Trust Your Gut

Oh it’s me again – I know, I know, something must have happened because she’s posting again lol. Although that might be true, I do intend to post more often. As we all know, the journey is never over, but the chapters change with each tide.

So I can honestly say that last year had been a good one. As you might remember I was given the “no evidence of disease” 2 years ago yesterday but we had to wait an additional 6 months to start trying for another baby. Then 6 month and 2 days later, our Baby Bear was finally more than a thought, if you know what I mean?!

During my pregnancy, my thyroid medication had to be changed a total of 6 times so I was on a constant roller coaster (more than just the change in pregnancy hormones – add in the fluctuation of thyroid hormones too)!!! I was grateful for both my doctors to be in constant communication and having monthly blood work checks to make sure I was where I needed to be. After Spence came into the world last July, I was actually quite surprised by how quickly I fell back to my “normal”. I felt great and started to lose the pregnancy weight very quickly – thanks to breastfeeding the first couple months. Unfortunately, after several attempts and trying what felt like everything, I was unable to continue to produce enough breast milk for Spence. I was thankful for my Endo to confirm that many of us without Thyroids are unable to produce the required amount – made me feel better knowing it wasn’t just “me”. I thought I would take it better with baby #3 but #momguilt always sinks in. Even if I knew that as long as he was fed, that’s all that mattered.

Fast forward to this past December, Spence was just 5 months old and I noticed I was still not feeling my best. Part of it was the stress of the holidays, I’m sure, but I knew it was more. I sent my Endocrinologist an email asking about my numbers. He assured me that they were fine and that I needed to give my hormones more time before we try to change anything. I was definitely frustrated by his response and should have insisted on blood work but the anxiety kicked in telling me I was overreacting. January came and I had my annual whole body scans – thankfully everything came back where they should and I could go back to my normal and focus on my always busy family life.

Within a month, I started feeling as though something still wasn’t right. My anxiety and depression was at an all time high again. I was tired All. The. Time! Yes I know I have a busy home with three kiddos but it was more. I brought this up to my Primary doctor and again, it was brushed off. After MONTHS of feeling sluggish, continuing to gain weight, I was tired all the time, I started having anxiety attacks again, having hot flashes several times a night, couldn’t get warm during the day, having my own emotional melt downs multiple times a week, having a period for weeks and weeks at a time, then skin rashes breaking out all over my body – including my head which resulted in scabs on 75% of my scalp, debilitating headaches, muscle cramps and joint pain – I had ENOUGH. I made the first available appointment with a new primary doctor within the same practice. Within 3 days and several attempts to get the information for the doctors office, I was told that my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was at a 14.67. This is absurd! My numbers should be at ONE or less is ok too! And it was 14 times higher than it should have been. This is not a small increase – I felt like I was dying but because of my anxiety, I kept it inside until I had more than I could handle.

Trust me, I am the first one to admit that we must be our own advocate – I should have know this from the years and years that I went undiagnosed while the cancer spread to my lymph nodes and both of my lungs. But sometimes we forget and trust that others have the best of intentions. But goodness gracious, no matter your situation or medical conditions, please trust your gut. For the 3rd time I am looking for new doctors. It is their job to help me. If they can’t, you move on to someone else because if not, you can go through several months of not being your best self. I have lost it on my family and missed out on things with family and friends because of it. I can’t get these months back but I can take charge of taking care of myself again. Never give up and always reach out to others for help.

For those that have Thyroid Cancer or other related Thyroid issues, I think we can all understand that our fight it never over. No matter how many people or doctors or professionals tell us that it’s the “easy” cancer. Know that you are NOT alone.

Always,

Kat

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 

ThyCa Tattoo

So I did it. I finally got the tattoo I had been waiting to get since the day I was diagnosed. Originally I wanted to wait until I was told there was No Evidence of Disease (NED) but with the recent news that there is still some additional work needed to do, I decided now was the time. I don’t have control over much in this situation BUT I do have control over this and this makes my heart happy. 🙂

So here it is….

Kat ThyCa Tattoo

I wanted to explain what this tattoo means to me because I have thought about for about a year and a half now and carefully put it all together. My brother helped bring this tattoo to life as it was a compilation of several different ideas.

  • First of all, there is the obvious Thyroid Cancer ribbon which is teal, pink and purple. I just didn’t want the original ribbon, I wanted something a bit more original.
  • Feather: So I wanted to incorporate a feather, as the eagles feather stands for courage and strength. Anyone that has dealt with cancer or an illness has had to fight harder than they ever have in their lives, and that couldn’t be more true for my journey over the last 1 and a half years.
  • Sparrows: They derive power and protection in their numbers.They survive by traveling in clusters and are a community that does not do well when by themselves. I couldn’t think of a better symbol for my “posse”, my support group of family and friends that helped me every step of the way. Whether you are there in the day to day process, or someone that randomly sent a message to check on me, big or small, you were a part of my clan of sparrows and I thank you!!
  • Heart: well that was a last minute addition (thanks Scottie!) but this means multiple things to me – overall, Thyroid Cancer was never who I became, it was a small part of me and what I went through. I will never be the same person I was before 10.23.14 but I have become a better person because of it. But it also stands for all the love and support I have received from family and friends that have always been in my life, but also to the group of amazing people that have come into my life because of Thyroid Cancer.  Although it’s a crappy way to meet, I don’t know what I’d do without the fellow ThyCa survivors and supporters who truly understand what I am going through.
  • Date (didn’t make the cut): So originally I wanted to include the date that I was diagnosed (10.23.14) because that date will always be the start of the “new” me but unfortunately, the numbers would have been too small to be able to see it because I didn’t want them to stand out as they weren’t as significant as everything else.

So there you have it. I am so excited to have this tattoo, and of course it’s on my left forearm where it can be seen by everyone (also covered for work, if need be). It can be a conversation starter – bring on Thyroid Cancer awareness!! It’s a reminder that I am a fighter. And no matter what I find out next week with next steps and if I need to undergo another RAI treatment or not, it’s going to be ok.

 

Original drawing by Scottie and completed outline of tattoo:

 

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month 2015

I just can’t believe I’ve been on this ThyCa journey for just over 10 months now. And now with Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month here – I wanted to think back for a minute.

I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer on October 23, 2014 and what an eventful 10 months it’s been. As I said in one of my firsts posts on this blog, I didn’t even know what the Thyroid was, much less what it controlled in my body. I believe wholeheartedly that everything happens for a reason and we are all put through trials and tribulations in our life to test how strong we are and to prove that we can overcome just about anything we put our minds to. Obviously, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone because the lack of a thyroid causes a battle that you body fights on a daily basis. But with time, patience, and the right Endocrinologist to back you – it is possible to get your hormones stabilized to feel somewhat “normal” again.

With all this being said, I urge everyone to know their bodies and trust their gut if you feel that something is “off” or wrong. You know your body better than anyone else and you don’t need a degree to know that something needs to be checked. I went to my doctor for 3 years straight complaining of my weight being an issue and the fact that it didn’t matter what I did or changed, I couldn’t lose anything. I have always had a really good metabolism so this was definitely a new thing. Of course, the first thing he did was have my thyroid levels checked but there is now research that states that all of your thyroid levels may or may not reflect any change or dysfunction if you have Thyroid Cancer. Your levels only tell if and/or how your thyroid is functioning, not necessarily will it detect cancer. So that is part of the reason why my doctors think that I probably had ThyCa for over 4 or 5 years without knowing. So that’s why we must trust our instincts and not give up when you question something.

So this September, I urge you to check your necks!!! 🙂

A graphic showing the location of they thyroid and how to perform a self-check.

A graphic showing the location of they thyroid and how to perform a self-check.