Updated: Feb 17, 2020
I have been waiting to post about this for sometime now - essentially since Dec 23rd when I felt the lump in my neck while I was walking down an aisle at my local grocery store, Publix. I couldn't believe it, so I got out my phone and took a selfie really quick to see if i could see anything. Rob was behind me shopping and my Mom was in the next aisle over. Fear and panic came across me immediately, as I knew this lump was not supposed to be there. I waited for another 15 minutes or so, before I just couldn't help but blurt it out. "Mom, Robert - - do you see this lump?", I asked them. They saw it too, but really no panic from any of us just yet. I went on with Christmas celebrations, thinking and hoping that this was a swollen lymph node from an bronchial infection or something. But, it didn't go down. I went to the doctor on Jan 3rd and he indicated it was a lymph node and sent me to have an ultrasound (US). That US tech indicated that this was a lump in the thyroid. It was becoming a cluster to say the least. What is this thing? The doctor at the imaging was not helpful when I asked him why he didn't write "thyroid" on the US report. He was short and said "it doesn't matter if it is lymph or thyroid, it needs to be biopsied" and basically hung up on me. Of course in my mind, it mattered. One - they should know if they are looking at! And two - the seriousness based on what I saw on the imaging, makes a big difference to me.
I was sent off for my FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) biopsy. The hospital was confused as to why I was there for a lymph node FNA when this was clearly the thyroid. At that point, I started to feel a bit better that SOMEONE was identifying what this was. I had the FNA without issue, except it bled as they pulled out the needle, and that was not a good sign to me. See, I have over a dozen fibroid nodules/adenomas in my body, and for years I have had them tested, ultrasounded, even one removed from my left breast. But all of them were benign. They have all been biopsied and none of them bled. This one was vascular and that's not always the best sign.
On January 17th, my doctor still had not called with the results of the biopsy, so I called the hospital and they said the pathology report was there and I could pick it up by 5:00 pm. It was 4:37 pm, so I jumped in the car and went to get the report. I opened the manila envelope and pulled out the one page and read "suspicious for papillary carcinoma". Well.. my heart sank and tears started. Not what I wanted to see.
It has been a long month since that moment. Many doctor appointments, many surgical appointments, many decisions to make. In the midst of it all, I was not handling it well at all. I started to have anxiety attacks, dizzy spells (now I know that was fear and a contact lens prescription that was not right), inability to think straight, and more. I see now what stress can really do to the mind and body.
I have found out a lot about the thyroid gland. And basically, there is only one way to find out for sure what is going on and that is to take out half or the entire thyroid. Needless to say, I had some decisions I had to make. Since they can't confirm whether it is or is not the C word until it comes out, I knew that surgery is coming no matter what. The lump is almost 3 cm and way to big to leave in there. In addition, a blessing - my ENT confirmed that it is not wrapped up in my vocal cords - thank you God! But the surgeon has to be very careful not to touch the vocal nerves (4 of them). I had to decide to take out half or total - knowing that I might have to go back for a second surgery if indeed there is a problem. Quite frankly, I could go on and on - but overwhelmed doesn't begin to explain what I have been feeling.
And with that, brings me to my point in all of this. I am coming clean. This has rocked my faith to the core. For the past 6 years, I have lost so much - starting with my wonderful father, my beloved fur baby Lily, my dear Grandmother, my Dad's best friend, watched and fought along side my beautiful brother for a year with brain cancer, just to lose him a year ago. And now this. And quite frankly, it's just a lot. I have praised God through all of these storms, even leading worship/singing just 2 days after my brother's funeral at an event with over 100 ministers. I have remained faithful. I have accepted that God is going to make good of all of this sadness. That I am grateful that I know I will see my loved ones again. However, this time, my ability to make this "seem right" in my head and heart wasn't working. I was having a hard time reconciling this with God. I know He didn't cause this, but why didn't He prevent this? I knew at that point, I was breaking and nothing, nothing was going to justify this in my mind.
I have been back and forth on the pendulum. I feel acceptance coming on. I feel surrender coming on. I see blessings that the genetic markers didn't indicate the C word, but there is still a 25% chance. I see beauty for ashes. And then I get mad again. And madder after that. My connection with God is to sing, so I keep doing events and singing His praises because praying right now is not coming easy for me. I want to pray for this not to be happening (the worry, the fear, the "not another something to deal with"). Because I can't get past the "WHY". I pray that is coming soon. I have learned for the past 6 years that you have to quit asking earthly questions that only have heavenly answers.
Today, it was a tough morning. But 2 of my dear friends (one local and one not local) who know of what I have going on reached out. Both are C word survivors and I admire them so much. One said - "take it easy and take care of nothing else but yourself". And I needed the "OK" to not be "OK" from her. And the other one that is local got my text and came over unannounced. And I cried and told her where I was spiritually and she said "beauty for ashes" and I knew God was in the midst. A black and gold butterfly flew by right after that (my sign that Jeff is near), and I knew he was in the midst. And to my other friend, another survivor, spoke with me in length this week and I needed to hear of her hope. And to my other survivor friend, who is still fighting her battle, she just is the energizer "warrior" bunny - she keeps on going and encouraging me all the while. To all of these survivors/dear friends of mine - THANK YOU! Thank you for letting me be sad, mad, helpless, hopeful, hopeless, and faithful all at the same time. True friends that just know, because they have been through the fear of the unknown. They related and they were present. And to my other friends that have been checking in on me - thank you so much!! It means the world to me. And last but not least, to my Mom and Robert and Michelle who have been there since the lump appeared - thank you for being there for me, even when it might not have been easy.
I am scheduled for surgery with a great doctor in Miami on Tuesday, March 17th - Happy St. McThyroid Day!! No longer St. Patty's day! I am having a partial lobectomy.
As for my faith journey, I press on and God carries me the rest of the way. I have hope that His love endures forever. I have hope that He will do something good out of this. I have found a courage to press on, through His presence, when I really don't feel like I am up to another battle after the past 6 years. But, you suit up. Because there are so many other people that are dealing with this and far more worse situations, and they are suiting up. Because, in the midst of nothing making sense to the "WHY" is this happening, suiting up is the next step you have to take so you can continue to praise Him through another trial.
God bless you all,