Here we go again!!

It is very true that anything can change on a dime. I thought I would be in the clear for the next six months at least that is what I kept hoping for. However, those hopes came crashing down when I was told that the appearance of my nodule on my laryngeal nerve they have been following the last three years was starting to change in ways which were not good. The nodule started showing changes with more and more increased calcification, which is pretty much just a fancy word they use to mean suspected malignancy. I knew before I had the recent neck ultrasound that deep down in my gut something was just not right and trying with all my might to brush those bad feelings aside, but it was a nagging feeling that just wasn’t going away. I knew the day would come I would be treading these waters once again, but was just hoping it would happen much later down the road.

So, here it is the month of January which is when my initial diagnosis took place four years ago. Makes me wonder if this could this mean a bad omen that history is starting to repeat itself once again? We have been dancing around this for the past three years watching and waiting to see what this suspicious nodule was going to do. With these changes on the ultrasound, my surgeon, Dr. Song felt that we needed to take action and repeat the FNA to determine if the cells were positive for malignancy and if so, we would discuss making another attempt at trying to remove this nodule for good. On 29 January I was in the Ultrasound Department at University of Colorado Hospital once again prepping for biopsy #3. Since my husband couldn’t be with me during the biopsy, because he is on deployment, I had my youngest daughter with me for moral support. My husband and I have traveled this road before in which we have been separated oceans apart and you’d think I would be used to this as we’ve done it before; however, it is difficult nonetheless. It has been so challenging the last few weeks knowing what is in front of me and not having my biggest supporter around me. However, the most positive thing is that my better half and best friend will be back from his deployment by the end of this day which makes me one very happy girl! So when you talk of peaks and valleys of your day, for me most definitely the return of my husband is my peak, whereas my valley is having this biopsy.

I am so fortunate to have the same doctor who performed the last biopsy; in fact I actually requested her specifically. It was Dr. Kristen McKinney, who is an interventional radiologist who is truly fantastic and really knows what she is doing.  Just like the last one it is done using ultrasonic guidance so that they can pinpoint the location of the nodule accurately in order to withdraw out the suspected cells. So then, the million dollar question of the day is going to be whether or not the cells are positive for malignancy. I just have to cross my fingers and say a prayer that it is not, but I know that it could be a real possibility.

So they prepped my neck with that ugly brown betadine to sterilize the field. Here it goes again with the first stab where they inject the numbing medicine to ease the pain.  Then the next needle goes in directing at the targeted area. The radiologist goes back and forth to draw out the cells in the nodule and I feel a lot of pressure like someone sitting right on top of my windpipe. So then I just try to breathe my way through it, the best I can. She does 1, 2 and then 3 passes to get adequate tissue placed on the slides for pathology. Dr. McKinney asked me before she left the room if I wanted to know the results to which I replied a resounding yes! So all the medical personnel leave the room and we wait…and wait… and wait. Then when Dr. McKinney returns and I see that look on her face, I know immediately….it is POSITIVE. She said there was no question that it was very clear cut that it was PTC (papillary thyroid cancer).

So now we know for sure that there is still remaining cancer in my body that I have lived with the last 4 years and now I have to prepare myself to discuss this hot mess with Dr. Song and the rest of my medical team on how we move forward. That is going to be the most dreaded conversation I have ever had with Dr. Song, but these decisions will be something that we will do together as a collective team and hope that we can come up with a solution that we can all live with.

Some very wise words of wisdom that I would like to share from Scott Stuart, a longtime Sportscaster who unfortunately lost his cancer battle, I believe the truth of this statement says it all in how we fight this foe:

 

Scott Stuart wisdom

 

 

Simply put, there are no guarantees in life and what I have learned is that you just have to keep rolling with the punches, to which this cancer has surely given me a fair share of! No matter what keeps coming my way I have to remain positive and push forward as I CANNOT LET CANCER WIN!!!

Faith & Hope

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This cancer experience has been such a faith-building journey that has had many ups and downs, but one that I hold dear to me as I have learned so many valuable life lessons because of what I have had to go through. I have had to learn how to trust and by the grace of God I have come to know that we all have challenges or hiccups in life; it is by exercising that faith that we are able to endure those trials and challenges we are faced with, no matter how difficult.

There is a song by the band, Kutless, which is entitled, “Even if” which is a song about praising God even if we are experiencing difficult times in our life. Sometimes in life the answers to our most heartfelt prayers are simply NO. We just have to put our trust in God and accept what he has planned for our life, even if it is difficult for us to understand at the time. I would like to share the music video for this song which is something that really applies to me:

 

 

There is another song that resonates so much with me with what I have been through and experienced throughout this journey. I believe it has an important message that God is with us during the good as well as the difficult times in our lives and I’m including that music video for this song as well:

 

 

There are some that may even question the existence of God and we are all entitled to our own personal beliefs, but I don’t need tangible evidence to know that there is a higher presence, because I know it in my heart. It really is a freaking miracle that I am here and have a voice to even speak and I firmly believe that God truly guided my surgeon’s hands for them to accomplish what they did. God is the One who is bigger than you or bigger than me and is all knowing.

Although that complete healing just never quite came for me, the lyrics to these songs have spoke volumes to me and have been such a great reminder that God is with me always as I walk in these shoes that have been put before me.  He placed this trial in my life for a reason and is something which has helped me to grow as a person. Even during the darkest moments in our lives, the one thing we can look toward is hope. When we think that we just can’t possibly keep going during a difficult circumstance we can find that hope that can get us through those difficult times. There is another song that I want to share that helps me understand that I can always rely on hope:

 

 

God knows our fears, pains and struggles that we go through. Although at times it may feel as though it is hard to feel his presence, we have to put our trust and faith in Him that he will get us through these difficult challenges and dark days in our lives. Even though it may be difficult to see that light at the end of the tunnel, we can rely on the fact that there will always be better days ahead of us. God led me to this challenge and has been walking me through every step. He is really the true healer and will never forsake us no matter what trials and challenges we face in this life.

 

Moving On

When I first heard those words Stage 4 cancer, I thought that was a death sentence, but yet here it is three years later and I am still alive and kicking. My success in being able to survive this thus far is really owed to the skill and talents of my brilliant surgeons, endocrinologists and other medical professionals who have provided the needed encouragement for me to drive on. My fellow ThyCa warriors have also been there as well cheering me on and helping me to know that just because you have a Stage 4 cancer that it is NOT the end and that we continue to live our lives no differently, other than we cherish each breath we take and consider it a privilege to do so.

Having cancer has been the worst, best thing that has ever happened to me. Is that really possible to have something so bad happen, but yet so good at the same time? I have learned so many valuable life lessons along the way throughout this journey about having true courage, strength, hope and faith during this trial of my life. Now, I can say that I look at life in a much different light. I don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t let trivial things bother me so much anymore; I let things come as they may and I am no longer afraid of the uncertainties that lie ahead of me. Instead, I focus on what truly matters to me, the important people in my life, my wonderful family and friends who have been there to support me as I have waged through this battle. What is important and I have to remind myself is to live in the moment and not focus on the, what if scenarios that often play in my head. The key is to appreciate the moments we are given. This makes me think of another favorite quote of mine:

surrender

I have shared a few quotes throughout my story and it helps me in dealing with and understanding life and what I have experienced throughout this cancer journey. Life is all about gaining the right perspective and persevering despite the trials that we each have to go through in life. Some experiences are good, while others really test us to see what we are truly capable of. It is about believing in yourself that you can overcome obstacles that come your way. I hope that others who are going through challenging times can know that one is NEVER alone in any battle that we encounter. There is always someone who has been where you are and knows what you are going through as they have been there and done that. It is by sharing our stories and our life experiences that we can lift and support one another and I hope that I have accomplished that. I will continue to share my story so others know they are not alone in this war against cancer and in other battles we face each and every day.

Two Year’s Later

Just a few days before my two-year mark of being without my thyroid, I have now learned that Dr. Bentz is leaving the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He is moving on to another position with Fremont-Rideout Health Group in Yuba City, California. It will be a sad day for the Huntsman to lose such a dedicated professional, and I am positive that he will be greatly missed! In the same right, those at Fremont-Rideout Health Group will quickly know just what a huge asset they are gaining. I really wish him all the success in his new position and all his future endeavors.

Today, February 22, 2013 marks the two-year anniversary of having my cancer laden thyroid removed. It has been quite a ride and I have learned many lessons and I am sharing my story to benefit others who can learn to avoid the mistakes that I have made. In addition, I want to pay tribute to those who have helped me along the way and I can honor them by paying it forward in providing a ray of hope to those just starting their journey and others who are in the middle of theirs.