Cancer, huh? Well, I TOLD you I was sick…

You know that little voice in your gut?  (Or your head – whatever.)  The one that tells you things that you know are instinctively true, regardless of those pesky contradictory details folks sometimes call “facts”?

You should listen to that voice.  Seriously.

Even if it’s obnoxious, like mine.

MY voice has been telling me for the past year or so that something is just not right with my body.  (Okay, maybe two years.  Three?  Wait, how long has it been since I’ve felt like writing?  Since then.) I tend to be fairly stubborn, though, and feigned deafness.

When my hair started coming out in handfuls in the shower, I ignored it.  After several months, it inexplicably got better. Whew – bullet dodged!

When I noticed my weight creeping up and tried to get marginally serious about dropping some pounds, nothing worked.  I ignored it, and blamed my oft maligned willpower, or lack thereof.

When I became increasingly less energetic, I blamed it on the aforementioned extra weight.  And old age.  And lack of exercise, which was exacerbated by the aforementioned lack of energy. I ignored the voice and began a systematic internal castigation of what I saw as innate laziness.  The voice protested and tried to defend me – to myself.  I ignored it.

“I’m depressed!”, I argued.  That’s what my doc of 12 years said, anyway.  I wasn’t putting myself first and making time to exercise, said the doc.

“Bullshit”, the voice replied.  “You couldn’t exercise if you WANTED to – you’re always exhausted!”

“Excuses”, I fired back.  “I’m lazy.”

“Lazy??” The voice was incredulous.  “LOOK BACK at the things you have done, woman.  LAZY PEOPLE DO NOT DO THOSE THINGS.”

“Yeah, well, I’m old”, I muttered.  “New par for the course, I guess.”

“Oh, so the passage of time moves more swiftly for you than for every other human being on the planet? You little overachiever, you.”

My voice is snarky.

Fine.  FINE, dammit – I went to the doctor.  Since we moved to another state two years ago, it was naturally a new doc, and as he read over my family health history, he noticed that my mother had had thyroid cancer.  He paused.  He checked my bloodwork – thyroid levels were fine, as usual.  Then he got up an checked my neck.

Wait a minute.  No doctor had ever done THAT before.

He asked me to lean my head back as far as it could possibly go.  I saw his eyes fly open before he began to feel gently around my Adam’s Apple.  Yup, he definitely saw something.  And I felt something.  There was a huge lump in my neck.

Holy crap.

He ordered an ultrasound immediately, and while he was scheduling it, I reminded him that he’d said my thyroid levels were fine.  He paused and agreed.  So, if my thyroid was working correctly, what the heck was causing a lump?

“Well.  We HOPE it’s not cancer…”

The human thyroid. Picture mine with lumps - big, honking lumps!

Flash forward.  Huge nodule on my right side thyroid, three smaller on my left.  Fine needle aspiration biopsy showed atypical cells, endocrinologist scheduled appointment with the surgeon two hours later, and by 7:00 that night the expedited pathology report said “CANCER”.

I’m having a total thyroidectomy on June 4, but this is not about me.  It’s about you.

LISTEN to your nagging voice.  Be your own advocate.  Defend against negative self accusation and GO TO THE DOCTOR if something – or many somethings – begin to not add up.  Too many of us (present company included) are too quick to blame ourselves for things that we have little to no control over.  We beat ourselves up, we put ourselves last and we bow to fear by playing ostrich rather than educating ourselves with the facts.

Trust me when I say:  The evil that you know is better than the evil that you don’t know.

And, what the hell.  It’s only pain.


Stay tuned for the next installment of the saga, entitled “Nine Needle Throat Punch of Fury!” or “There is never a WRONG time to tell the Muffin Joke!”



16 Responses to Cancer, huh? Well, I TOLD you I was sick…
  1. Melisa
    May 27, 2014 | 5:29 pm

    My God, Ri.

    Please take care of yourself. I will keep you in my thoughts and definitely listen to what my body tells me: I learned that myself with last summer’s bout with pancreatitis!

  2. As cape cod turns
    May 27, 2014 | 5:46 pm

    Geez Ri!!
    Scary stuff, but I know you will tackle this with a good sense of humor and probably some loud music!! Keep us posted xoxo

  3. Sara Broers
    May 27, 2014 | 5:58 pm

    As a two time thyroid cancer survivor, I can tell you- you got this! One you head into recovery mode find an excellent thyroid cancer doctor specialist to help you find your new “normal.” And then, be a strong advocate for yourself, as you and only you will know how you are feeling. A little FYI- My first round was in 1987 and then again in 1998. Good luck!

  4. Julie Cohn
    May 28, 2014 | 12:37 am

    Sending you giant buckets of love and hugs Ri. You are going to kick cancer’s ass!!

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