Health, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids, Uncategorized

DAY TWO

I almost slept 12 hours! But I also woke up feeling a possible cold coming on. Please no.

 

My brother made it through his surgery and home safe. Chatted with him earlier // Side Note : ‪#‎Wisconsin‬ was on the desert news tonight due to snow. Stay warm, ‪#‎Cheeseheads‬!

 

I’ve almost finished every season of Parks and Rec. I’m addicted. I never watch t.v. and feel like when I finally finished, it’s going to seem like I lost some new friends… Anyone else have that with shows?

 

I pegged a little work in too and @____mshl came over to wave at me through the window. Frank literally tried to shove his face under the door.

 

Tomorrow I’m going to throw myself at an early alarm, a cup of coffee and pile of design. ‪#‎DayGoals‬

 

Saturday can’t come soon enough! Thank You All for your lovely good vibes – Cannot even explain how much I appreciate every ounce. 🙈

 

‪#‎thyca‬ ‪#‎whatthyroid‬ ‪#‎thyroidcancer‬ ‪#‎thyroidcancerawareness‬ ‪#‎radioactive‬‪#‎RAI‬

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Health, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids, Uncategorized

DAY ONE

I had zero brain energy to write about my insane preparation for this isolation process that I did yesterday, so outside of a shower, I’ve been watching Parks and Rec All. Damn. Day.

 

I reported to Leman at 7AM – Gave a shout out to Keith on the phone and told him I’d see him next week for my I-131 scan. Had both those techs rolling. Received the loveliest of compliments – A wish for more patients like me, in attitude, preparation, and knowledge about my situation. ‪#‎zing‬!

 

‪#‎Lemonheads‬ and ‪#‎h2o‬ have been my best friends, along with coloring on and off. ‪#‎FrankMurray‬ has either been pounding on my door to get in or sitting outside the patio window staring/meowing at me throughout the day.

 

AHHHH. I just want to sleep for 12 hours.

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Health, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids, Uncategorized

A Bunch of Hot Energy

I was administered a shot in my *ass today for the very first time in something like, twenty-five years? Left cheek in case you were curious. Another rounds the corner for my bum tomorrow. Right side. Fair is fair. To follow, waves of exhaustion before I swallow a tiny little radioactive pill, from a futuristic looking vessel – Wednesday AM – For the second time in my life. Then I accept being avoided like the plague by all things living for a solid week as neccessary. Since I haven’t stopped running yet, why stop now? Frank is going to go ape *shit.

 

 

Life surely has been nothing short of thought-provoking, busy, and arresting since the last check-in to socialize about my lack of a thyroid. I never went into detail about this past surgery over Christmas, but maybe I’ll be so bored over the weekend I’ll write so you all can be bored with me, among all the bright pastel colors. Oh! And hey look. Another holiday ruined due to this unwanted malady.

 

 

The entire month of February turned out to be a travel whirlwind. Not by plan, but by total chance/luck/good people. I took all that lovely by the horns and flew! I am so grateful. But it turned me into a junky. I cannot wait for the next spontaneous jaunt – to ANYWHERE. Currently, as I see others traveling, I’ll admit – I’m jealous. Like, really jealous. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. Take beautiful picture for me to view from the digital side and sulk because I’m not there. P.S. I love you.

 

March 25th marks 2 years since my very first brush with surgery complimented by the removal of a vital organ + treatment. Christmas is 3 days short of 3 months ago, when my second surgery took its course. All that has forever changed my life. And so have the days of not appreciating a size four waste line. Whatever.

 

 

Two surgeries in two years and I am full of life. I have a ridiculously handsome/talented/hard-working/best friend of a husband, my very own personal satan (a furry mammal disguised as a cat named Frank), a beyond supportive family whom I can’t wait to hug the shit out of in May, and the very best looking friends with personalities to match – In. The. Whole. World. What more could I ask for? More plants maybe…

 

 

This whole extravaganza in my What Thyroid existence has been quite the ride. Paired with other affairs that life likes to throw at us all – While we’re least expecting it. Or when we could really need/use a *fucking get out of life free card. Nope! Never happens. So you decide. Sink or swim?

 

 

The loss of my father was a massive blow. Like literally paired, 50/50 with the day I got the call about me, myself, age 29, having cancer. What? I just recieved my death ticket. Then, a year later… Excuse me? Dad’s dead? What the *fuck is going on. April 3 hits one year without someone who has been a huge part of my life since I remember, remembering. And I see my grandparents aging and my Mom suffering with herself and her own vices. Some very impressionable and dear extended family, dealing with loss and disease. I’m not sure how I avoid being a hot mess, puddle of tears, in a dark corner. Well, sometimes I am. But the corner is never dark. It’s light. I do that on purpose. It’s usually outside so the wind can carry that sad energy away from me for a while. But really, what is this life and what is the point? But then I bounce back. Strong. Excited. Vigilant. Observant. Ready to love and save everyone and everything just THAT much more. I seriously talk to my plants while I give them a little extra water that Nevada would like them not to have. I adore You All so much.

 

 

Back to the originality of this post – Wednesday is D-Day! I had nightmares last night about the shot I got today. It wasn’t that bad. I’m such a thirty-one-year-old wuss. I’m hoping to document this treatment better than the last time, though looking back, I watched a ton of movies, was sick and slept a lot. Julian and Frank went to a hotel where Frank caught a cockroach. Ish. We were living in an apartment then. My how things have changed.

 

 

This time, I’m secluding myself to our master bedroom and bath, since it’s all attached. I have a chair to sit in right outside the patio doors. We’re moving my iMac and desk into the bedroom to serve as a TV as well as inspiration to work – energy pending. I’ll show you the extent of our preparation tomorrow when it’s complete. It’s grossly organized and sterile. If insurance ever got cool, they would just let me vet this out in a hospital and save us the time and trouble. But alas, they’ve been and always will be cheap *bastards and I’m thankful, at least this time around, for the stingy vaccinations that helped me avoid being off thyroid medications and turning into a complete zombie for roughly a month. Awful. Never again.

 

 

Oddly enough, I am excited for Wednesday because I get to see Leman again! He is the nuclear dude for Desert Radiology and is a pleasure. Cheers to all the safe and hard working humans that expose and help toxic ones like me, push for a better and healthier life. I plan to send him a card to ensure he knows how much he is appreciated when this is all said and done. For the second time.

 

 

Alright. I’m going to check out for now. Julian it “weeding” the front yard while the wind cracks a whip so I don’t have to. I have designs due and I would like to get outside to plant some greens I picked up yesterday with my 10 year-old friend Charlee; IF this wind ever decides to subside.  More soon – Whether you like it or not.
xo! – La

 

 

 

 

P.S.S. If there’s anyone out there that ever has a question or concern or needs a little talkin’ to? Holla at me. I’m so open and extremely honest. Brutally. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Why sugar coat a serious situation. Hands down, never hesitate to ask, talk shit or even throw a little positive vibe this way. All is welcome!

 

 

 

* I apologize to the uttermost sincerity for letting swear words roll off the tip of my fingers like they do my lips, very comparable to a sailor, but hell, I come from a family of them so please accept that I really am a lady in most regards and never mean to offend. Love you. 

 

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ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids, Uncategorized

For the Sake of Updates

So, I realized I haven’t checked in since surgery… SURPRISE! I made it. I’m alive and well and feeling really good about the outcome of this procedure. Blood work on the 25th will confirm if I am on the right track. January 26th will determine if I decide to do another round of RAI treatment. I’m beyond anxious.

Pathology reports confirmed that the far left lateral node was THE only cancerous node. The other couple surrounding nodes that were removed, around that nasty left fella, came back clear. Fuck yes. The upper sternum node came back clear as well, gracing me with another little scar, but I already love it.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say I’m back, better than ever. Already going hard in the paint. The recovery surrounding this last surgery was quite brutal, but we all stayed super positive and here I am! Good design will continue to pour out of my little corner this planet and Frank still has someone to dominate his brut, seventeen pound self.

Other Random Things Happening: The new season of Shameless started Sunday night! Target is having a killer sale on their athletic apparel for women. I’m not talking their usual red light special of 13% – It’s finally something worth while – 40% OFF. BINGO. Yesterday was the last day filming for our first TV debut. Bittersweet. I don’t know how reality stars do it. It’s exhausting, oh so fake, and I’ve realized I was never meant to win an Oscar. Julian won’t let me adopt a beautiful eight year old cat named Little Guy from PetSmart; even though it was his idea that planted the seed in my head. We’ve lost a very important woman in our lives this past week – my Great Aunt Tetsuko. So much for 2016 giving me a little emotional breathing room. I’m currently reading, Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Spring is shaping up to be one hell of a travel storm: San Diego, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Cheyenne, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Orlando, Milwaukee, Weyauwega, Minneapolis, Palm Springs -Catch me if you can! Business is booming, which is exciting and overwhelming – all at the same time, in all the right ways.
And that’s what’s been happening in roughly the first 288 hours of the new year.

Looking forward to the remaining 8448.

More soon, Lovers!
“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu
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ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Uncategorized

F#ck Off, 2015!

So long! Fuck You! Sayonara! Ciao! Adios! Au revoir!

Seriously – Get this goddamn year out of here already.

Shitty years and unfortunate circumstances have been tossed everyone’s way at one point or another. It makes sense – the baton has to be passed in this life race. I took it for the team this year. I grabbed that metal son of bitch and ran and ran and ran and ran as fast as I could. I never gave up. I never slowed down. I sweat. I bled. Literally.

I am ready to make that pass.

This current year has been beyond my power. The self awareness is solid – My situation may look like fuzzy kittens and frolicking unicorns compared to many others around the world, but I’m done. I need mental rest. I crave it! And I realize that  I have no control over what happens next, I’m cool with that. There’s always going to be something. But here’s me begging and pleading to the Universe for those somethings to be small and less invasive on the soul moving forward. For a while at least. Pretty please? Pretty, pretty, please.

I considered mapping out all the things that went rouge in the last 364. It’d be so easy to do, you know, dwell. But then I says to myself – Why give those awful circumstances life through rememberance? I will never forget and there’s nothing to forgive, but it’s time to let it all go. It’s all happened and there’s not a damn thing I or anyone else can do about it. Instead of looking at my blind spots solely as flaws, I’ve started to consider viewing these terrible things that have crossed my path as opportunity. Opportunity to grow as a human. To focus these experiences into lessons learned and accept what is. Ultimately, we’re all pretty fucking lucky – Very lucky to be here on earth. And sometimes unexpected predicaments happen to put us in our place. Yet so much still doesn’t make any sense.

Then, there’s the other side of the rainbow. So many things went right this year. I traveled a lot – the Midwest being my main attraction. I logged the most successful year in freelance design to date. I have wonderful friends who had babies or took major life chances, getting them closer to their dreams and where they really want to be. My cat and husband are handsome and healthy. I’m surrounded by amazing people, who would bring me champagne at 4AM (hint, hint) if I ever just asked. I checked off a handful of personal goals I had set for myself by the time I turned 30. Actually, all of them except retiring.

Life can be a two-faced bitch.

And the years continue roll on. Everything is going to change and get harder for each and every one of us at some point. There’s no way to stop it. So CHEERS to 2016 and all the mysteries it holds. To reworking what has happened into something we can flourish from. To positive thinking and looking for the beauty in everything. To being a combination of past influence and common ground.

Onward.

 


“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.” 

― Elizabeth Taylor



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Health, Operation, Surgery, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids, Uncategorized

The Final Countdown

For most, it’s a race. Last minute gift shopping. Traveling minutes or miles to ensure the whole family is together. Dinners being prepped. Christmas music is swaying through everyone’s ears and heads. Children anticipating Santa* is on his way. Each person is bustling around to get everything just right for tomorrow.

Is Led Zeppelin considered Christmas music?

One hour, forty-five minutes. My personal countdown. At 1:30PM this afternoon I will report to Summerlin Hospital and my life will be in the hands of people I barely know for the second time.

It’s not bravery. It’s not that I’m fearless. It’s not that I’m some super woman saying to life, “Come at me, Bro!”  (well… kind of I am) but sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do. And our lives are really just one big story, right? Your very own unique memoir. So why not make it interesting! Why not turn an unfortunate situation into something great? Plus, if I didn’t get this sugery done before the year’s end, insurance would have raped** me out of another five grand worth of deductables. Thanks, America!

So my bags are packed. That’s right, plural. A giant fur blanket and Christmas cookies in one. Hand cream, champagne socks (which preferably would be a bottle… Thanks Dani for both!), Packer slippers (Sue Jones, YES! Packers are totally going to the Super Bowl!), chap stick, lotion, and essential oil from the spa yesterday so my room doesn’t smell like a gross, sterile habitat for recovering humans. Oh and let’s not forget my hospital swag. You bet I’ll be rolling up in a Meownisota shirt (Thanks Jessie and the Intermedia Crew!) a festive plaid poncho and a high bun. Duh. No one is raining on my surgery parade. The next 24 are MINE.

So CHEERS! To the nurses and the surgeon and his assistants for coming in today to help others. They are the real heroes in life. And Thank YOU to all who text, called, messaged, and sent well wishes. I adore you and can’t wait to see you again! So sorry if I didn’t get a chance to respond  – just know how much I appreciate you. Everything is going to be A-O.K. It has to be.

 

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AND be sure to think about just how lucky you are today. And tomorrow.  While you’re with your loved ones, eating, drinking, exchanging gifts, I’ll just be on a cold, metal operating table getting my neck slit open 😉

Murray Christmas!

WILL MURRAY! SEE YOU TOMORROW!

 

 

* If you child is 9 or older, quite lying to them about Santa. They’re grown.

** Apologies on using such a vulgar word, but let’s be realistic. It’s true.

 

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Surgery // Part Two

March 22, 2014. 6AM. My alarm sang with the sweet rhymes of Hi Tek – Come Get It (Tekrumentals). I was already half awake. Sleeping the night before a major life altering experience isn’t the soundest. I started getting ready; hospital bound. There wasn’t much to pack. They planned to release me within 24 hours. My mother-in-law, Claudia, flew in the night before from Minneapolis, to help out the following week after surgery. It was weird to throw myself together in under 20 minutes. Think of that what you may, but I am such a girl. I enjoy dolling my face all up and perfecting my hair everyday, but all that was tabu. Another confession? I hadn’t shaved in four days. Prior to surgery, I was required to whip down with these sterile cloths twice a day for four days. I pride myself in the softest skin possible (thanks Mom!) but these left an uncomfortable film all over and the nurse warned if I shaved, it would sting like hell.

Us three amigos left our apartment, Summerlin Hospital bound by 6:30AM. We swooped George on our way, a close family friend, and I was checked in by my 7AM call time.

I will expand on this more in a “Paperwork and Billing” write up, but seriously, keep track of your deposits and how much out of pocket you are spending through your entire process if you ever find yourself in this position. When I checked in that morning, it was the icing on my anxiety cake. The lady claimed I needed to pay $2600, right then and there, to continue my check-in and proceed to surgery. No one ever gave me a heads up about this before hand. Thankfully, my over-organized self brought all my paperwork and receipts, everywhere I went. This proved to save me a lot of time and stress throughout the last few months. I had already met my deductible they day I put a down my deposit with the surgeon’s office. After showing the lady my trail of paperwork she made some adjustments. In the end, I still had to cough up $600 for some reason, but at that point, I just wanted to get this all over with. I paid the money and promised to follow up once fully recovered.

Side Note: You never know what life is going to throw at you so make sure you are always putting a little money away for the unfortunate times that are sure to come at some point. This went a long way for us.

After dealing with the check-in, we waited maybe 10 minutes and I was called back to change and get my IV placed. Way faster than I expected, but I guess I’m thankful. My mind didn’t have any more time to wander and I started running on a new kind of adrenaline. I had no idea what to expect next.

First step, change into my gown. It was lavender and they gave me purple socks to match that had little paw grips at the bottom. I felt like a humiliated adult child. As I was in the middle of changing, I peeked out for a second to ask if I HAD to take my bottoms off. The nurse was a complete wench and literally yelled at me “YES! Everything off! And you need to hurry up, the doctor is ahead of schedule and if we don’t have you ready on time, we’ll get in trouble!”

“Excuse me? I am so sorry, but I don’t give a fuck if you are about to get in trouble or not, for anything that I do. This is MY surgery and I have NEVER done this before. Calm the fuck down.” Well, that’s what I wanted to say, but all that left my mouth was, “Wow.” as I rolled my eyes and shut the door to finish removing what was left of my sanity.

Completely uncomfortable and naked, under a thin, paper-esq gown; I climbed into my hospital bed and an older Asian decent nurse came in. She seemed nice at first, compared to the younger one that just got done scolding me for no reason. I’ve never had an IV hooked up to me before so I was asking a few questions as she prepared the needle. “How many times have you done this?” I asked. She replied, “Millions.”

Liar.

Julian was standing to my right as her first attempt to slide the needle into the top of my left hand failed. I twisted towards Julian and practically screamed. It was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. No joke. And the worst part, she just kept going. Jamming and forcing that needle into the top of my hand. All of the sudden she started getting frustrated. She couldn’t hit a vein. What is with these nurses? I was laying as still as I could. Finally, I begged her to put the IV into my upper, underside left arm. I requested this from the beginning, but was denied. Of course, I was right. When she finally caved; it went in like a charm. She could have saved me the worst pain ever and an eventually black and blue hand.

That particular nurse never spoke to me again until I woke up after surgery and she happened to be my watch guard. Ugh. Which she failed at that too, but I’ll loop back to that shortly.

Yet again, face to face, with the younger nurse that previously yelled at me; she was back with her cart and handful of interrogation techniques. She started by asking me my name, my birth date, where I live, why am I here. I guess this is routine to ensure you know what’s going on in the present but thus far into my experience with these nurses, I honestly thought she was asking me because she didn’t have a clue. And this was all before the goo drugs were provided to me.

Next waltzed in Dr. Nasri and his surgical assistant, Mark.
He was fast talking as normal, carried a roller suitcase with him, as if he were about to catch a flight; carry on only style. His assitant, Mark was a hefty white guy, rolly polly, but very nice. They drew up my neck with a black marker. The only time I had thought this was done was for plastic sugery.

He explained, very, quickly, what he was planning on doing and how long he was hoping it would take. He was nicer than in his office, but still not very personalble.

They were there for maybe five minutes. He warned that the anesthesiologist was on her way. “HER” – I was beyond excited for a women to be the one keeping track of my life down under, while in surgery.
One thing I really appreciated most about Nasri was that he worked with his own exclusive team. No one else was let into his circle and none of them worked for the hospital, they were private practices.

Exit surgeon and assistant. It took a few more minutes for her to arrive. To this day, I can’t think of her name. Larsen. Something Larsen, which I considered a good sign, considering my best friend from elementary school’s, maiden name was Larsen, before her parents got hitched. Speaking of good signs, Mark, the surgical assistant – that is my late Uncle’s name. My Dad’s identical twin brother. Another sign that I am just now realizing. I like to think of these three as the Dream Team.

Back to Larsen. Imported from Nasri’s special list of referred anesthesiologists. The way she had her hair and the way she spoke reminded me of a hippy. I loved it. She was real.

She asked me how I was feeling. I said terrified. I chatted with her about a conversation Nasri and I had prior to the surgery about how I did not want to see the operating table. At all. I wanted to be out before I graced that room. She claimed she was mixing me a “cocktail of a lifetime” and that I had nothing to worry about. Right after she injected my IV with this magic, she received a call on her cell from Nasri, following up about that fact that I did not want to see the room and he was ok with that. They said I was small enough, they wouldn’t have a problem transferring my limp body to the operating table. Great!

I would say not even two minutes after the IV injection, I was floating on the best drunk/high feeling I have ever felt. If this was a street drug, I would be an instant addict. It took nothing to kick in. Before I new it, Mark was back and the two of them were rolling me down winding hallways. They started asking me about music. What was my favorite. I said I like rap music and such, but with all honesty, some legit classic rock was my game. They asked who were my favorites and I started listing off: The Doors, The Greatful Dead, The Doobie Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, Boston, Kansas, The Rolling Stones… Before I knew it, they were pushing open a door to a super bright white room. I ended with Led Zeplain.

I remember the room being so small. I thought, ‘is this a black market surgery?!’ It reminded me of a cluttered, sterile closet, with supplies everywhere. There were three big, round lights up top of the silver surgery table. I was in and viewing the place that I never wanted to see. But I was so happy and out of it I didn’t even care! I helped myself onto the operating table and Mark, in the corner asked what I wanted to listen to. I said, “How about Led Zeplain.” He replied, “Good choice!” and from there, I heard him crank the beginning sounds of ‘Ramble On’ and I was done.

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Surgery // Part One

So your going to cut my throat open. That’s the only thought that went through my mind. Surgery was inevitable. I clearly had no choice and my thought process was leaning towards drastic measures.

I met a man named Dr. Sina Nasri. Maureen Parker had referred him. His bed side manor had a solid reputation of not good. He came off intelligent, quick talking, emotionless, and slightly cocky, however I was told he was the best in Las Vegas.

I had the option to check into other surgeons. A few people gave me recommendations. I asked every nurse, technician and doctor I encountered through out my tests, scans, and needle pokes, if they had heard of Nasri and if they knew other doctors that were top notch for neck surgery. I had a few leads, and most had never heard of him, which now I find strange.

I can’t say it was a gut feeling, because after initially walking into his office and finding his staff looking completely unorganized, and his personal lack of apathy, it came naturally to have doubts. But alas, I was drained. All this crazy was a huge blow to my everyday life and I didn’t want to wait so I jumped and took this surgeon with me all the way to the operating room.

I will say now, I feel like a slight asshole for being so judgmental up front. Life literally handed me on a silver plater, the notorious phrase “Never judge a book by it’s cover.” How many times have you heard that? A lot? Well believe it.

——

My original operation date was set for March 15th. I was ready. Prior to that surgery date I had numerous consults with the surgeon, and another biopsy with a new doctor named Creed, at Desert Radiology. He mapped out exactly how far the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes, so Nasri knew what all to remove. Then of course more paperwork.

The day I went to sign my life away and drop a hefty deposit for surgery, I was overwhelmed with what-if’s. I had to initial past countless “possible outcomes” which is terrifying because half these complications of this surgery weren’t even in my mind. They were all declared rare, but come on, this is life, and nothing is guaranteed.

I paid extra to ensure he wouldn’t fuck up my voice box. Sad, that that doesn’t come has part of the deal but I appreciate he takes extra measures that not all doctors do. Insurance typically doesn’t cover this cost, but I’d rather be safe than sorry with a man voice or no voice.

My last appointment was to check in and ensure all my pre-op tests came back legit. My body was ready to be reckoned with. Lungs look good, heart works great, let’s go. But wait, to wait some more. On that last visit, Nasri informed me that he had to reschedule my surgery for the 22 of March, due to conflicting schedules. Fuck. FUCK. There went our Mexico trip, right out the window.

Mexico? Yes, Mexico. How was I thinking of that while I was dealing with cancer? WELL, we booked this trip with Julian’s family almost a year in advance. Thanks life for that wicked curve ball. We were suppose to leave on the 28th of March and come back in April. If my surgery would have been on the 15th, I would have been golden. Exhausted yes, but healed enough to go lay on a beach somewhere in Cancun and enjoy some much needed time away from work and with family. That was canceled instantly.

Another bummer to this reschedule business was that Claud had already booked her tickets and got time off approved from the hospital she works at for the original dates. My nurse, mum in law, came out for an entire week to help Julian take care of me at home in recovery. How lucky is THAT! A lovely personal nurse at home! Anyways… Now we had to scramble to get her plan adjusted and money refunded but also our own. Definitely not something I was in the mood to deal with.

So the new date was set and away we went.

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The Show Must Go On

No one ever, ever wants to hear the word cancer. It’s an infestation to your mind and body. There’s no escaping it. And when you and word cancer are claimed together in the very same sentence, vicious thoughts and ideas and scenarios hit your brain faster than a million seconds times a trillion bullets slash a couple light years and then pluto. Not to make light of the situation, but WOW. It’s brutal. Whether you’re being told you have thyroid cancer or you have one month to live, that inital reaction, is the exact same. Once the logistics are addressed, the game changes and goes it’s different course for everyone. Then. It’s just you. No matter how much support you have, in these moments, it’s just you. You against your mind. What you’re going to do next. How you’re going to handle it. How are you going to tell people? How can you accept it? What’s next, but even that’s too much.

—-

It was 8AM on a Wednesday morning. I was sitting at a little cafe off Flamingo with a co-worker of mine. We were grabbing an early bite to eat before we ventured over to a new children’s clinic in an under privilaged part of Las Vegas for the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way. It was the grand opening. I had just spent the past three months, pouring my creative heart and brain cells into designing the entire inside of this quaint little clinic. From vinyls and wall color placement to furniture, rugs, graphics from floor to ceiling; my heart and soul went into making this a colorful, welcoming place for children and their families. Everything I always hated about doctor’s offices, I did the complete opposite. The outcome was stunning. Gaby and I were popping in to see the finished project and help install one last vinyl.

—-

Early December 2013, I had addressed a concern with the nodule on my thyroid during my women wellness check up with my new nurse practitioner, Maureen Parker at Sparks Family Medical in Summerlin. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t bother me a bit. I thought I would start the new year with a clean slate and face my fears. My 29th birthday reered it’s head that upcoming March. That gave me one year to figure my shit out before I hit 30. She handed me a slip on December 3, 2013 for an ultrasound referral. I again, waited. The excuse, Christmas was coming aided my procrastinate. Then New Years. Ok. I finally scheduled it.

I went to Steinburg diagnostics off St. Rose Pkwy. Paperwork. Waiting. More waiting. Down payment. Procedure.

Enter the dark, yet calm room. I was relaxed. I’d done this before. I knew what to expect. I was just being proactive with my health.

I laid down. This emotionless women put the gel on my neck and went through the standard routine. I tried not to look at the screen. Right side first. She paid a little attention to an enlarged lymph node, but I’ve had that since I can remember. Then the left, in which my head was directly facing the screen. Thyroid! We meet again. Oh hey nodule, you’re still there. Knew that. Then I closed my eyes and waited for it to be over. She took a lot more images that anticipated which elevated my conciousnous of thinking something was different. Ding. Ding. Every time a photo was taken a little bell rang. All these technicians are different. I didn’t question anything until I was on my way out. I asked “So, everything still there?” in which she replied “Yes.” I asked “Was there a reason for a whole left thyroid photo shoot?” Intending on making light of the situation, I felt the need to crack her into pretending maybe she was nice? She replied, “There are multiple nodules spotted, some solid, some cyst like.” And that was it.

I froze inside, but kept walking as she showed me the way out. Julian met me in the lobby where I had left him. I tried to keep myself together, clutching my bag, until we started walking through the doors of the building. Nearing the car I started breathing heavy, and instantly upon buckling my seat belt, tears streamed. Intuition hit. He begged “What’s wrong!” And all I could break out at first was, “there’s multiple.”

Now I knew I had two abnormal things in my neck. The main nodule and then a smaller cyst below it. That’s two. She said multiple. Not a couple, not two, not a few, multiple.

—-

We had a trip scheduled for Minneapolis the next week on terms of a photo shoot. I let myself slightly freak out that day of the ultrasound until I wrapped my head around everything and then tricked myself into thinking she probably is being overly critical to make sure everything is looked at. Anything can look suspicious when your browsing around a human body. It’s complicated. I feel fine. Running every day, nothing hurts, I’m not tired. Life is good. So I pushed it out of my mind again and prepared for the trip.

Minneapolis in the dead of winter is beautiful. White everything, everywhere. It was so damn cold in the mornings, well actually, the entire time. When we’d get up and in the car, it was impossible to stay tired. It makes you feel so alive! The air in your lungs, the feeling is indescribable. Julian claimed to hate the whole damn winter thing. I Think he was just being a Nancy. I love bundling up. I love it being so cold you can’t leave the loft one day so the option of staying inside and cuddled up on a couch, watching it snow out the windows that surround you, is not stressful at all. The few times in my life I never feel pressured to do something with my time.

We had a three day photo shoot and there no down time. Everything went smooth and it was so wonderful to be surrounded by the creative ora that Intermedia Arts gives off. I work with these people on a daily basis but we never get to see each other anymore. The whole week was great.

On the last day of the photo shoot we got caught in a blizzard but the show must go on! A ten minute drive from downtown to uptown took us an hour and 15 minutes. I thought of it as a wild adventure as Julian’s mouth cussed like a sailor as he listed off all the reasons we were going to buy a house as soon as we got back to the desert. I laughed.

When we finally made it, we were a bit rushed in the beginning. As we got the afternoon under control, I was sitting and editing on stage when I got a phone call. It was my doctor’s office. They said after the recent ultrasound my doctor was referring me to get a CT scan. WHAT. Ok. I’ve been avoiding this for four years. “Do I have any other options?” I pleaded? Nope.

All day I was freezing, in the dead of the great Minnesota snow. Earlier I had to shovel our car out a space in the parking lot in my giant heeled boots I wore and pleather pants that made my legs feel like my skin was out in the open. They took a cold beating to the wind. But I mad it fun! And now I was sweating like a basketball player running a hundred suicides in a burkim yoga studio.

I didn’t waste time but my doctor’s office sure did. I called Steinberg to schedule a CT scan for as soon as I landed back in Vegas. Oh, you haven’t received my referral yet and you won’t put me in the books until you see it come across? Right. Let me call my doctor back. Sparks, what’s good? Just give us a few we have to get it approved by your insurance. Well fucking get it approved before you call me because I’m now panicking, trying to finish this major shoot and don’t have time to be wasting on playing phone tag to get this scheduled. I’m a business women that wants to take care of a business. Especially when my health is involved. It was a total run around. Note, I have a PPO plan through Seirra Health and Life and as far as I’ve always been told, I don’t need referrals. Liars. Through a new found strand of patience, finally my CT scan was in the books. One week from that day.

I’ve never had a CT scan. I was terrified of the needle that was going to go in my arm for the contrast. It almost ruined a good ending to a great trip back in Minneapolis, but I was thankful to spend our last few hours home at The Murray bungalow, eating pizza with immediate family and our friend’s Andrea and Thomas.

—-

Vegas. I didn’t miss you. Agency life hit strong like a brick wall, as it always does when you’ve been gone for more than a day. This time, add doctor appointments to the mix. It wouldn’t be until that awful morning phone call I would let anyone aware of what was going on because at that point I didn’t even know. It was killing me. But like was it literally killing me? What was killing me? The waiting? My thyroid? The stress of the unknown? No one said I had cancer yet. I could be freaking out over nothing. Thanks media and society for brain fucking me to instantly think the worst before I had any solid evidence.

The CT scan was quick. Maybe 45 minutes. Paperwork. Down payment. Waiting. Change of clothes. More waiting. Scanner time.

The needle hurt. They always do. This one hurt a lot. The contrast literally made me feel like I had pissed my pants. They assured me I had not. The actual scans, two passes, took five minutes and I had to hold dead still. I tried to look at their faces when I was on my way out. You know they saw those images right away on their screens, behind that glass window, but no one spoke.

—-

Breakfast came out looking delicious. Gaby and I were splitting an omelet and some fruit and toast. My phone rings. I didn’t recognize the number. I answered “This is Lacey!” It was Maureen Parker.

She calmly asked, where I was and if I was at work. I told her, “Well, kind of. I have an installation at a children’s clinic and am currently at a cafe, about to eat breakfast.” She continued “Well, your test results came back from your CT scan and it’s safe to say, you do indeed have cancer.” Long pause. I can’t imagine my face. Gaby stared at me. You could see from her expression “What’s wrong?!” I had to catch my breath. It’s safe to say I have cancer? Really? Safe? That’s the word you chose, doctor? Maureen asked if I was still there. I don’t remember anything else she said except, “Did you still want to keep your appointment with me this afternoon?” I stuttered, “Yes of course, why wouldn’t I?!” – “Well alright, we can talk more about it then. Take care of yourself.” Click.

I was having panic attacks as my mind frolicked wildly in circles before and after the CT, awaiting the results. I had been trying to get in to see her and what she recommended I do to keep my head on straight while I waited, but she was booked a week out when I last called. I mean, I have to work, I have a team to look after, with deadlines. I have a freelance business, a husband, a cat, a life. I can’t just keep being a bi-polar roller coaster while all this waiting is forced on me.

I excused myself from the breakfast table, trying to find the bathroom and Julian on my phone through a massive tear build up. He couldn’t even understand me when he answered. It was one of those moments I really needed to break down, but wait! Que business mindset. My make-up, my outfit, my mission to finish this children’s clinic. What the fuck was going on? I was dizzy. I finally got across to him with what Maureen just filled my ear with. I could hear his voice trying to be strong but it trembled on the other end. “Do you want me to come get you?” “No. I Can’t. I’ll call you.” I could not let this ruin me there, not yet. Soon though.

I was still a mess when I walked back out to the table. I kept my head down, taking deep breaths. Gaby and I sat in silence for a few minutes. Our food was there. I could barely eat. And then I told her I was just informed I have cancer. Mind you, no one ever said what kind, they just scanned my neck and I was assuming it was my thyroid, but where and how much and how can they tell from just a scan and oh my god, now what? I teared up a little and she asked if I wanted to go home. No. The show must go on.

We wrapped the tab and got to the United Way children’s clinic. It was awesome there. Perfect and bright. All the hard work I had put into the designs of this placed turned out wonderful. I tuned my emotions out and laid the last vinyls that were needed. Then, Gaby offered me her car o get back to the office. I went. I don’t know how I drove that morning. When I got there, I literally tried to sit at my desk four differnt times and would instantly feel the tears swell so I would get up before anyone saw me and go to the bathroom. That fourth time, I ran into one of my best friend’s Haley. I lost it. For the time.

I’m glad it was her that walked in, but I can’t imagine the sight I was. I didn’t expect her to say anything. She tried to calmly ask questions but in the end she just stood in there with me. No one else came in. Best possible scenario ever. Ten minutes later I composed myself, and toughed out the rest of the day to 3PM when I met with Maureen, face to face. Julian picked me up another extremely close friend of mine, Bonnie came too. She was a little late, so we were already in conversation with Doctor Parker when she peeked her head in the room and I waved her away.

Maureen was calm as always. It was just us three. She repeated our phone conversation. I could’t stop shaking. She started the whole “The possible good news is, if it’s thyroid cancer, which it is most likely, it’s the ‘good’ kind of cancer to have. Treatable. etc…” No. Don’t you ever let someone say that to you. The emotional toll alone makes it awful. Remember what I said in the beginning? About how the initial shock of even the mention cancer in your body triggers paranoia beyond your wildest dreams? There is no good cancer. It’s all fucked. But now, I had to deal with the fact that I have cancer and go through more shit to find out exactly what kind and where exactly it all is.

She prescribed me two different anxiety pills, in extra small doses, due to my parents past with alcoholism. I myself drink casually and work in a high stress career, which made her cautious. She then referred me a surgeon, which she instantly admitted he had a terrible bed side manor to him but was the best in the area. Whoa now. I was thinking, ok biopsy time. But no, she had a list. An endocrinologist, a surgeon, a biopsy, a chest x-ray, and an oncologist.

This all may seem over dramatic, but this is exactly how it unfolded and if you know me, I only bullshit if I am forced to in a client meeting. And even then, that’s not the way I prefer to construct business. It’s my style. These are all literal thoughts I had for split seconds, running to the tips of my nerve endings. It’s so much to process.

All these appointments were a few weeks with in each other. I broke. This all happened on a Wednesday and I didn’t go to work for the rest of the week. I stayed in my bed for almost three days, crying on and off, trying to figure out how to tell family. Considering surgery. I’ve never broken a bone and they are talking major neck surgery? Why me? Why not me? Why didn’t I get this taken care of four years ago? Did I kill myself? My mind would not stop. Julian is a saint for his patience. Eventually I went numb and only cried with every phone call I made. I had to repeat the information so many friends and family. I got to a point where I stopped answering phone calls when people would call to just say hi, thinking of you! Thank goodness everyone understood. Well most.

This was all the worst part. I came out of this hopeless black in about a week. I didn’t do much research on the internet because that always makes situations worse and doubtful. I did discover a girl’s blog though. Lydia. It was the only anything I had read that seemed to relate and I can definitely say it inspired me. WE are very different yet going through a similar situation can really bring strangers together. She is a wonderful, talented law student based out of Chicago and her story is courageous.

When I pulled myself back to work, I gave minimal details until everything was confirmed. They were extremely supportive through this whole wild experience. For that, I am grateful.

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