Radioactive (4th times a charm)…

So here we are again, isolated in my bedroom away from my kiddos, my husband, my Momma, family and friends. Most people say to take advantage and use this as a vacation but it’s just not possible for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve caught up on some Netflix shows and indulged on some lemon candies (lol it’s all i got).

But it honestly stops there, I have MAJOR Mom guilt – I’ve tried to let it go but as much as I hate our morning routines (like seriously, hate it) or homework and everything in between….I want to be there, to help, to be needed – and to get on my almost 10 year old daughter when she gives my mom attitude (even though I know she can handle it – she might have dealt with it before lol).

Then there is Spence, I was grateful that Mileigh and Conor (almost 10 and almost 8) were at a special “in-between” age where they didn’t NEED me all the time – they were 7.5 and 5.5 when I got diagnosed. They wanted me but they were also old enough that they understood Mommy had to take special medicine so they couldn’t be around me for a couple days. But Spence is only 6 months old….all he wants is Mommy right now and doesn’t understand why I just have to keep my distance for now. It hurts my heart when he cries every time I walk in the room. So for now, I just try to keep my distance and remember it’s only a few days. So needless to say, this time is different – my older two know the drill. They know if they ask me to do something, I’ll more than likely give them permission just to see them smile lol. Some mom’s can do this – they can enjoy their “me” time – and there is nothing wrong with that. To each their own. So for now I’ll try to take advantage of having the bed to myself, watching shows without interruption, and not having any responsibilities but know that I’m honestly counting down the days, hours, minutes until I can be around the rest of the world again.

It’s tough in this social butterfly to be away from it all….

Annual Follow Ups

So it’s been a while since I’ve written a post and what better time than now as I prepare for my annual appointments.

Today I start my Low Iodine diet which is needed prior to my annual Thyroid Cancer scans. I have to remove as much iodine from my diet in order for my scans to reflect the signs of recurrence or any other issues. My week long appointment in DC start in 2 weeks. Only those that have been diagnosed with cancer will truly understand what it’s like to prepare for any follow up blood work, ultrasounds, or scans.

Anxious, nervous, and a little bit stressed are a few of the many, many emotions I’ve got going on in my head. Along with positivity and strength!!! Hopefully this will be my last annual whole body scan for a few years but if y’all could keep me and my family in your prayers? This time around Mileigh and Conor have more questions as they are older and understand the precautions that need to be taken.

#ThyCa #ThyCaWarrior #strong #itsallgoingtobeok

National Cancer Survivor’s Day 2016

Happy National Cancer Survivor’s Day!!!

Seriously – we’ve made it! We’ve made it through surgery, treatment, and every emotionally and physically trying day since being diagnosed. This is NO easy feat – no matter what cancer you have or what stage it is. We are fighters, we are warriors but the best of all, we are survivors!!

So I just wanted to let you know what the word SURVIVOR means to me. But first we have to go back to shortly after my surgery, December of 2014. I was just getting home and adapting to my new life with no thyroid. I was on pain medication, muscle relaxers, my new thyroid replacement pill and and whole tray of additional medications. I remember both Spencer and my dad telling me “You’re a survivor!” (not to mention, many of my family and friends – they are just the ones telling me on a daily basis at home). Of course I “survived” surgery and I was going to beat the cancer, that so rudely came into my life and subjected me and my family to a year and a half of pain, tears, worries, stresses, and your can’t leave out the mountains of debt. But at the time, I thought Survivor meant I was in remission – but I hadn’t beat it yet, I wasn’t given a “No Evidence of Disease.” I remember the exact moment that I realized how wrong I truly was. I had just gone to my one  year check up following my radiation treatments (RAI), and I was glowing sitting in the waiting room because I just KNEW I would hear that there was “No Evidence of Disease” (NED) – because I fought so hard for 1 year and 4 months. Except that’s not what my Nuclear Medicine doctor told me at all. He said that I still had a small tumor or mass of Thyroid tissue behind my thyroid bed. He said it should have been gone, especially after the extremely high dose of the Radioactive Iodine (RAI) I was given one year before. I might need another dose or we might have to explore other options. I left that appointment feeling defeated; not to mention sad and angry and worried and a thousand other emotions! It was the next day that I was sick and tired of waiting to celebrate so I had my brother start drawing my tattoo. This was the tattoo I had been waiting to get until I was considered a “SURVIVOR” but it was that moment that I realized I didn’t need to wait. I had been a survivor all along. I was surviving every day since being diagnosed because that’s what it takes to get through it. Fighting and Surviving.

So today I celebrate the last one year, seven months and 17 days. I’ll be raising a glass tonight: for me, my ThyCa Sisters (and brothers), and all the amazing Survivors I know (and don’t know) in my life. This is for us!

To all of my Survivor friends and family, no matter the cancer, make this day special. Celebrate YOU – you are a SURVIVOR! Comment below what YOU are doing to celebrate! 🙂National_Cancer_Survivors_Day_2016-702x495

PS. I am loving that it’s exactly 6 days away from our Relay for Life. What a way to celebrate!!

World Thyroid Day

Today is World #Thyroid Day 2016! Join us in celebrating and supporting the American Thyroid Association, the European Thyroid Association, the Latin American Thyroid Society, and the Asia and Oceania Thyroid Association for continuing to develop key resources on #ThyroidCancer and thyroid disease. #ThyroidAwareness​

Relay for Life Team: All Night for the Fight

Ok yall, it’s time for Relay for Life!!! I couldn’t be more thrilled to have our own team this year and it’s going to be AWESOME!

An introduction to Relay for Life:

I’m going to be completely honest, prior to being diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, I had remembered hearing about it Relay for Life but had never participated in one. I was asked by my dear friend and neighbor last year to join her team, not truly understanding what it was all about. I can tell you, this experience was life changing. To see so many people coming together to help bring awareness, raise money, and support each other was just an incredible thing – and of course, it was FUN! Please, please, please come and hang out with us! 🙂

What is Relay for Life:

  • It’s an organized, overnight community fundraising walk for ALL cancers
  • Teams of people camp out around a track
  • Members of each team take turns walking around the track
  • Food, games, and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie
  • Family-friendly environment for the entire community

What makes Relay for Life more awesome?

  • In more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries, Relay for Life events comprise the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, raising more than $400 million dollars.
  • Survivors Lap: All cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while cheered on by other participants who line the track.
  • Luminaria Ceremony: Takes place after dark, so we can remember people we have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who’ve been affected by cancer.
  • Fight Back Ceremony: This emotionally powerful ceremony inspires Relay participants to take action. The Fight Back Ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment each of us can make in the fight against cancer. The action taken represents what we are willing to do for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives.

What to expect at a Relay Event?

  1. Relayers are welcomed in the Opening Ceremony.
  2. Relay starts with the Survivor Lap, when survivors walk to celebrate their victory over cancer.
  3. The Caregiver Lap recognizes those who have given care to cancer patients.
  4. All of the Relay teams are invited to walk together during the Opening Lap.
  5. Luminaria bags and candles are lit during the Luminaria Ceremony to honor loved ones who have passed or are fighting the disease.
  6. Individual Walking is observed throughout the night with Family Games, Activities, and Entertainment.
  7. The Fight Back Ceremony helps close the event. Relayers take a final lap and pledge to take action and spread awareness of cancer research, treatments, and prevention.

How can YOU help?

  • Join our team!! Seriously, it’s going to be a BLAST! Whether you can come for an hour or all night – come hang out, walk a couple laps with us and celebrate those that are fighting and honor those that we have lost.
  • Help raise money – share our team link (see below) to your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media. It doesn’t matter if you can give back $5 or raise $50, anything helps!!
  • Donate a Luminaria Bag/Torch – You can choose to decorate a bag (see me for details) or you can purchase online and the event will have a bag for you lining the track, including “In Honor Of”, “In Memory Of”, or “In Support Of”.
    • White Luminaria Bag – $10 (or 3 for $25)
    • Blue Luminaria Bag – 3 for $25
    • Tiki Torch of Hope – $30 (or $35 includes a keepsake)
  • Come support us!! Even if you aren’t interested in walking with our team, just come be apart of this fantatic opportunity – come watch the opening ceremony, have a few laughs, etc. Just come, but I’m going to warn you, the energy is contagious and you might not want to leave! 🙂

Event Day Logistics

  • When: Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 6pm to 7am
  • Where: Fauquier High School (702 Waterloo Road, Warrenton, VA)
  • What should I pack? folding chair, a change of clothes, a blanket/pillow, warm clothes (in case it gets chilly), bug spray, and snacks.
  • Where to meet? we have a tent set up – you just have to look for our sign with team name: All Night for the Fight!
  • Are you a Survivor? Make sure you sign up online as one so you can receive the t-shirt. And please come early to receive your complimentary food in the Survivor tent.
  • Food/Drinks? Yes there will be vendors/other teams selling food/drinks and of course, there will be water provided for participants.
  • Bathrooms? There are bathrooms on site – duh! 😉
  • Kids? Of course! You are never too young to Relay! Just make sure you bring all the necessities! And if your child under 18 years of and will be walking, be sure to bring your signed Youth Participant Agreement to the Registration table.
  • Do I have to walk the whole time?? NO! In order to represent the fact that “Cancer never sleeps”, we ask that each team has a representative walking the track at all times. This should not be just one person – team members can take shifts!
  • Want to sleep? You are more than welcome to take a nap in the tent, OR go home, take a name and come back! Participants are not required to stay up all night.

Relay for LIfe

Thank yall for taking the time to read this. I just wanted to answer any questions that you might have about this amazing event and hope to see YOU there! 🙂

Our Team Link: 

http://main.acsevents.org/goto/FauquierAllNightfortheFight 

Better place since you came along….

So I wanted to dedicate this post to my Husband for so many reasons – first and fore most because he is awesome! More importantly, not only has he been there every step of the way in my ThyCa journey – he’s dealt with all 50,000+ emotions that comes with being diagnosed/treated for cancer.

When I was first told I needed to get a biopsy done, I was terrified and inconsolable. My Hubby, Spencer, said over and over that it would be fine – there was no reason to worry. In my opinion he was being insensitive but come to find out, he just had no clue how serious the situation was. It was his mom and sister that finally got through to him that it’s not just an over dramatized response – this is really happening.

I still remember the day that I was upstairs in our bedroom and Spencer came up to talk – he ended up breaking down and crying. It was at that point he told me how helpless he felt and didn’t know what he could do to help. I honestly think it was a turning point in our relationship. We both needed each other and would fight to no end – together!

Once diagnosed, the reality of the situation hit both of us very hard. Expanding our family was once again on hold, the countless doctors appointments we continued to miss work for, figuring out how to break the news of cancer with our kids, and all the stresses that came with the over abundance of bills that were coming our way. I know I was a mess, and that’s putting it lightly. And even through it all, Spencer comforted me, consoled me and the kids, was constantly keeping family in the loop when I couldn’t get through the newest update, and just all around supportive and positive. One of the best things he did, was just to let me vent – because it’s exactly what I needed. He would let me cry on his shoulder as I wondered what was coming next. He never discounted how I felt by saying I shouldn’t worry about it. There were days that he might not have been as patient, hey it’s a tough job to keep up with someone who is on a constant roller coaster – filled with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts. When I came off as positive and always so uplifting in my Facebook posts, it was partly because I already vented to my family and friends, but mostly my husband. Not to say I wasn’t positive, but it definitely takes work to continue to be positive when there was so much back to back bad news.

I have heard so many people who have been diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer that have lost friends, spouses, or just didn’t have the support. And I am so grateful to have so many people on a daily basis that have continued to be there every step of the way.

To my husband: my one, my from now on – thank you! Thank you for your love, support, and constant comfort. I can’t say I wouldn’t have gotten through it without you (only because I’m a fighter) but you made the ride a hell of a lot better. I love you and can’t wait to see what the next couple of years has in store for us!

Rachel Platten says it best – “It’s a better place since you came along!”

And thank you for always reminding me you’ll “Stand by You” (aka me!).

The words that every ThyCa patient waits for….

No. Evidence. Of. Disease.

It’s been one year, five months and 22 days that I had to wait to hear those words. But I can tell you, of all the dreams and visions of the way I thought I would feel when I heard them, are nothing compared to how I felt at my appointment the last Thursday as the words came out of my Endo’s mouth.

When you look up the definition of “No evidence of disease” you get a multitude of things that come up. First, it talked about Survivorship (before and after treatment) – wow! Those words just make me smile because that’s exactly what we’ve done, we’ve survived and we’ll have to survive every day for the rest of our lives. That might seem dramatic to some but just keep in mind that with every cancer there is a chance of reoccurrence, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your surgeon is (which mine was), or how high of a dose of treatment you take – cancer can always come back.

I can only speak for myself and say that I am a very optimistic person but when you are diagnosed with cancer it’s an every day challenge. Not necessarily to remain positive but it’s almost like you need to coach yourself, especially on the bad days that everyone has. I am often told to “stay positive” throughout my journey, even if I bring up statistics or just being realistic for a moment. But I can tell you, I will always be positive.

  1. I am positive I will be strong enough to handle whatever comes my way.
  2. I am positive that I remain proactive with my health throughout my ThyCa journey.
  3. I am positive that if I do experience reoccurrence, I have family and friends that help support me no matter what, and especially on my worse days (#noonefightsalone).
  4. I am positive that there is a higher power looking over me.
  5. I am positive that I will never give up HOPE that there will be a cure one day.

The second definition of NED is: No evidence of disease (NED) is a term that is used when examinations and tests can find no cancer in a patient who has been treated for cancer. Which is amazing news!! So basically I was NOT expecting to hear these words for another year – especially after the discussion with my Nuclear Medicine doctor a few weeks ago. They determined that the tumor/thyroid tissue is still present on the back side of my thyroid bed and because of that, I would need to be considered for another dose of RAI or surgery. His recommendation was to wait a year to determine if it’s growing and/or how fast it’s growing. With that being said, I am already at almost a 1/3 of how much RAI (radiation) that I can use in my life time so they aren’t sure that treatment was the best option (keeping in mind that Thyroid Cancer has one of the highest reoccurrence rate across all the cancers). Of course I had to sit on this for a good three weeks before finally getting to speak to my Endo (she was out of the country on vacation). But when finally had my appointment, it was the BEST news!!! She confirmed that after comparing all of my scans, blood work and tests over the last year and a half, that they are VERY confident that the tissue remaining, is in fact benign. Therefore, I have my NED!!! 🙂

With all this being said, I am a survivor. I have beat cancer. And if need be, I can do it again. And I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you so THANK YOU!! Going back in 5-6 months to have my next set of ultrasounds, blood work, and tumor marker done! 🙂

Adding another chapter

So my #ThyCa scans didn’t go as planned today. I was hoping to hear the words “no evidence of disease” but I’ll have to wait a little longer. Of course there is disappointment, sadness, and fear but there will always be hope. I know everything is going to be ok – just adding another chapter to my ThyCa book before closing the book. It’s a waiting game until we touch base with my Endo regarding next steps, and possible additional treatment. I still have #hope but needless to say, today was hard.

#thycascans #thyroidcancer #noonefightsalone #radioactiveiodine131 #readytobedone #stupidcancer #goaway #waitingforaNED 

Scar – Don’t Go Away, Please??

So most people, after they have surgery of any type, can’t wait for their scar to go away – for whatever the reason. They want to get past it, they want to forget, they want to have nice looking skin again, or they simply just don’t want the scar…but that is not the case for me. 

I don’t want my scar to go away. Yep, I DON’T want it to go away. I’ve seen so many people on my support groups or other Survivors that I’ve met that have given me suggestions on what I can used to make it fade away OR go away almost completely, like vitamin E or over the counter scar creams. I always smile and say thank you for the advice but I have no intentions of trying any of it. 

To most, this might be silly, especially since I have a fairly big scar in comparison to most ThyCa Survivors with the typical TT. I get stares all the time, most kids are horrified – they point and want to avoid me (especially right after my surgery). I know prior to my surgery, I was terrified of how it would look or how long it would take before it would heal. I bought a scarf to cover my neck, mostly for my kids so they weren’t terrified when I first got home but the day they came to the hospital, I didn’t hide it quick enough….they saw it and they were scaried to death. Conor wouldn’t even come near me and Mileigh just kept crying and pointing at my neck. Needless to say, I lost it…I hated that my kids didn’t want anything to do with me even though I understood their fear. 

Now my kids love showing off my scar and explaining that my butterfly was taken out – but more than anything hearing the kids talk about how strong I am – it brings tears to my eyes. I know my ThyCa journey is only a small part of who I am and a short chapter in my book of life BUT I can’t express how much I’ve changed in the last year. I feel that my scar is the constant reminder that I need on my hardest of days or even on my best days. But I love when people ask me about it now – I’m not ashamed because it brings awareness to a cancer that is often thought of as a “good” cancer.

So scar please don’t go away! 🙂

This pic was the day of surgery and then 4 weeks later.   
And this is today – just over 11 months post-op. Just craziness!!!