Evaluation and Reflection

As I think about it, I was just not understanding this whole wait and watch approach to my situation. However, I truly appreciate Dr. Bentz for opening my eyes and getting me to see the bigger picture. He has helped me to see the inherent risk that could happen if they tried going back in now and the damage that could happen to my laryngeal nerve, as a result. Although Dr. Song has told me the same thing several times, I guess it just never quite sunk in my head and I needed someone else to keep driving that point home to me. I just didn’t really like the answers I was given and was hoping for a different solution.

What I appreciate most about Dr. Bentz is that he has always been totally upfront with me, never sugar coating anything – he holds nothing back and tells it like it is no matter how ugly the truth can be. He always seems to know what I need to hear whether it be good or bad, and has had this ability in getting me to see things that others just haven’t been able to, but not because they haven’t tried. Some people just have that knack or skill to help you to see what should be obvious and a no-brainer, but we somehow need that extra push to get that light to turn on and wake us up. Dr. Bentz has given me such a fresh perspective which has helped me to take a step back and reframe how I look at things.

Prior to consulting back with Dr. Bentz is when I think that I hit my lowest point in this journey where I felt such despair as there was no easy answers to my situation. It was almost like I was being pulled into this deep, dark pit and could never reach to the top no matter how hard I tried. It felt as though I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I play this waiting game and hope that the cancer does not grow and spread further, or do I push my docs to get this nasty cancer out and cause potential major injuries which could present many more challenges for me? Nevertheless, I am grateful to Dr. Bentz helping me to understand that I need to trust in these decisions being made; it really was in my best interest to watch this cancerous nodule for further growth, because the option of surgery just presented too many risks. I’ve also had many good friends encouraging me to trust in my docs decisions as well. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel after all.

I believe one of the hardest concepts for a cancer patient to grasp is the waiting and the unknown; at least it has been for me. You are in this holding pattern as doctors just don’t know what the behavior of these cancer cells are and what they are going to do as they seem to have a mind of their own and can be so unpredictable. Docs can only make the best estimated guess on what the right protocols are; they make the best decisions they can based on standards, trends and through their own experience and that of their colleagues, by trial and error. I have gained a much better understanding and appreciation for doctors and the decisions they have to make, even when those choices can be difficult. I now realize that the waiting and unknown is just the nature of the beast and it has taught me about having patience, one concept that has been a challenge for me in this journey. I’m usually a fairly patient person with other people, but when it comes to things for myself I want things when I want it on my timetable and this journey has taught me that it just doesn’t work that way.

Watch and Wait/Vacation

So the next few months I kept pondering over this wait and watch approach as I had doubts if the right decisions were being made. We were going to be on vacation in Utah as Jerome had his High School reunion that he wanted to attend. So I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? I wanted to go back to consult with Dr. Bentz and so I went ahead and made an appointment with him. It was unfortunate that he could only see me on Jerome’s birthday. I’m sure that is not how he wanted to spend his birthday, by going to the doctors. However, I have such an amazing husband and he supported me in my decision to go and talk with Dr. Bentz as I just wanted to know if he concurred with Dr. Song and the endos on this whole waiting game thing.

Needless to say that was a good appointment and the best thing that I did for myself. I had many questions and was hoping that he could shed some light on all this. At first, Dr. Bentz thought I was coming back to return care with him, but then explained that I just wanted to talk with him about the current treatment plan and if it was a good plan or not. I explained that my Tg was on the rise. The Tg (thyroglobulin) is the tumor marker that will show if there are cancer cells present somewhere. He did explain to me and we discussed in great length on those tumors that are just watched. He said something that really made me think and I will never forget it. He said that sometimes the best treatment plan is no treatment at all. He was in agreement with Dr. Song in watching the nodule for further growth, as another surgery just presented too many risks. I had also asked him about the BRAF mutation which can be seen in aggressive thyroid cancers and he gave me a bit more information on that as well.

I explained that the endos were recommending more Radiation treatment if the Tg continued to climb. He suggested that I could obtain a second opinion from another endo as well; however, I don’t think that is really an issue as I do love my endo team. I guess I was just hoping against all hope that Dr. Bentz would have a different solution and I just wanted him to make this all go away! After talking at length with him I felt a little bit better about the plan and he gave me a lot to think about. However, he could see right through me and he sensed that I was having anxiety over this, a lot more than I was willing to admit to him and to myself! Did I really think that I could slide this past him? I was only hoping that he wouldn’t notice, but I guess he has that keen instinct to know when something is off! Nevertheless, he’s always had a way of easing my fears and keeping me calm.

While in Utah we also spent some time vacationing and it was Jerome’s thirty-year high school reunion which was held in Park City. We spent the day exploring the area and even rode the zip-line. Talk about scary – at least for me, as I have a fear of heights. Why I let my husband talk me into riding that thing I’ll never know, but I guess I just have to keep an open mind and be adventurous sometimes. How I made it going down that mountain was a miracle and I think I must have closed my eyes the entire way! At the reunion it was great reconnecting with old friends, we both went to the same high school and my thirty-year reunion will be next year.

On our travels we went from Colorado to Utah and back driving through the state of Wyoming. That has got to be the most boring drive ever! There is literally nothing in Wyoming, how people would want to live there just baffles me. It is pretty much desolate, almost like driving in the desert in California. It took us around ten hours to travel with stopping for gas and what not as we were not in a big hurry, but we probably could have made it in a shorter amount of time. It was nice being able to get away from Colorado for a while and to take a break from everything and spend some much-needed time together.