Monday, April 6, 2015

Life After Thyroid Cancer

Yes, I am calling it.  I have decided to consider myself DONE with thyroid cancer.  Since diagnosis in September, surgery in December, and now the radioactive iodine treatment in March, there is nothing left to do but adjust to life without a thyroid and focus on beating melanoma.  

As long as it doesn't come back within a year, I am considered a thyroid cancer Survivor.  Whoa big word... the first time that word has appeared on this blog.  

I am so sick of typing the words RADIOACTIVE IODINE TREATMENT and ENDOCRINOLOGIST - those call for writers' cramp all on their own!?!  Let's go with SURVIVOR.  

Technically I do not have the go-ahead to say that but who cares, this is my life, and I am going to do what I want, um.... like always.  LOL My support group friends might get a small chuckle out of that, as the "baby" of the group I was identified as "still having issues with the loss of control" in my life (that cancer provides), I am told a few more years of the cancer journey will knock the control issues right out of me.  

As I sat in my lead room (should have been padded room?) I willed the vile stuff in the capsule to chase down and destroy every remaining thyroid cancer cell in my body, and I did that with an inner strength I have not summoned with that kind of ferocity in a while.  So I am sure I nailed it - I have shit to do here people, no time for thyroid cancer!  

Just before I left, I wrote a private letter to my thyroid cancer, bidding it goodbye.  I thanked it for its part in my "journey," I read it out loud in that hateful room, and I folded up the letter and left it there in the garbage with my radioactive recycling. 

I have thrown out my radioactive toothbrush and done all of my separate isolation laundry and dishes: Good Bye Thyroid Cancer, it is Over between us!

So now I can go back to my fight with melanoma.  I am somehow still hanging on to my clinical trial, pending good results on my bloodwork on the 20th when I go.  

I see the endocrinologist next week, to check in on everything and get the results of my nuclear medicine full body scan.  Oh yes, I had that last week - coolest scan I have ever had by the way.  
So easy... no needles, no drinks: just lie still for an hour on a padded table with arm rests and a pillow under my knees, and the scanner thing quietly hovers above.  Speakin' my language!! I had a nap.  True story - I came out of the scan and stumbled into the waiting room to Scott and he was like "geez Nat, you might wanta fix your hair a bit, you look like you just woke up!"  hehe  I did.  :-)

Also notable: I am back on my thyroid hormone replacement medication yahoo!  For six weeks I take double the meds, then back onto the just one pill per day for the rest of my life.  I have even gotten into a good habit of waking up early to ever so briefly take the pill and go back to sleep so that I can have my beloved coffee IMMEDIATELY upon waking.  I don't even bitch about it anymore, I am so grateful to have it back.  
As for the other post-treatment symptoms I am experiencing, namely the swelling and exhaustion, my family physician suggests that it should all get back to normal soon, and if it persists longer than a month we will investigate further.  In the meantime I am trying to "be gentle with myself," drink plenty of water, rest as much as possible, not be pissy about having to cut the straps off my favourite Mary-Jane shoes, and look forward to being back on my feet, puffiness and concussion-symptoms FREE.  

A few more photos from my farewell to thyroid cancer...

The beautiful flowers my friend Rhonda sent me (that were not permitted in the area of the hospital I was staying in and caused Rhonda and the florist some grief going to the trouble of RE-delivering them to me on Wednesday while I was waiting for my ride home).  Thank you my friend, they were gorgeous:

The couple shots of tequila that I did end up having after all on my second night in isolation - thanks Jenn for the phone call date and partnership in cinnamon-booze drinking to help solve life's problems!  ;-) 

And last but certainly not least, the people who inspire me most, to call the shots on this one and fight fight fight:

Article & Photos © Natalie Richardson 2015

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