The past two weeks have been a blur. Drive here, take this pill, try to work, run there, get this shot, grade that, ride here, focus, don’t get stressed, swim there, hope the nosebleed stops, bonk, try not to feel queasy, sleep, wake up feeling like I didn’t . . . . all with a mild case of thymentia. (Thymentia is the term used by many thyroid patients for the foggy-headed, absentminded, forgetful feeling we all experience thanks to not having a thyroid, or having a poorly-functioning thyroid.)
On Wednesday, I got the results of my whole body scan. (Side note: mega-super-uber-huge BONK on Wednesday night. Tried to cram way too much into that day. Topic for another entry.)
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for answers, the visit itself concluded at breakneck speed. The oncologist (who I love) basically sat down with us, opened my folder, and said, “Your scan was stone cold normal.”
I’m sure he saw the relieved/happy/confused look on my face (well, you couldn't miss the raising-my-arms-in-victory-over-my-head part), so he added, “Which is what you wanted, right?” -rhetorical question-
Of course, I agreed, and I asked my questions about when to get bloodwork, let him know about the nosebleed, etc. He said, “So just go back to your endocrinologist and follow up with me as needed.”
“You’re done!” he said with a smile.
Thinking about all the people I know who have scans every year or two, I stuttered, “Like . . .done? Like, I don’t have to have any more of these?”
“Yep,” he responded. “I mean, obviously, your endocrinologist will monitor your labs, but you only have to come back and see me if something looks wrong.” Then he glanced down at something in my bloodwork and frowned. “Hmmm, that’s weird,” he said.
I got this comic from a web friend -
I guess one of the authors’
wives is a breast cancer
It was an explanation
I could really identify with.
My heart stopped. “What’s weird?”
“Well, your thryglobulin antibodies are up to 4.5.”
“What does that mean?”
“They’re supposed to be zero. Do you remember what they usually are?”
“Well, they can’t be negative, but they can be less than 1.” (Flipping through my chart quickly) “Yeah, yours look like they’ve always been less than 1.”
“So what does that mean?”
“You’ll just have to have your endocrinologist monitor your bloodwork.”
I left feeling a lot more . . . blank than I expected. I guess my emotional outpouring was long done. Don’t get me wrong, celebrations will ensue. But I realized, as the day ended, that there is a lot more to being a cancer survivor than just surviving cancer. No wonder so many people get so wrapped up in worrying about when/if it will "return."
Trying to explain the steps from patient to recovery to remission is often tricky. Sometimes people assume that remission happens as soon as the cancer is "cured." Trying to understand that yourself can also be tricky. Thyca is even more complicated, because not only do we rarely have chemo or traditional radiation like other cancer patients (which can often lead to insensitive comments like one I got this week "better than having the kind that so-and-so had!") we have bloodwork every 3-6 months regardless of whether we're "out of the woods" or not. I always say I'm going to stop blogging about how different life is after cancer, but I don't think now that I'll ever be able to stop. It is something that will affect me forever.
The reality is that you cannot dwell on it daily, although it may change and affect you daily. Becoming too wrapped up in your "status" (patient, survivor, recovery, remission, treatment, etc.) will create a never-ending circle of stress. The cancer can always, "come back," and if we spend our lives worrying about whether it does, we significantly damage the quality of the life we have left.
I have identified who I am, although I don't have a label for it yet. I have chosen to step forward. I have decided to view everything resulting from my cancer as positive and to see my cancer as a gift that enabled me to appreciate and understand so much more about myself and the world around me. I have chosen to continue training, even on the bad weeks, because exercise keeps me otherwise healthy and (as) sane (as possible).
And that, after all, is why this blog even exists.
As a final note, I've changed the theme and the tagline on my blog. I decided I'm just an "athlete," not a "triathlete," for one. And I figured calling it Finishing Races, Beating Cancer, and Living Life gave too much power to the cancer. Yep, still going to have times when I talk about it - but that doesn't mean it makes me who I is.
We now return you to your (new and improved) regularly scheduled programming.
And that's the lastest word from
Friday, July 29, 2011