I realize, I’m not so fantastic at this whole blog thing. I get a vibe going and then I fall off. Which isn’t right. Not only does this blog exist to represent a plethora of thyroid cancer knowledge and awareness, it also touches on my experience to all my fellow survivors and recently diagnosed. My intentions are always to engage, inspire, make you laugh, create a blanket of comfort, and to let you know – You are going to be just fine.
This week, I am currently undergoing my yearly cancer screening. This involves thyrogen shots, blood work, a neck ultrasound, a tiny dose of RAI, and of course a full body scan this Friday. I will make sure to write about the whole process. I do have a few really great subjects to touch on next week pertaining to the cost of having a “good kind of cancer” as well as all the pills that have come into my life since being diagnosed.
Stay tuned, Darlings – Keep fighting the good fight!
Cheers to Thyroid Cancer Awareness month! Have you had your neck checked yet?
What are you waiting for?!
I have a new blog post coming up this week, pertaining to my most recent results since May. Let’s just say, I FINALLY got a break! For a few months at least…
In the meantime, I’ve been busy traveling and perusing a dream of mine; opening up a plant retail shop! It’s called Garden Garage. The door went up directly after my last post and it’s been nothing short of amazing. My favorite part besides getting my hands dirty? All the people and avenues it has led me to. Las Vegas has such a great community of makers, finders, and creators, it’s unbelievable! You just have to find us 😉
Garden Garage builds a unique narrative of plants and spaces we see everyday. By elevating the location to a neighborhood environment, through display and living plants, we acknowledge how extremely delicate and beautiful life really is. It is an idea of connecting with the community through shared interests and to take a pause and appreciate an object that brings meaning and breaks us away from the tendency to blend in. This tightly edited collection of greenery is carefully crafted with design and quality in mind. We believe surrounding yourself with organic, southwest, minimalism vibes leads to a happier and more productive lifestyle. Give. Get. Grow.
For the rest of September, with every plant purchase over $50 I’ll be giving away a #WhatThyroid pin in the color of your choice! If you’re not in Las Vegas and would like to rock some awareness flair, you can find them on Etsy where shipping will be free through the remainder of the month. Interested in my full story? WhatThyroid.com .
If you’re in Las Vegas, stop on by! The shop will be open 11AM – 3PM this Saturday, September 16th. As well, we’ll be at the Life is Beautiful, Market in the Alley, September 22-24, West Elm Oct. 1, AND the Grow Your Own Festival, Oct. 8th!
“To plant a garden is to
believe in tomorrow.”
— Audrey Hepburn
Don’t forget to hit follow on Instagram for daily chats, inspiration, and good vibes!
Now, while I’m about pro level at this microscopic game of thyroid cancer, I still get quite uneasy when I have looming appointments like these approaching. Especially the yearly follow up. These are big time, folks. And I have yet to receive good news, just once. Let me tell you, I f*cking NEED THIS. A break. To regroup and refocus.
April 22 ( Earth Day! ), the last thing I would ever ask for is to unfold out of slumber and head to Desert Radiology for a neck ultrasound. Playing with plants and spending the day outside, enjoying our blue planet sounded more like my cup of tea. But alas, like I mentioned in the *above, sometimes you just have to dive in and be done with it.
Away I went.
Random Side Thought: When fellow patrons in the waiting room hear you called down the ultrasound hallway, I wonder the percentage of people listening assume I must be pregnant. AND, if and when that day ever comes, will I be traumatized by ultrasounds? I mean, seriously. I’ve had about a dozen of them and none came out the way we wanted.
Back the the update.
At this point I know exactly what cancer looks like under ultrasonic frequency. Your lymph nodes appear circular and solid black, traced with a small outline. When cancer shows it’s ugly presence, the best way to describe – Tiny little static within that solid black circle. When mapping for my second surgery, one of the ultra sound techs and the administering doctor, stabbing needles into my neck, showed me the art of death. Now I’m terrified of it. So rather than stare at the screen this time, I opted to shut my eyes and keep breathing. I didn’t as questions like I normally do. I’ve pretty much asked them all. Knowing I had all this other crazy coming up the following week, I decided I’d rather know nothing and hope for the best.
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.” ― T.S. Eliot
OK. I lied. I did peek just once. She was snapping so many images! But I only saw the screen for maybe twenty seconds and to my relief, everything looked normal.
Sunday was all mine. Julian went galavanting with some high school friends, in from Houston and Minnesota. I decided to stay home alone with Frank and just vedge. The only downside was the damn wind we’ve been getting knocked around with here in Las Vegas lately. Any day now it can stop. My allergies are killing me on top of everything else.
Monday kicked off this week with Thyrogen Shot 1 – It stung like a motherf*cker! Tuesday, exactly 24 hours later, ( in my best DJ Khaled voice ) ANOTHA ONE. I’m still wrapping my head around why exactly I paid 2K to get probed with needles. Oh wait, that’s right. Because the alternative is to go off your thyroid meds for three weeks and feel like a pile of brain dead mush that sleeps all the time. That doesn’t fly in the creative entrepreneur club.
Directly after my first injection Monday, I headed downstairs to get my blood drawn for a pregnancy test. No, I am not pregnant, nor are we interested at this point. It was strictly precautionary due to the fact that later today, I’ll be swallowing more radio active iodine in preparation for my i-131 full body scan Friday.
BUT GET THIS. Summerlin Hospital LabCorp lost my blood! And so this morning, when I was suppose to pop that radioactive pill, I got a phone call from Desert Radiology’s Nuclear department. My heart dropped thinking they were about to tell me we had a Lil’ Murr on the way, but low and behold, they called to inform me they could not find my results. Le sigh. Is this really happening? So at 7:30AM today, I raced to another LabCorp to give additional blood for a STAT pregnancy test. Go figure, the first lady poked me TWICE and didn’t get a vein. F*ck. I hate needles already and she was just digging into my arm! After her double fail, a second mam came in to draw. She apologized, she was going to have to go in the same vein that was already bruised from Monday’s lost labs. She got it like a pro, but I was about five seconds from passing out. She yelled for ice and laid me down on the table directly ahead of where I was sitting. What an early morning trip! I promise you I will NOT be paying for this second bill if and when it comes. The worst part of it all? I have to get more labs tomorrow to check my thyroid levels. AHHHHH. I’m going to keep telling myself, the Universe is throwing this all at me to test my ability to stay positive and calm, with results tossing me into my first NED ( no evidence of disease ) category in three years. Pretty, PRETTY, please.
And now I’m writing this while I sit patiently, trying to concentrate on work, and await Keith to call me over to swallow some foreign pill. See, the thing is with these tests, they have to be done in a specific order. Mostly due to the Thyrogen injections. It’s a stressful and daunting runaround. All results should be available by May 3. My appointment with my endo is May 8. I can pick everything up before then, but do I want to? I don’t like my endo enough to wait for her to tell me the verdict. What would you do?
Alright. Time to sign off. Thanks for reading! More from me Friday. We’re halfway there!
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 64,300 new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. in 2016. Of these new cases, roughly 49,350 will occur in women and 14,950 in men. In fact, it is the most rapidly increasing cancer diagnosis in the United States, tripling it’s past numbers. And no matter how one may view the survival statistics, each story is different, each experience is hard and I urge you to never consider it a “good cancer.” There are no good cancers.
CHECK YOUR NECK.
What Thyroid? has become my mantra and also the face of my fight against Thyroid Cancer. Brutal honesty, a twist of wit, and paired with the good, the bad, and the ugly, is the way I roll.
With September dedicated to Thyroid Cancer Awareness (are you sick of my posts yet?), I decided to express my personal experience, trauma, positivity, inspiration, and need to feed this creative soul, the best I know how; awareness through design. By this I mean pouring my guts into writing, complimented by these sweet little thyroid lapel pins.
Who says survivors need to rock ribbons or butterflies all the time?!?
SHOW ME YOUR THYROID!
25% of all sales will give back to someone in need of financial help via medical bills, because lovers, this disease is NOT cheap. And with so many outlets donating to research and we have yet to hear of a cure – I’m taking an alternative route for the cause.Here’s to all the fighters and the survivors. The incredibly strong humans who have made it through this long haul. To the doctors and the nurses who have given their best. And here’s to our friends and family, who have supported and loved us endlessly!
Wear this pin with pride.
In the previous post, I tossed out there what a thyroid is (a gland) and what it controls (pretty much everything). What I forgot to mention is what it looks like. Picture two medium filet cuts in the shape of an abstract butterfly, kind of. Great visual, right? I do not suggest looking up Thyroidectomy on YouTube, anytime in your life. I just did.
Nasri, you are a CHAMP! And I can’t believe all that happened to my neck, TWICE.
I’ve been teaching a handful of children as of late, where and what a thyroid is. Of course I don’t go into the gory details of all the possibilities their thyroid’s future may have, but at least they are learning something that I can’t remember hearing about even in high school. Imagine that.
Then I give them a pin and they forget all about what I just said. They rather fight about who gets what color. So there’s that.
Next up! All the pills. Onward!
This post was originally going to be up as a first update in isolation, but between extreme exhaustion, very little brain activity, and my recently sought out addiction to Parks and Rec., it never happened.
And THEN I was thinking of doing a time lapse video of me ferociously cleaning and taking everything apart, but I couldn’t find a good angle to catch everything so I squashed that idea quite quickly and just my ass to work.
So here it is! March 22, the day before I was bound to a single living space for, four days.
I have a tendency to take things to extreme levels in organization and preparation for certain situations. Getting ready for a four day isolation period, my motto remains: Better safe than sorry. On top of that, since my insurance didn’t find it necessary for me to safely reside in a hospital for the days of confinement, I created a list of execution in creating a sterile yet comfortable space for my time alone.
First things first. Julian went to Home Depot, retrieved the smaller roll of painter’s plastic and some cheap painters tape. With that single roll, I was able to cover every inch of my bedroom and bathroom floors, my entire king size bed mattress and our white leather couch. We used an old pair of super soft sheets that have had their day, plus I didn’t really love the light blue color anymore. They were a bit small for our new bed so I had to tape them down as well. From Walmart, we swooped up two cheap-o pillows, six towels, plastic cutlery, paper plates, heavy duty trash bags, a new light weight blanket, toilet paper, paper towel, dispoable plastic gloves, three tooth brushes, a travel size tooth paste, four bath poofs, and some travel size shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Absolutely everything that is disposable. All in all, with food, I think we spent just about $200 – Which is clearly much cheaper than any hospital stay and I ate fresh, organic foods everyday. #Win
Once all the plastic was down and ready to go, my room cleared a “Dexter Approved” status given by Frank Murray, my plastic laying advisor. Julian had two coolers right outside my door in which he changed the ice every day and stocked with H2o. I ate a lot of chicken and avocados. I drank a ton of water and Glacier Freeze Gatorade. We brought in our kitchen table, since it’s much smaller than our office desks. Since I refuse to have a t.v. in our bedroom and was hoping to get some work in, my iMac fit perfectly and served as entertainment/taunting stress, knowing how much I have on my current design plate. I had my coffee pot and toaster oven in the bathroom which served as a quaint little kitchen. I had four outfits picked out for each day, the first two of which I threw away along with all the towels after my stint. Again, better safe than sorry!
I really took the time to make my space comfortable. Sanctuary like. Lemonheads in a champagne coop? Yes, please! I brought in candles and incense, plants and photographs. It was a much better stay than my first round of RAI last year. I feel very fortunate that we have such a beautiful home and backyard. Though I opted to not go outside for the first three days, the pool view kept things inspiring and exciting for summer.
The four days I was in isolation were documented each evening by yours truly and can be read about in previous posts. Saturday afternoon, I cleaned the room, throwing 80% of everything away, including pillows, sheets, towels, all my travel size toiletries, and even my hair brush. All which will be stored, double bagged, in our garage for the next 40 days before trashing. I washed the two blankets I kept, and any other parcel of clothing I decided to keep yesterday. All is well in the world, but damn that was a lot of work.
Yesterday was Easter. I talked to all my family in Wisconsin, wishing I was with them. Or with the Murray clan in Mexico! Tomorrow I have a blood work appointment at 2PM and Wednesday morning I report for my I-131 scan at Desert Radiology with Keith – Looking forward to clear scan results! I have to carry a piece of paper until May 7th saying that I may still have some radioactivity roaming around inside my bod, which has been known to set off police radars and airline security. Ha! WILD. Other than that, there once again, are not enough hours in a day and I am preparing for a busy, busy work week among other things. I NEED ANOTHER VACATION.
Cheers, Lovers. Take care of You.