There Will Always Be Uncertainty
Fear can really mess with your emotions. It can toy with your hopes, play with your thoughts, and manipulate your mind. Today, fear took control of me – my thoughts, my actions, and basically my better judgement. And for this I am angry. I am angry because I gave fear the power to mess with my mind; and I am ashamed. I am ashamed because I needlessly spewed my tainted emotions at my child. I yelled at him; and not because he was acting out more than usual, but because I did not have the ability to cope with his tantrums and his demands. It was my big, shitty mommy-moment of the day. And all I can say is “F**K cancer”. Seriously. Does it ever get easier?
I talk a lot about my breast cancer diagnosis and the journey it has taken me on, but I have not really shared much about the first cancer I was diagnosed with. Nine months before I received my breast cancer diagnosis I received a shocking diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Shocking, because I had been closely followed by an Endocrinologist since 2001, with annual bloodwork, annual ultrasounds, and bi-annual biopsies for a cyst that was found in my right thyroid lobe. My results always came back normal, and my biopsies were negative for malignant cells. Good news!! My Endocrinologist did suggest a partial thyroidectomy to remove the right lobe, but the cyst within was relatively small, and my thyroid levels continued to remain normal. Despite having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, my gland was functioning so I simply left it alone. Why remove what isn’t broken? Surgery is invasive; and anaesthetics are my worst enemy. Also, a partial thyroidectomy meant an increased risk in vocal nerve damage as well as a possibility of triggering my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which was in remission. So I opted not to have surgery.
But all that changed… in May of 2014 I learned that the cyst in my right thyroid lobe had grown. My Endocrinologist urged me to have a partial thyroidectomy. I heeded her advice. I was a mommy to an 8mth old and I knew the responsible choice was surgery. So, four months later in September of 2014, only two weeks after my son’s 1st birthday I had a partial thyroidectomy. And then, two weeks after that, I was informed that I had invasive papillary microcarcinoma. In laymen’s terms? I had cancer.
What do you do with that information? When you are closely monitored for 13 years, and you receive a diagnosis of cancer post-surgery, it truly blows your mind. I mean, for 13 years I was led to believe that there was no cancer prevalent, so what was I supposed to do with the knowledge that I actually had cancer in my thyroid? What did I do? Naturally I panicked. I was a new mom, and this information scared me. I immediately called my Endocrinologist. We had a lengthy discussion about my diagnosis, and how I should move forward regarding my remaining thyroid gland. I wanted to know if there is cancer present in the left lobe. Her reply startled me. The only way they can determine if my left thyroid lobe is healthy or cancerous is by surgically removing it, therefore leaving me without a thyroid gland for the remainder of my life; and there is no guarantee that my left thyroid lobe is diseased. I have a 50% chance of it being a healthy organ, and a 50% chance of it being cancerous. I reeled from this news. I felt deceived. I felt angry. I felt fear. And I struggled with this knowledge. It was/is a complex situation to be in. Do you opt for surgery to remove an organ that might be completely healthy? Could I live, every day, with the knowledge that there could be a slow-growing cancer in me? Fast forward nine months, and WHAM!! I was hit with a breast cancer diagnosis, which then sent my thyroid cancer diagnosis spiralling to the very back of my mind. Until recently.
Recently – as in today – I had my thyroid ultrasound. These ultrasounds never used to upset me. In fact, years back, I actually fell asleep during one. But since being diagnosed with cancer – twice – my ability to handle these exams has diminished. I’m scared. I fear the sound of the machine and the feel of the examining table underneath me. These auditory and physical sensations trigger my memory, taking me back to that dreaded day when I realized they found cancer within my breast during a repeat exam in a room not too dissimilar to the one I found myself in today. And it’s a trip down memory lane that I do not wish to take. I’m thrown back into a dark void of uncertainty, fear, and helplessness. And it is so frustrating. Does it ever get easier? Does traversing this cancer journey ever get easier? Sometimes it feels like I am taking two steps forward and one step back. Yet, I know in my heart the journey does relent, and as time passes the darkness does subside. But that fear of the unknown will always be the hardest to bear. And that is where I am within this thyroid cancer debacle. I’m smack-dab in the midst of the unknown.
The point to all of this – is there a point? I don’t know. I guess, what I am trying to conclude more to myself than to anyone, is that you do what you can and make the best decisions you can, with the knowledge that you are given in the moment that you find yourself in. And sometimes you shut down, and sometimes you lash out. It’s life. It is the journey. And that journey will always have an unknown. There will always be fear. There will always be uncertainty. To live within it, yet still find joy, peace, happiness, smiles, laughter, and love is what it’s truly all about.
There Will Always Be Uncertainty. Published by Crystal Joy Hall