Thyroid Cancer


I hope this finds you all in good health.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. Happy belated New Year and early Spring!  

January 2017 marked 8 years since I went into remission from Papillary Thyroid Cancer. It changed the course of my life in many ways. 

When I was diagnosed with cancer I searched for information and could hardly find anything. It was one of the reasons I started this blog. I also wanted to share my journey and connect with other cancer survivors. It is comforting and healing to have other people to relate to when cancer comes into the picture. I also learned that cancer is cancer regardless of what “type” you have. We all go through a range of feelings and can lean on one another to get to the other side. 

For me, the biggest change through this journey was internally. Being diagnosed with cancer brought me closer to my Higher Power and gave me the chance to do some soul searching. I discovered how much it feeds my spirit to help others. 

With my new found courage, I became open to other career options that gave me a chance to fulfill my passion. I discovered coaching. It sounded like it was right up my alley. So I started the process to become a certified Life & Business Coach. I began working with clients in 2009 and got my ACC designation from the ICF in 2012. And I’ve been doing it ever since!

The fear and uncertainty of cancer pushed me beyond my comfort zone. When I’m faced with a challenge, I remind myself of this experience. It gives me motivation to overcome what comes my way. I am grateful for the experience. 

HOW HAS CANCER CHANGED YOU AND YOUR LIFE? 

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It has been way too long since i updated this blog. So here it goes…I went to another follow up appointment to go over the results of my blood work with my doctor. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done this routine over the years. Staying on top of these appointments is part of the process to make sure those cancer cells remain undetectable.

I’m still in the clear! I will never get tired of hearing that news. But this time there was an added nugget of hope. Instead of going back in 6 months, my doc said I come back in 12 months. Another milestone which warrants a brief happy dance. Woohoo!!! See you next year doc!

Cancer SURVIVOR - The Journey

As soon as I read “What Cancer Cannot Do” I felt my inner cancer SURVIVOR come out.  We tend to give cancer a lot of power.  It is part of the process to start blaming changes in our lives, relationships, outlook, attitude and choices on cancer.  The real deal is that each one of us has the power and inner-strength to focus on what we CAN do and what cancer CANNOT do.  It is a powerful exercise. 

I started thinking about what else could be added to the list.  I’m sharing it with all of my blog readers and asking you to add to the list as well.  Here is my version:

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot turn my world to darkness.

It cannot make the beauty of nature disappear.

It cannot take over my being.

It cannot drain my creativity.

It cannot silence my voice.

It cannot prevent me…

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As soon as I read “What Cancer Cannot Do” I felt my inner cancer SURVIVOR come out.  We tend to give cancer a lot of power.  It is part of the process to start blaming changes in our lives, relationships, outlook, attitude and choices on cancer.  The real deal is that each one of us has the power and inner-strength to focus on what we CAN do and what cancer CANNOT do.  It is a powerful exercise. 

I started thinking about what else could be added to the list.  I’m sharing it with all of my blog readers and asking you to add to the list as well.  Here is my version:

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot turn my world to darkness.

It cannot make the beauty of nature disappear.

It cannot take over my being.

It cannot drain my creativity.

It cannot silence my voice.

It cannot prevent me from spreading awareness and hope.

It cannot come between my connection with a Higher Power.

It cannot stop me from laughing and smiling.

It cannot take my will power.

It cannot make me give up.

It cannot take away my joy.

It cannot change my purpose in life.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at Labcorp listening for my name to be called.  Another “post-cancer follow-up” tour has begun.  I’ve been doing this tour twice a year now for three years.  The first stop on the tour is at Labcorp where I get my blood work done.  This is the stop where I begin to notice the worry and thoughts about “what if” come into my mind.   The second stop on the tour is at the radiologist’s office where I get a thyroid ultrasound.  The tour ends at my endocrinologist’s office where we go over the results and go from there. (They just called my name.  I need to go back to the next waiting room now!)

Ok, I’m back.  I must say, that was an uplifting experience.  The lab tech who drew my blood greeted me with a smile.  She was upbeat and has a positive attitude.  This is usually not the case.  I noticed a box on her workstation of Crayon Bandages.  I asked her what they were.  She walked over, took out a red one, stuck it over the gauze on my arm and said, “Here you go.  Let’s make this fun!” 

As I left Labcorp, I thought about how attitude goes a long way in life.  It is so easy to get caught back up in the cancer attitude and feel down when going back for medical treatment of follow-up procedures.  I tend to forget that there is a choice.  It doesn’t have to be a negative experience.  It all starts with my attitude. 

I kept the red crayon bandage and put it in a place where I would see if everyday.  It will now serve as a reminder for me to check my attitude.  It’s the little things like a red bandage that can deliver a big message and lesson in life.

June 5, 2011 marks the 24th annual National Cancer Survivors Day.  I feel so grateful to be one of the estimated 12 million cancer survivors in America.  Today is a day that I reflect on my journey.  According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation site, ” Hundreds of communities worldwide will host events on this day to celebrate life and demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive.  National Cancer Survivors Day is a treasured annual celebration of life. Joy and hope, camaraderie and faith, and triumph over adversity will be on full display. It is a day for everyone, whether you’re a cancer survivor, a family member, a friend, or a medical professional. This day provides an opportunity for cancer survivors to connect with other survivors, and recognize the healthcare providers, families, and friends who have supported them along the way.”

So many people, organizations and groups come together on this day to unite.  LIVESTRONG created a page with Stand Up to Cancer that allows survivors to express themselves.  There is a space on the page that links to your facebook status showing the answer to the question, “What Do You Want to Say to Cancer?”

“How are you going to honor this day?”  That is my question to you.

A couple of weeks ago I had a painful reminder from my salivary gland that the RAI (radioactive iodine) treatment is starting to take a toll.  Almost two years ago, I took RAI (I-131) to kill any remaining cancer cells lurking around in my thyroid tissue.  This was done a couple of weeks after my thyroidectomy.  I didn’t have any issues with my salivary glands during that time.
If it’s not one gland, it’s another.  Instead of my thyroid gland being diagnosed with cancer, now my parotid gland has been diagnosed with sialadenitis.  Oh joy!  At this point, it is hard to say if my sialadenitis of the parotid gland is a direct result of the RAI or not.  There is not too much research on the long-term effects of RAI to date.  However, I did find a case study in the JADA called Salivary Gland Injury Resulting From Exposure to Radioactive Iodine that was very informative.  According to this study, “In the majority of cases, when a patient receives therapeutic doses of 131I, the patient develops an asymmetric radiation sialadenitis. Obstructive symptomatology is to be expected. Oral dryness occurs less often and is related directly to high dosages and the passage of time. Clinicians should be aware of the condition to avoid unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic measures.”
Back to my story…
The pain and swelling continued for several days.  I finally went to the Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor) last week and was told to drink a lot of water, suck candies, massage the salivary gland area and put a warm compress on it. The goal is to keep the saliva flowing and wash away any blockage. I did all of those things and it got better. I went a couple of days without swelling or pain. Then this morning I had a few bites of breakfast and the pain came back with the swelling. Nooooo! Not again!! I took Advil, massaged the area and put on a warm compress. It helped. But a girls gotta eat, so by lunch time I tried again.  It didn’t go too well. I called and left a message for my ENT and am waiting to hear back. This is very frustrating. I’m trying to keep it in perspective. Things could always be worse. I’m grateful that the thyroid cancer is in remission. Since that is the reason the RAI was even done, I need to remind myself that it did work.
My life is really good! However, eating is kind of important, so I’m hoping my parotid gland gets better soon!  Until then, I will be massaging away, chain chewing gum and sucking candies, drinking lots of water and sharing my journey with all of you.
~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ♥ ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ ♥ ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ My parotid gland still hurts when I eat from the RAI (RadioActive Iodine). I get small bits of food caught in my throat at times. My vocal chords are still a little damaged from the thyroidectomy. My fear wakes up every 6 months when I go for follow-up scans and blood work. I get hot flashes and chills now more than ever. My memory is not was it was before. So I need to remind myself, despite it all. I FOUGHT THE FIGHT. I AM A CANCER SURVIVOR and THRIVER!!!  AND FOR THAT, I AM SO GRATEFUL!!

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