." He explained the risks and we scheduled my second surgery for July 8th (he totally worked around Book Bash because I told him I didn't want to miss it if I didn't absolutely have to).
Depending on what pathology says will determine whether I have to undergo any sort of radiation treatment.
A few hours later I met with my endocrinologist, Dr. Hamlet, who gave me all the information I needed about being hypothyroid. He explained that lots of blood work is in my future and when my kids enter their 20s I will need to encourage them to get scanned often as well.
After everything I feel pretty good about this. Even though it sucks, it could be way worse and I'm just trying to keep a positive attitude about everything.
BUT there is a reason I am posting about this on my author blog. With everything going on, I am behind schedule on writing In the Shadows. I am still aiming for a Winter release but I hope that you will be understanding if it is a little delayed.
 I just think I should concentrate on getting better first and I sincerely hope you will forgive me.

All my love,

Comments

  1. Erica! I am so sorry you are going through this! I'm sure you are thankful it was caught, but what an ordeal! I would be terrified too. Big hugs!

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  2. Oh sweetie.... I'm so sorry to hear this news... Just keep strong, eat well and live for today! I'll keep you in my prayers (hugs and love)

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    1. Thank you<3 My neighbor brought me chocolate-dipped chocolate chip granola bars. :) I've been eating very well today! LOL

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear this news, keep strong and eat well... Live for today!
    (hugs and love)

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  4. Thoughts and prayers Erica
    Love aunt Lesley grandma pam

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  5. Thank you for sharing, and definitely your health and family comes first. You are a survivor - your written work says so. Obviously you are facing no picnic coming up but you could use your literacy skills to pour it all into a new book.
    I'm rather surprised that a nurse (or even a doctor) would give such results over the phone - where I am, unless it is something simple, you have a consult with the doctor to get your results.
    Wishes for a smooth (on all fronts) treatment and recovery.
    Hang in there Erica.

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    1. Everyone I have spoken to seems surprised this was how they broke the news to me as well. I was rather shocked myself. Not really sure if that was standard or if the nurse felt like she knew me well enough that it would be appropriate to tell me over the phone. I have been seeing this doctor for almost 8 months now, so I'm not sure!

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  6. Lots of cyber-hugs and healing thoughts coming your way. Stay strong. Fight hard. Kick cancer's ass.

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  7. Stay strong. Prayers for you and your family!

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  8. "Shadow of Chernobyl" radiactivity (I-131) spread all obver the world including the US and caused thyroid cancer among young people now!

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