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!!

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 

Today Marks 1 Year

Well this is a day that has been on my mind for quite a while now and of course, with very mixed emotions. I remember the night before my surgery last year, I couldn’t wait to get all this behind me and I just kept thinking ahead, to be able to celebrate the one year mark because I knew everything was going to be so much better by then. It’s definitely been a roller coaster of events over the last year – from surgery to radiation, the constant change in medications, and the never ending doctors visits. But this was just a small moment in my journey…..

We all change with all the trials and tribulations we have in life. More than anything, I know that I am stronger. Every time I didn’t think I could handle any more bad news or another scan or test, I held it together. With every prick of the needle or side effect I had to endure, I held it together. With every question that I got from my kids asking if Mommy was going to be ok, I held it together. But just like with any process, you have to learn to let go too. And I did – many, many times. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that I just broke down and cried, over every little thing. I tried to fight it once I got past the initial shock of the word “cancer”, but then I realized that’s just all part of the journey – knowing it’s ok to have good days AND bad days. There were days that I didn’t want to get out of the bed, there were days that I got the kids off to school then crawled right back in bed to just cry. BUT THEN, there were other days that I drove home and belted out & at the top of my lungs “Fight Song” because that’s what I needed to get through that moment in time when I thought I was done putting forth the energy to keep going and fighting. I have had to learn that I can’t have control over everything, no matter how hard I try. You just have to go with the flow and know that everything happens for a reason, but for that same reason, you have to learn when to fight and when to let go. There were days that I would give in and other days that I would fight to no end. I have learned that you can’t get through something like this alone – and makes me that much more appreciative for all of my amazing family and friends that stood by me every second of every day and gave me that push when I needed it or the shoulder to cry on when I needed it more.

In the recent weeks, my hormone meds were increased and with every change in medication, it takes time for things to get adjusted. But the more and more they kept my Thyroid hormones suppressed, the harder the side effects were to deal with. I felt like I was taking 10 steps back to 6 months ago when everything was out of control. I was finally starting to get into a routine and getting to feel a sense of normalcy prior to this last change. So when I got the call that my TSH numbers were going up and they needed to increase my meds to keep things leveled out, I just lost it. I didn’t want to go through all that again. The exhaustion, muscle cramps, the shakes that never went away, heart palpitations, unable to catch my breath, extreme hot flashes that would last hours, massive hair loss (resulting to falling out in clumps) and unable to keep my thoughts on anything. All of this brought my anxiety back with a vengeance, which in turn, intensified with each of these side effects.

So with all this being said, I was having a hard time thinking how I was going to “celebrate” today when I felt I couldn’t be happy with my current state. So without coming off like I had nothing to be grateful for, I then realized, I just need keep moving and know that all is going to be ok. So for now I can appreciate the journey over the last year because I am still here and that can not be said by all those who have been diagnosed. Today is going to be an emotional day for me and I might not want to do anything this year but that’s ok. Maybe next year I will think of something to do in honor of this day.

inspirational-quotes-cancer-493

My Fight Song

So I just recently posted on Facebook that I have started a new chapter in my life – I have decided to be happy again and not let ThyCa get to me anymore. I would do my best each day to get up and make it a good one.

“Learning to live with ThyCa, not letting ThyCa dictate how I live my life.”

Well part of what helped with that, is a song – most people can relate with songs. That’s what helps bring us together. I first heard this song at Relay for Life as I was walking my “Survivor Lap” and I was brought to tears. I can honestly say I didn’t even hear most of the words because it took all I could to get around that track and back to my family and friends. But the next day when my neighbor and friend posted it online so I could hear it, I listened and that’s when it became MY SONG.

What I love about this song is it can be used by so many different people for so many different types of struggles in life. For me it was cancer, for another family member it was her divorce and depression, it can be a getting through college and making it into the real world, etc. It’s whatever you have found difficult to where you couldn’t get out of bed or you have felt you couldn’t talk to someone or maybe you have talked to someone but they couldn’t relate and you feel alone. But now – now you FINALLY feel like you can be set free. You are ready to take on the world and get through whatever you are going through and even though you may not be able to beat it – it’s the sole fact that you tried and you fought and you lived your life to the fullest.

For me, I had so much anxiety in the day-to-day life that I felt out of control and crazy, I really felt crazy. Everyone kept telling me to trust my judgement and if something didn’t feel right that I needed to go back to the doctor and if that was the case, I would be back at the doctor once a week – I started to feel as though I couldn’t trust my own judgement and that is scary. I was once a confident and independent person but am now lacking the ability to trust myself and having to rely on others so much that it doesn’t really do much for in self-esteem department. Do I know that it’s going to be ok and that it’s ok to ask for help? Absolutely, but it’s still an adjustment that I’m learning to live with. After I started seeing a therapist that specializes in traumatic life events – such as cancer, anxiety and depression, I got my medications stabilized through my Endo and PCP, and I realized that I couldn’t change whether my cancer was still in my lungs nor would there be anything I could do until we hit the 6 month mark after radiation – I soon started to become more “OK” with my new normal. I am still always tired and I think that is just part of it so I’m just trying to stay busy but still allow myself time to rest, all at the same time.

In the mean time, I have my Fight Song – it helps me get through my hard days and helps me celebrate my good days. I get to blare it out loud in the car with my Hubby and kiddos when I am happy because it’s my feel good song. It comes on the radio like every other song, when before I never heard it and my kids ask for it all the time as well. My daughter even knows all the words now! But it’s also there when I need pick me up and I am having a hard time getting through the day and can’t seem to get out of bed or if I am having baby fever and wishing that we didn’t have to wait so long to try again.

Either way, it’s a beautiful song and everyone should take the time to listen to it! If you are struggling – just know that everyone is going through something!

Fight Song

By: Rachel Platten

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years
I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

A lot of fight left in me

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

This is my fight song (Hey!)
Take back my life song (Hey!)
Prove I’m alright song (Hey!)
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong (I’ll be strong)
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

No I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me