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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biopsy, Health, November, Operation, Surgery, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

F*ck You, Calcium

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Today. 11:30AM. Desert Radiology bound for what I thought was just an ultrasound. Just kidding. Tack on another biopsy. Dr. Mecca was out on vacation but for some reason my surgeon didn’t know that…
I didn’t catch today’s doctors name. He was young. He looked like a dear caught in some headlights when he came in; totally not expecting to be performing this lower sternum biopsy. He even admitted that. Stab. Stab. Stab. The numbing hurt like a mofo. After that it was eight different needles worth of uncomfortable pulsing. One literally felt like it hit the back of my throat. That did me in for a jolt. Two hours later – I’m late for my bloodwork appointment all the way across town. My nurse and I quickly faked a “STAT” signature on all my bloodwork forms, she put in a call to Quest, and away I went. I was 15 minutes late. Not bad. I waited another half hour. 10 tubes of blood and almost 18 hours fasting, I was on my way home. No energy to snag that chest x-ray I still need to complete all my pre-op confirmations.

I get home. Ate. Let the cat outside and then settled back in to finish my work up for the day. (Note, I am STILL working and it’s 7PM my local time.) I receive a phone call at 5PM from my regular physician who was concerned about my dangerously low calcium levels. Weird. I feel fine. And how did she get those results so fast?

She then proceeded to ask for my surgeon’s contact information and endocrinologist’s info so she could relay these findings to them on Monday. Until then, she insisted I pick up a prescription she called into the pharmacy for some sort of Calcium pills and urged if I ever felt numb, tingly, or had any muscle spasms to immediately go to the ER. Wow. Totally not what I was expecting. This was already a long enough day as it was. This better not jack up my surgery date.

On the brink of all this crazy, one really fun thing did find itself at my doorstep this evening. An adorable Fall-o-ween care package from Jim and Peggy Murray! Filled to the brim with the most fun things; from candies and cat toys, to hair product samples and so many more bright and colorful things – You two Wisconsinites sure know how to make a gal feel like a kid again! Oh! And speaking of kids. A childhood friend, whom I’ve known since the dawn of kindergarten will be crashing at Casa De La Murr tonight. So excited to have her and her beau stay for the evening!

Stay cozy everyone.

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November, Operation, Surgery, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

A Rainy Wednesday in the Desert

I woke up to the sounds of rain this morning. It’s fall in the desert; temperatures barely gracing the mid-sixties.
Julian and I just got back from a forty-eight hour adventure to Minneapolis for Halloween. It was such a lovely visit.
Pulling myself in every which way possible, I managed to roll out from under the cozy warm blankets and a snuggling cat. My last surgeon appointment was this morning where I signed my life away, once again, to the care of Dr. Nasri. I would have much rather stayed in bed.

Initial here. Initial there. Initials everywhere. I made it though the stack of papers. I read all the descriptions I was initialing the first time, but I decided to skim over most of these this morning due to all the gory details they list out of what could happen. No need to feed my anxiety monster anymore – he’s a bit plump already.

From there back to a room I went. My appointment was at 9:45AM and of course he finally entered around 11:15. Ridiculous. He informed us that he took a second look at the PET scan and spoke with Dr. Mecca who performed my biopsy. Nasri noticed a bit more of a glow in some nodes near my sternum as well. I have a measuring/mapping appointment with Dr. Mecca on Friday. He will perform another ultrasound on my neck to confirm the exact location of the lymph nodes that need to be removed. They upped my surgical procedure from a simple left neck dissection to a left modified radical neck dissection paired with a mediastinal dissection. He plans to clear out various lymph nodes in both areas in attempt to prevent the cancer from spreading into my lungs. He insists I am RAI resistant and that the chance of reoccurrence after this surgery is yet again possible.

Proceeding all this nerve wrecking info, this office has a special procedure they perform in preparation for surgery where they check your vocal cords. They numb your nose and shove a little tube with a light on the end down each nostril. Totally. Torture. As well, you are required to pay additional $ that is not covered by insurance for a nerve and vocal cord monitoring. Better safe than sorry, but all these little things just add to the total dramatic experience.

As always, a time has not yet been assigned for the day of surgery – I’ll know 24 in advance. Nasri said this particular procedure should take 2-3 hours instead of 5-6 like the first round. I’ll take that as pretty much the only win so far in this repeat horror story.

Tomorrow I head to my regular physicians office for a slew of blood work, EKG, and chest x-rays for pre-op purposes.
Friday the mapping ultrasound, and from there we are headed into the final countdown.

I’m feeling confident, but that comes and goes. I sometimes still can’t believe this is my life. That I am dealing with such a resilient disease. I’ve never once said “why me” because really, why not me? Why not anyone? It’s just frusterating. Life is such a gamble that no one is in control of.

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Operation, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

Operation

November 19, 2015. T-Minus 29 days before I go under the knife for the second time.

I met with my surgeon last Friday afternoon before I cut off to California for a couple days (Much needed!). It was surreal to be back in that office again. The girls up at the front were much nicer this time around. Nasri didn’t seem quite as awful as he did in the past. He gives it to you straight, which is generally terrifying, but I tried to give it right back to him. I questioned if these newly diagnosed lymph nodes were something he missed or if it’s new cell growth. He claims it’s hard to say – He cleaned out about as many of those little bastards as he could in the first surgery and one year ago my blood levels displayed a clear pallet.

90% of thyroid cancer patients are cured with surgery and RAI. I am in that top 10% that didn’t get so lucky. In that 10%, he placed me in the 8% category of having a more aggressive form of PTC, which may or may not, have me jetting off to another state eventually for further testing. We won’t know anything about that until after surgery. The good news is they located these nodes which means the disease isn’t lost somewhere in my body. “That would be really bad.” Nasri states.

My nerves started to get the best of me when he was reading the biopsy report and measuring areas of my neck. The location of the nodes and his ruler were off. I pulled out my phone with the image of the biopsy marks to show him where exactly I was stabbed. He was grateful for the photo – but why am I providing crucial information for surgery mapping? He was surprised that my neck had no source of any tenderness. I swear I am immune to health issue symptoms or maybe I was just raised to be tough? I plan to request the ultrasound images and inquire about another imaging session before surgery to ensure he knows exactly where he is headed.

I will get graced with a new scar since these nodes are located further down the left side, towards my color bone. Ahh well, just a little extra character. This surgery gets a little more complicated due to the fact that we are now going to be digging around near two major arteries in the lower neck. I’m trying not to think about that. I asked if he felt confident in the surgery, to which he replied “Of course, I’m the best there for this job.” And so it goes; my life is once again in Nasri and his team’s hands.

Until then, I’m doing my best to go about things at a normal pace. KIDDING. That’s not at all in my nature. I’m currently balls to the walls in design projects, yard decorating, cat snuggling, doctor appointments, and gearing up for a quick trip to Minneapolis. A possible jaunt to CA or UT before surgery as well. And today, I’m taking a few hours to myself, spa bound, with a book and an eighty minute massage scheduled (Thanks, Claud-O!).

As the days roll closer to the 19th, this whole oh so cool, clam and in control of the situation attitude will fade some – But hell, for now, the world does not stop moving for anyone or anything – Why should I?

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biopsy, ThyCa, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

Déjà vu

Bacon

Guilty. I love bacon.

Tuesday night as I laid in bed, unable to sleep at the thought of yesterday morning’s verdict, I predicted to Julian “Tomorrow, the doctor is going to say, ‘All your scans did come back clear, however through further testing with the ultrasound guided biopsy, it looks as though both suspicious lymph nodes did come back positive for cancer.'” I was spot on.

Iodine scan – Clear.
PET/CT – Clear outside of a small glow in my lower left neck.
Ultrasound Biopsy – Both enlarged nodes tested positive for PTC spread in my lower left neck

I inquired, if these were missed during my first surgery or gradually grew? Due to my blood work track record, I was clear after my RAI treatment for a solid year. However, at some point, a few nasty, microscopic cells threw a party and here we are again. My endo is also currently assuming that I am non-avid or resistant to the RAI, which will possibly require further testing after my next surgery at a research facility. I have an appointment scheduled with my surgeon tomorrow afternoon. Dr. Sina Nasri will be performing the procedure once again. They have a terrible website, so maybe we can trade services? I am also being proactive in the sense of scheduling an appointment with my oncologist on Monday to get a second opinion on what I should contemplate after this next surgery, considering my situation is getting a bit more complicated with the reoccurrence.

This has all been a blow to the positivity train I’ve been riding. I feel weird. I’m frustrated. I’m nervous. Why wouldn’t my endo notice my thyroglobulin levels rising way back in March? It’s even obvious to me after sifting through a years worth of blood work results that tumor marker levels were on the rise. I feel like I am starting all over – to an extent. It’s very hard to concentrate on my every day life. There is a new form of numbness to my emotions that I hate. I don’t want to lose my passion. I’m scared, yes. Will this forever keep popping up at the most random times? Totally possible. Thyroid cancer ain’t nothin’ to f*ck with.

Onward.

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biopsy, Health, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

“LUCY! You have some explainin’ to do!”

Biopsy yesterday morning has left me looking like Dracula swooped in for a quick little snack. Pretty sore. Nothing found on the right side. Two suspicious nodes on the left which they stabbed the sh*t out of and that was that. Results  – October 14th. I am happy to say I will have Claud the Broad and Todd in town for the big reveal. I plan to have my Mum-in-Law come to the appointment with me so we can drill this doctor for every piece of information she is worth.

fuck_cancer

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Health, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

Here We Go Again

Life is so … interesting. Most of the time it makes no sense. Why are we here? What is the point? Are we just some maddening experiment, or just a bunch of cells that got tossed together and now here we are as these complex beings, with emotions that run wild and on top of it all; bodies that are vulnerable to so many different things. Yet at the same time, these brains of ours, so complicated and formative. So intriguing and personality based, with such character and grace. Is it all by accident or is there really some greater beings out there controlling and watching and guiding us all through life’s crazy circumstances, most that don’t even make sense.

I’ve recently been going through some major soul searching. Searching for absolutely anything to make a sense out of certain situations. In this case, my battle with thyroid cancer. Just hearing the word cancer is a body deafening sound. No matter the severity of it – it’s something I wish upon no one. And even though, the word was first brought into my life over a year ago, and I’ve been well aware it’s something that I could battle forever, it never seizes to be so emotionally impactful.

If you’ve read this far into my story, things have been going rather smoothly. Updates from my doctors and everything in between have been on the up and up until the other day.

I had my first yearly iodine scan. Four months late, mind you, because my endocrinologist insisted I receive Thyrogen shots but neglected to tell me my insurance has never covered them in the first place. I was on and off the phone with so many people, trying to figure out how to get these shots so I could stay on my thyroid medications. In the last year since my surgery and RAI treatment I’ve been feeling great. I didn’t want to fuck all that up now, but in the end, it still happened and it set everything back, complimented by some bad news. As I was off my thyroid meds for four weeks, and though my Iodine scans came back clear, which I thought was a positive prognosis, come to find out, my blood work proves otherwise, with off the chart thyroglobulin levels at 72 when they should be lower than 1, signaling possible residing cancer cells left in my body.

Numerous testing has started again to pin point where these cells might be. I endured a PET/CT scan today. My best friend Andi came with me at 6AM this morning, just to be sent home because they planned to inject me with MORE radioactive regiments which are not suggested to be around pregnant women. That totally sucked; to lose my favorite cheerleader and all her amazing positivity by my side. Not to mention, how much radio active shit that has been flushed through my body in the last year, am I going to ever have issues with fertility if I decide to have children someday? All theseTHINGS! It’s so overwhelming.

My main man Keith, who administered my iodine scan just a week ago was on my PET/CT scan case today which was cool. I really like him. Unfortunately he was the one having the rough time nailing a vein for the catheter, so another girl came in and snagged it away. My arms look like I am a recovering heroin addict at this point though. Rough.

From these tests – Worst case scenario: Thyroid cancer cells have metastasized to my spine, other lymph nodes, or my lungs. Best case scenario: There is some residual thyroid cells, cancerous or not, left in my neck bed and they will be removed with another round of surgery. The RAI treatment I went through last May didn’t seem to work, so my body may be rejecting it. Lame. It’s already been a hell of a year, I’m really in need of some good news.

Next up: Neck Ultrasound with possible biopsies of anything funky looking. This will take place Thursday morning at 10AM.
I have an appointment scheduled with my endocrinologist October 14th to declare the results of all testing and what’s next. I also decided to be proactive and contact an oncologist I was seeing in the beginning of my initial diagnosis, almost two years ago, just in case something unexpected claims dues on my health.

So now, it’s hurry up and wait. Story of my life.
Here are a few pictures from today as I got poked, waited and felt defeated at the fact that I am in this position again so soon.

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Health, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroids

SEPTEMBER – Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

I’m a little late. A whole month to be exact. And what a month to be late for! September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month. I’ve been doing my very best to spread as much information, support, and mindfulness pertaining to all that effects current fighters, like myself, cancer free survivors, and everyone that helps support us all as we endure this quite terrifying and unpredictable experience.

I started the campaign below last year after my first surgery and RAI treatment. As a designer, I wanted to create something eye catching yet blunt to get people interested and get them aware in another way outside a butterfly, that Thyroid Cancer is a major life changing event and is on the rise. My goal is to continue to move this WhatThyroid? campaign forward with a website and some collateral in the up-coming year to help support individuals in financial need, that get diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.

It’s been very impressive to find how many people, including myself before diagnosis, that do not embrace the slightest bit of knowledge about what a thyroid is or what it does for our bodies. Though in most cases, Thyroid Cancer is treatable, there are many ups and downs, mentally and physically that go along with this scandalous disease. More people need to start taking an annual neck check seriously. I recall back to how naive I was the first time they even discovered a nodule in my neck. I waited FIVE years to even do anything about it because I was scared. It set me up for a more severe circumstance later in my life.

When officially diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer at the top of 2014 – Completing numerous biopsies, x-rays, scans, a totally thyroidectomy, a double dose of RAI, and uncountable blood work session since, at the young age of 30, complications have now arose. I felt the need to take a minute and start the month of October with a huge shout out to everyone that has or is fighting this same battle – You are not alone! I urge anyone and everyone to please not take something that you might think of as a simple organ or check up, for granted. CHECK YOUR NECK!

More from me on my developments soon. Positive vibes are greatly needed. xo

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