Click Read More to hear about Kristina's first Thanksgiving battling Thyroid Cancer.
Good morning, world!
It’s me, Butterfly Mom. I’ve been saying for weeks and weeks that I would launch my blog on Thanksgiving because there is so much that I am thankful for. More so now than ever before, but I had writers block. My brother kept pushing me to write everything I was feeling, but I was feeling so much. I had so many thoughts, I didn’t know how to put them into words. I had so many ideas running through my head, that it was impossible to get them coherently down onto paper, but here I go. The best time for me to write is when I am in the shower. If my blog was a mental recording of everything that runs through my head when I zone out in the shower, it would become a New York Times bestseller, believe me. But I am not a New York Times bestseller. I am not a great writer. I am just Butterfly Mom now. First post. Ready? Here goes nothing.
It's 7:45am on Thanksgiving morning. Typically, in years past I would be already up and running, preparing the traditional thanksgiving feast as I have done year after year. Instead, I am up, and first things first I took my Synthroid, now I must wait an hour before I can indulge in the fresh baked cinnamon rolls I’m surprising my daughters with. As I sit here, typing this, waiting for the green light from my Synthroid to eat something, the girls I can hear are rustling in their beds. They will be up any moment. When my two daughters wake up, they bring with them blessed chaos and there will be no time to type, so I must type fast!
Before you get all “What a great mom, she’s up early on Thanksgiving baking homemade Cinnamon Rolls for her family.” Don’t get too proud. They’re from a can (but they’re organic!) Being seven weeks post-thyroidectomy, I didn’t have the ability to handle the stress (physically or mentally) to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, let alone making homemade cinnamon rolls. Who makes homemade Cinnamon Rolls?!?
"It’s been seven weeks since my surgery.
On this Thanksgiving morning, I finally feel normal. I’ll still randomly be bombarded with the memory from September 13th, 2016 at 5:23pm. The moment I got the call that closed one chapter of my life; the call from my endocrinologist, casually telling me my FNA biopsy came back as Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. *Chills*. Just thinking about this again sends chills down my spine, the hair on my arms standing on end. Unless you’ve gotten the call before, you can’t imagine the paralyzing fear that the infamous call brought with it. Thirty-six years on this planet. Five years in the medical field. No part of my resume could prepare me for those words. If memory serves me right (which that moment, I promise it does), the next words out of his mouth were “You have the good cancer. If you were to pick a cancer, this is the one to have!” I’m sorry, what?! The good cancer?! I didn’t know there was a good or bad cancer. He told me he was going to be in touch with his “neighbor” to perform a full thyroidectomy, get me on thyroid replacement and some Radio Iodine Therapy and then I should be “fine”. I’m sorry, you’re going to talk to your neighbor? And “get me some Radio Iodine Therapy”?? You’re not walking to your neighbor to ask for a cup of sugar. You’re not telling someone to “get some rest”.
After I hung up, the first fear that I felt was immediately directed to my family. I kept thinking “this can’t take me out!” I just kept telling myself this wasn’t true. I had to see my girls grow up! I have to grow old with my husband! Out of me and my brother I’m the oldest. I’m supposed to be the one that will care for my parents when they’re old. No. No. No! This can’t be happening. And at that moment, all the other what-if started running through my head. Like how long has this cancer been growing in my body? Is it in my brain? Is this why I’ve been having migraines? Is it in my lungs?! What about my lymph nodes?! Some would call it hypochondria, but when you’re just told you have cancer on a gland in your throat, half-way to your brain and lungs and right next door to your lymph nodes, it’s not hypochondria. It’s being a realist.
The doctor was so matter-of-fact that this wasn’t a “bad cancer”, but said my chances of having this type of cancer was less than 6%. Sorry if I didn’t feel like I won the lottery, doc. The day’s following was a complete blur. My brother was all the way in Seattle, and wasn’t here. My mom and dad didn’t like talking about it, and my husband was constantly googling. I didn’t know if I wanted my family to pretend it wasn’t happening, or research it to death and tell me the positive statistics. Every time I looked at my daughters I burst into tears. Every time I heard my daughters laughing, I burst into tears. Every time I saw my girls smiling, I burst into tears. Seeing them, made every what if scenario amplify in my head.
For those of you who know me, reading a bedtime story to my daughters is the highlight of my day. I couldn’t even read to them without tears wondering if after surgery I would even have a voice.
I’m a collected person. I can hold myself together. But this ordeal was too much. Call it overthinking, call me an emotional wreck, or whatever you want, this is what I went through. This is what I want to share with others going through the same issue. This is the real aspect of life and motherhood after thyroid cancer.
I was sad to know my sweet girl’s mommy was battling cancer, that my husband’s partner was battling cancer. What fears did he have? What was he feeling that he wasn’t telling me? What was my mom and dad feeling that they weren’t telling me? My brother? It angers me to see people who don’t take care of themselves by choosing to smoke, drink excessively, or live risky lifestyles. Dying doesn’t end your pain, it only transfers it to a loved one. I don’t know who said something similar, but I hate seeing people not take care of their health, more so now than ever.
Days followed. I battled insurance companies because I wanted another opinion. Deep down I knew my thyroid had to go, but I just needed someone else’s opinion. I wasn’t going to go out with one doctor’s opinion, especially a doctor who was going to use his neighbor for surgery. After insurance run around, I scored an appointment with the Mayo Clinic. As the universe would have it, I just so happened to get an appointment with one of the top world renowned endocrinologist in the world. I was so excited getting this appointment. After meeting with the doctor, hearing his prognosis and plan, I knew this was it. I felt it in my gut. He was the one. I remember mom saying the other doc would have treated me, but my treatment at Mayo Clinic would cure me.
It’s been seven weeks since my surgery. I am not in the clear yet, I have an appointment in December. The bloodwork at that meeting could potentially determine if I have to have the Radio Iodine Therapy. (fingers crossed I don’t).
Well, my daughters are up, and the timer’s beeping. The cinnamon rolls are done. But really quick, before I go, if you’re reading this today because you just go the same phone call or going through a similar journey, you’re not alone. Together, we will fight the fight. Reach out to me if you need advice. A hug. Or just warm healing vibes. I’m here for you.
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