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walk about for the soul

Feb 09, 2011 - 0 comments

Today marks one year since I decided to eat radioactive waste, and “go nuclear” to save my body from cancer. My friend Jaimee called it a walk about for the soul, it is exactly that. Being in isolation while radioactive, and having cancer reveals who you are in life. It lets you see who you really are, and what you mean to the world around you. It reveals your worth. You end up a little more broken when you realize how little you mean to some. You end up humbled by the love of a few who never leave you feeling alone in your fight.
When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I immediately began looking forward to the day when I would be back to normal. That is what I was working towards, getting back to my old self. I’m finally realizing there is no going back. I hate this body, but I am learning to accept it. I’m grateful for what life has given me, and that I am for now, cancer free. I deal with the reality that this may change, and it keeps me thankful for each cancer free day I enjoy. While trying to defeat cancer, and get back to my old self, I figured something out. There is no normal, or going back to my “old self” because I am no longer that person. My perception of the world, and everyone around me changed, and with it who I was changed.  


A not so small victory for me.

Sep 19, 2010 - 4 comments
Tags:

papillary

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follucar variant papilary car

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Hashimoto's Syndrom

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Hashimoto

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Thyroid

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PCOS Thyroid

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Cancer

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Fine Needle Biopsy

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thyroidectomy

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Depression

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major depressive disorder



A not so small victory for me.

For the last decade, I slowly slipped into becoming a bit of a mysophobe, or germaphobe. I am still the mom with the hand sanitizer, and Lysol can in her purse. If you coughed, I would leave the area. If I could not leave the area, then I would make an invisible six foot perimeter which you would not be allowed to enter. Being diagnosed with bronchitis, pneumonia every year, sometimes multiple times a year will do that to a person. Intermittent bouts of vertigo, tinnitus, migraines and other types of illness drove me to fear many things.

If my children got sick...I knew I had two, maybe three days at best before it would soon envelop me. After I had my last baby, I had to have my gallbladder removed. My last pregnancy ended, in a miscarriage. My husband fought cancer, while I cheered him on, after a year long battle, he won. I'm the sole bread winner for our family while he fights to regain his health. We soon realized our two year old son was showing language delays, some are asking if he is Autistic. By now my teenage daughter loathes my very presence, is skipping school and smoking pot daily. During this same time, I lose my sweet grandmother, and I slip slowly into a nervous breakdown.

I felt as if I was falling apart, and some how, no one but me could see it. Doctors always just patched me up, and sent me home. Antibiotics were my salvation. I was judged by so many. Well you should eat better, exercise more, do this less, more of that...you should take better care of yourself. Judged even by the doctor who scoffed at my blood test and said, "Wow you blood counts were so bad I would think you to be a cancer patient." I was sent home with a nice antibiotic Z pack for 10 days. A few months later, I'd be back again, sick again...

I honestly thought I was dying a very slow unacknowledged death. I thought only when my autopsy is done will they know what killed me, and only then will I be released from their judgment. Finally, I will gain some acknowledgment that I was sick, not lazy, weak, or insane.

I moved my children across country to where they had an abundance of family. I knew my little family would be safe, loved and well taken care of in the event of my demise. There wasn't a day that passed, and  I would think maybe I am crazy. I'm such a sissy, so emo-drama. Get over yourself. I begin to loath myself. Always sick and tired.

One night I heard my grandmother's voice, "Dena get up honey...do not give up."

I thought maybe I need to see yet another doctor. Is it really pointless to yet another doctor again? I went every time I was sick, and every year for my physical like clock work. All my labs were always perfect. I even thought maybe it is all in my head. Maybe I am not sick, and tired...but just sick of it all. Maybe all the abuse I sustained growing up, maybe it had finally taken it's toll, and I had finally lost it. Spiraling slowly into a dark well of self pity, and depression. Maybe everyone else can see my "illness" and I am the blind one.

Finally, I decide to write down EVERY last single symptom. I decide I will find a doctor who will listen to me, and not just look at lab results. I decide I will give it one last fight, before I admit defeat.

It took almost a year, and two failed attempts before I found the him. The doctor who saved me...he spent almost two hours listening, reviewing, questioning me that day. Even when all my labs came back normal, he pushed for more, and in less than a months time ...I had over 23 blood tests. Finally, the day came and I was told you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis an auto immune disorder. I felt so relieved! Eight weeks later, the diagnosis of thyroid cancer was scary, but also in a way my salvation.

I am vindicated after ten long years. I am not crazy. It wasn't in my head. I was dying. And now...I am so very alive, and so very free.

I still cringe when someone coughs. I reach into my bag for my Lysol. My eyes dart to see if they are feverish, or looking pale. Are they in that contagious stage? The difference is now that my thyroid and my tumor are gone...I remind myself, I don't get sick. My immune system is functioning properly, so I am quick to dismiss my fears and relax.

It's a small, but proud victory for me.  

A letter I wrote on DearThyroid.org

Aug 27, 2010 - 5 comments
Tags:

papillary

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Thyroid Cancer

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thyroidectomy

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Hypothyroidism

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Hashimoto's

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RAI 131 radioactive iodine



Dear Thyroid,



It’s been almost a year since we parted ways. My mother worried I was being overzealous, and expressed her opinion that maybe I should reconsider our separation. Others tried to be supportive of my choosing to leave you, but I could always catch a tiny bit of doubt in their eyes. Some said I wouldn’t make it without you, they said I’d be a fool to leave you.



The unknown is a scary place. There are some things in life you have to do alone. I’d wondered if I was making a mistake…how would my life be without you, after what seems a life time together? Secretly, I wasn’t sure I could make it without you. Over the years you made me doubt myself as a wife, a mother, and a woman. You made me so tired, and at other times, so ugly inside, and out. You scarred me in more ways than words can express. I was dying inside, I had to choose to live without you.



The decision was the right one, I know that now. It’s taken me a while to really believe that my life is better without you. Changing my life, and redefining who I am as a woman wasn’t an easy task to complete. I am grateful for each day that I grow stronger. The scars you left on me remind me of my strength, and my courage. It reminds me of my faith in God, and that I am not a victim. I am a survivor, today, and forever.



Yours Truly,

Justi

Bringing Sexy Out of the Thyloset

Aug 27, 2010 - 0 comments

I was asked to type some stuff...I'm sloppy, I'm messy and I'm bringing sexy out of the thyloset with some friends!

Random questions I answered for DearThyroid.org (beware this site is R rated just like me!)

What kind of thyroid cancer were you diagnosed with? How many years have you been a survivor?
  I found my doctor August 2009, the one who finally listened to me. All my blood labs were “normal” except he noted my antibodies were odd, and a lump on my thyroid.

  I was told I had a 25% chance of cancer, so I volunteered to have a total thyroidectomy in Nov. 2009. They called two weeks later to tell me I “had” Papillary Follicular thyroid cancer on the isthmus of my thyroid. They also confirmed I have lived most of my adult life undiagnosed with Hashimotos auto immune disorder. So much for 25% chance of cancer…

September is thyroid cancer awareness month. What does that mean to you? Why do you think awareness is important? How do you spread awareness?
This is my first year in the THYCA clan. Awareness can save lives. Too many young men and women think that cancer is an old person’s disease. Sadly it’s far from the truth. I have been preaching to all the ladies, once a month when you check your TA-Ta’s to please include checking your neck! I kept a blog log of my diagnosis, my thyroidectomy, my days during the hypo preparation phase, my adventure in RAI and more on MedHelp.com open to the public to try to let others be informed and connected,

Many thyroid cancer patients have been told, “If you have to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get.”  What do you think of that statement? When you’re told this, how do you respond?

  My husband and I both got “golden ticket” cancers. My husband was told he has the cancer people line up for, a “golden ticket” cancer. What a prize to win on a 60/40 medical plan.

  My non-smoking husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 24. He had to have gallium scans, two bone marrow extractions (he felt every agonizing jab into his marrow, while I helplessly watched), surgical removal of a rib bone to gain access to his tumor in his chest, a separate surgery to insert the chemo port under his skin, near his heart… too many blood tests, MRI’s and many CAT Scans, then radiation five days a week for months (or the daily shake, and bake is what I called it)…then came the chemo cocktail once a week for months. He finished all his treatments just as he started developing tiny blisters all over his hands. His oncologist said it was blistering from the inside out, due to the chemo cocktail he was served weekly.

  I have to say I am lucky, and unlucky. I got the total thyroid removal, the RAI 131 100 Mci treatment, the torturous low iodine diet, and the old school no medication for almost 3 weeks of hypo hell that almost destroyed me. My doctor said, “Wow, you are lucky to get this cancer.”

  Hooray, I am another “golden ticket” winner, this time with a slightly better medical plan. Somehow I can look at both sides, where I am lucky, and I am unlucky.  

  My husband and I baffle our doctors with both of us getting a supposed “rare” cancer that plagues “healthy” people. I still contend, after all of this…we should have developed super powers, and I should have a cool cape with a super body!


Dear Thyroid is constantly working to dispel the myth that thyroid cancer is the good cancer or the easy cancer. What other myth would you like to dispel regarding thyroid cancer?
  That it’s a middle aged woman’s disease. Young, old, male or female…thyroid cancer is happening more, and more to both genders at an alarming young age!

What one thing would you tell the world about thyroid cancer?
  It’s one of the “healthy” people cancers. This cancer does not care if you eat well, if you are a smoker, if you are young, or if you jog…this cancer does not discriminate. Check YOUR THYROID each month!

What advice would you give to a newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patient?
  Educate yourself! Do NOT rely on doctors for your answers. Join support groups, go to the library, befriend doctors, read! Be vigilant in your research of not just your disease, but the doctors you choose to help you on your path of better health. Do not let this disease define you, rather help be someone who helps change the very definition of this disease!

Do you have a funny thyroid cancer-related story you are willing to share?
      When I was preparing for my RAI 131 treatment, doing the low iodine diet, and hypo hell I had to eat lots of veggies. It was terrible dealing with diarrhea one day and constipation the next.

  I also found that the new low iodine diet made me fart like a gorilla in the mist! Sweet Lord!! My children kept checking to see if it's "clear" before approaching me. One morning I let a fart fly that was over 5 seconds LONG! No hiding that one! Even with the bathroom door closed! I remember my kind hearted husband yelled from outside the bathroom door, "Heyyyyy, that's not just sexy, that's classy annnnnd sexy!" LOL!


Information about Dear Thyroid to include in your post: Dear Thyroid is a thyroid support community and literary brand. Our goal is to connect patients with each other, to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers, and to give all thyroid patients a voice. We come together as a united front to invoke change on behalf of thyroid patients worldwide. Thyroid patients are invited to submit letters to their thyroids, thyroid rants and raves, and other literary creations. Help us to create awareness for thyroid diseases and cancers by wearing your disease on your sleeve and by requesting one of our free awareness bands. Visit DearThyroid.org to learn more!