It feels surreal to be saying this right now, but last week I found out I have thyroid cancer… The good news is that the type of cancer I have been diagnosed with has a really good prognosis and following surgery, I should be in the clear with a low change of recurrence.
Even with the good news, I would be lying if I didn’t say this has totally rocked my world. You never want to be associated with the “C” word, and the fact that I can (and have to) say that “I have cancer” is totally scary. I know that there are so many much more scary types of cancer, and I am so incredibly thankful that this is not that, but it’s still a hard pill to swallow.
After an entire week of calling the doctor and being told they would get back to me over and over again (I have lots of feelings about this), I finally have a date set for the surgery, which lifts a bit of the weight off. Even though I am really scared of the surgery, I know that it is the right (and only) thing to do and once I recover, this should be in my past (assuming all the tests come back clear). I will need to take medication for the rest of my life to make up for the hormones lost when they take my thyroid, but that is a small price to pay for my restored health.
It’s times like these that remind you of what is important. For me, right now, the most important thing is my family and the health of myself and my family. I am so thankful to have a healthy husband and kids at home, and need to get through this for them. Everything is for them. At the same time, I have been reminded of just how many wonderful people surround me, both friends and family. They have rallied around me and let me know that they love me and are here with Nick, the kids and me through this whole thing. Nick is going to have to take on A LOT while I am recovering, and I am so happy to have people who are ready and eager to help. How lucky am I to have that support?
Things will look a bit different around here and on Instagram in the near term while I heal both physically and emotionally. I will have restrictions on what I can do physically (still trying to understand what that looks like) so I won’t be able to take any more DIY projects on for a while. I’m not quite sure of the timeline, and don’t want to put any deadlines out there, but will keep you posted. For now, I will still plan to share home decor things that I love and will likely share a bit more of real life at the same time. This blog and Instagram community brings me so much joy, and I am going to need this outlet more than ever!
I hope you will stick with me through this season of life!
Answering a few question I’ve gotten since I shared this news…
Q: How did you catch it?
It comes down to keeping up with my regular doctor’s appointments! Thyroid issues run in my family and I have had a goiter and nodules on my thyroid for nearly 20 years. I have gone nearly every year for blood tests to make sure my levels are normal and for the last like 8-10 years, I have been getting regular ultrasounds to monitor the size of the nodules. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss a year here or there, but for the most part, I have kept up. Last year, I was referred to a specialist to take a closer look at the nodules because they had changed in size a bit. After a quick look, she said there was nothing to be concerned about and told me to come back in a year to check again. Two weeks ago, I went in for my annual appointment, and while the nodules stayed the same size, she noticed the tiniest bit of calcium on one and decided to do a biopsy right there in the office that day. She mentioned it was likely nothing, but she wanted to be thorough, which I really appreciate now because that’s how they found the cancer.
Q: What were your symptoms?
I have no symptoms at all. I feel totally normal. The doctors at my ultrasounds regularly ask if I have trouble swallowing, but I haven’t experienced that. Part of me wonders if I actually do have trouble swallowing, I just don’t realize it because they have been so slow growing and I have had the nodules and goiter for years. I also can’t feel the nodules from the outside of my neck.
I have talked to a couple of people who have dealt with thyroid cancer who said they initially got checked out because they felt a lump. So if you notice something like that, don’t be afraid to speak up!
If there is one thing you can learn from my experience, I hope it’s that your health matters and don’t skip your doctor appointments! I know life gets busy and adding something more to your plate can be stressful, but YOU are worth it. You have to take care of yourself first.
Thinking of you and sending positive vibes! I love following your design and DIY advice and all your gorgeous purchases. I loved coming to see the Illinettes! I’m Emily Schaefer’s mom, who has been dealing with her spinal cord tumors since freshman year of college, when she was an Illinette with you. Luckily she just has repeated scans for changes up at Mayo every 6 months still. Your team was her support system at college and I know you have a great support system with your friends and family. But if you ever need anything I can help. You will be in my thoughts and prayers .
Thanks so much, Gretchen! This means so much! Emily is such an inspiration, and I LOVED being part of that dance team so much. Such a source of joy and support.
I am so glad Emily has stayed on top of things and seems to be doing so well!
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