life is a journey

Oh what a journey it has been!  With just a few days left in 2014, I have been reminiscing as most of us do.  I didn’t post on my blog all year!  It isn’t because I’m cured and never think about surviving cancer.  I still go for my follow up visits to the doctor every six months and get blood work and scans. Earlier this year, my scan showed a tiny dot the size of a pinpoint that will need further testing.  It’s too small to biopsy.  I had a choice to focus on the fearful thoughts of “OH NO!! How can this be?! Has the cancer come back? Why oh why?”  Or I could put it in perspective.  If the spot is too small to test, why worry?  Why give such a tiny little spot SOOOO much energy and power?  Nah!  I’ve been down that road on this journey called life before.  That is an old chapter and I’m moving forward.

The new chapter is 2015 and it’s going to be a good one!  No matter what, I will be alright.  This year, I am going to give power to what brings me joy like writing, meditating and hiking!  I’m going to spend more time with family and friends.  I’m going to let go and enjoy the journey!!

How about you?  What would you like your journey in 2015 to look like?  What will you continue doing?  What will you let go of?  What are you ready to change?

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“Cancer comes into a life and worms its way in. It’s the unspoken presence every day of the person’s life—‘the cancer’s back’ or ‘in remission’ are common references in the life of the person with cancer. However, it continues to be the people who can fight it that make the whole disease seem beatable and worth fighting.” ~Anonymous

I was so touched by this inspiring quote, that I had to share it with all of you.  There were so many thoughts that came up for me when I read it.  As a cancer survivor, I can look back and see that it was a fight.  There were so many times that I wanted to give up, but I kept on going.  I am grateful to be in remission.  There is an “unspoken presence” ever since I was diagnosed.  I don’t feel it most days, but it is there.  It is something that I have accepted.

My hope is to stay in remission.  There is a recurrence rate of about 30% with my type of cancer.  But percentages don’t really mean much to me.  When they found my tumor, I was told that there was a 95% chance that it was non-malignant.  Regardless of the percentage, I knew in my gut that it was cancer.  When the results came back, it was confirmed that the tumor was malignant.  I was one of the people in the 5% category.  Those were not odds that I was happy about beating.  But it did teach me not to give percentages too much power.

I also learned that my health and well-being were worth fighting for.  Surviving cancer was worth the fight.  I was worth the fight!  It changed me.  I discovered my inner-voice and spoke up instead of staying silent.  I asked doctors all of my questions, instead of filtering the ones out that didn’t seem important.  I made the calls to my insurance company many times to resolve issues with coverage and billing instead paying the first bill I received.  I didn’t pay the price for the disconnect within the healthcare system.  I opened my mouth and talked about how I felt and didn’t pretend that everything was alright all of the time.  I prayed and prayed and had faith that it would all work out.  I created this blog to share my experience and help others.  In turn, I was able to get my virtual voice heard.  And to my pleasant surprise, I have gotten back so much love and support in return.

We are all worth the fight!

Awesome News!!! My blood test results show my Tg level was undetectable after the thyrogen shots! This means I am still cancer -free!! Oh yeah!! That’s right!! Thanks for the prayers and much appreciated support!! (Happy Dance)

What a difference a week makes. Last week was shots, blood work, fear and praying.  Fast forward it a week after I got the results and I’m at ease.  I can go on and live my life with all of this behind me.  Sure there will be another follow-up test in 6 months, but that is a long ways away.  There is no point in thinking about it.  I am focusing on the here and now.  That is where life happens!!

To all cancer survivors (including people newly diagnosed, battling cancer and going through treatment), continue to reach out for help, put one foot in front of the other and fight the fight!! You never know what tomorrow will bring, so be grateful for the blessings you have today!!

At times I wonder if certain cancer treatments are more dangerous or harmful than cancer itself.  A couple of years ago, my cancer treatment made me radioactive for a couple of weeks to kill the remaining cancer cells.  (No, I did not glow.)  But I was isolated from friends and family for over 3 days.  They even gave me a letter to carry in case the radioactivity left in my body set off any alarms in government buildings or airports! That caused me to step back and wonder if that treatment was worth the risk.  It worked, so I guess it was.

I have friends that have gone through chemotherapy and take all kinds of medications with terrible side effects to treat cancer.  The goal is to kill the cancer, not the person.  At times, I wonder if the doctors remember that part.  It seems like the side effects from the treatments drain what little energy is left in our bodies at the time.

I’ve moved on from cancer treatment to cancer follow-up procedures.  My doctor recommended that I get Thyrogen shots and blood work to see if my levels change.  The Thyrogen stimulates the cancer producing cells.  The shots are administered two days in a row.  One shot is the left buttocks and the other shot in the right.  It is literally a pain in the @ss!  I got the first shot this morning.  Ouch!! It hurt and burned.  Now I have a headache and feel a little nauseous from the Thyrogen.  I don’t want to go back tomorrow for the second shot.  I’ve learned that part of surviving cancer is staying positive and doing things that I don’t necessarily want to do.  I will continue to fight the fight!!!

The results should be back next week.  I will do my best NOT to think about it and live my life. (Although every time I sit, my sore butt will remind me of the shots!) There is no point in worrying about it today.  I will need to remind myself of this several times a day.  If the blood work results are high enough to detect cancer, then they will move forward with treatment.  If not, then I will continue going back every six months for follow-up visits and testing.  Either way, I guess this pain in the @ss it worth it.  I am praying that the results are good.  Regardless, I will get through it and continue sharing my journey.

xoxo,

Thyro-Jenn

As a cancer survivor, I get to go back for follow-up doctor visits, blood work, scans and more every six months.  Here we go again!  I got the blood work done yesterday.  Tomorrow I go to have my ultrasound scan after work.  Then I have an appointment with my doctor to go over the results at the end of next week.  Deja Vu!!

I’m getting the hang of it now.  The fear seems to lessen each time.  I’ve learned that worrying and negative thinking does not do me any good mentally, spiritually or physically.  (It reminds me of this quote I found.  “Worry is a huge waste of time; it doesn’t change anything, except maybe your blood pressure!” ~Author Unknown)

Trust me, I can list many other things that I would rather do with my time then getting more tests, scans and sitting in doctors offices.  But the reality is that I need to continue to be responsible for my health be doing these things. In turn, I am able to live a healthy life and free from cancer.

 

  

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~Thornton Wilder

   

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. Our family got together for lunch and spent a couple of hours together.  There was a moment when I stopped and looked around the table and felt so much gratitude in my heart for each one of them.  They mean the world to me.  I’m grateful to have them in my life, as my family.  I used to take that for granted.  Being a cancer survivor, reminded me once again of how precious life is and how fast things can chance without warning.  Everything seems to shine a little brighter now.  

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.  
 The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

   

I’m grateful for it all now.  Every little thing counts.  I have energy to go out and enjoy life.  I’m able to be present and not caught in my mind with worry about test results and doctors appointments.  I can eat whatever I want without limitations from having to be on a low-iodine diet.  I am able to taste my food again without a mild metallic aftertaste caused by my cancer treatment.  I sleep soundly and feel refreshed in the morning. I have health insurance that covered most of my medical bills.  The list goes on and on.   

“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally “count our blessings,” give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” ~Shakti Gawain

   

You certainly don’t have to be a cancer survivor to have an attitude of gratitude.  Everyone has at least a few things to be grateful for.  Taking time to take a look at those things is a gift in itself.  Many people are too busy rushing through their daily routinues to slow down long enough to be grateful.   When was the last time you thought about what you’re grateful for?  Now is a good time to do it!  I encourage you to leave a comment about what you are grateful for.

 

 

The following is from part of an online article called “Friends in Need – Online social media promote connection, education, and support” by Karen Patterson

“A survey last fall by Manhattan Research found about 35 percent of U.S. adults use online support sites and other health-related social media. In just two years, the American Cancer Society has developed followings of more than 16,000 people on Twitter, and nearly 170,000 on Facebook.

“Everybody agrees that social media and the Internet are becoming very important in terms of public health issues,” says John Mack, executive editor and publisher of Pharma Marketing News and Pharma Marketing Blog. “It’s where people now go to first when they’re trying to find out about medical conditions, even before they talk to their doctor.”

One key attraction is that any person, anywhere—whether they are a patient, survivor, caregiver, family member, or friend—can find someone else in similar circumstances.

“The Internet in general and, more recently, social media are really what led to the whole young adult movement,” says Heidi Adams, founder of Planet Cancer, a social and informational site for young adults with cancer, and director of grassroots engagement for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. “Prior to 2000 there really wasn’t any way for this fragmented patient population to find each other and connect. Planet Cancer was created as an online home to connect patients.”

Thyroid Cancer SURVIVOR’s thoughts:  If you are reading this post, chances are that you are also part of one of the hundreds of social media sites.  I admit it.  I have spread my cancer survivor spirit out into a few of them.  And in turn, I have “friended” and “followed” some very inspiring cancer survivors.  There are several “virtual” cancer survivor support groups on Facebook and today I started my own called the “Cancer SURVIVORS” group on Facebook. So consider this your personal invitation  to join the group!  

If tweeting is your thing, I also have an account on Twitter.  I have been active on this one for a few months now.  I was surprised at how many people talk about thyroid cancer on their.  I have met some very cool cancer survivors, including my friend Chris who is the captain of our Wings of Hope team in the upcoming American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life! So feel free to follow me on Twitter and we can connect in 140 characters or less.