Doctor Update

I thought I would pass along my latest update for you.

As many of you already know my thyroid cancer has returned and decided to take residence in my lungs.  I have a small tumor that needs to be taken care of.  I am working on getting things in place to try a treatment fairly new.  I’ve heard back a second time from insurance on getting my medication needed to start and again they won’t cover it.

This has made my kids mad…me, not so much.  This is why.  Mayo Clinic contacted me and said there is a way to get the medicine for free through the company.  If it’s widely known the company that makes the meds gives it freely to people with a lower income (like me), why should the insurance company cover it?   Regardless the paperwork has been filled out and things are slowly getting figured out.

This is all just a hurtle and I’m sure it will get figured out.  I’m not going to fret about it.

I started collecting groceries for the diet part of this all…

These are some no salt added products.  It takes a little finagling to get it all.  I was to Walmart and to our regular grocery store.  It’s hard to find items.


One thing I discovered last time while on the diet was these.  They come from Dollar Tree.  They are $1 a bag and were a lifesaver.  They are Freeze-Dried fruits.  Last time they had strawberry and apple.  This time I could only find Mango and Banana but bananas are not recommended food so…I picked up five packs of Mango.  I asked the lady stocking the shelves if… they get others in and she said they get what they get and they never know.  So…I put a call out to my kids to check the Dollar Tree stores and see if they can find strawberry or apple.

These saved me when I was traveling.  They taste like candy.  I really like them.

I ended up in town the other day and stopped again at Dollar Tree hoping they might have stocked another flavor but sadly, there were none…not even more Mango.

I know I could likely get freeze-dried fruit somewhere else but we live so rural, there is no place around here with it.  That’s a frustration I’ve had a lot.  I joined a group for Low Iodine Diet on Facebook and so often they list something as being “legal” to eat…but I know there is nowhere to find that in our area.

Now the hardest thing for me is more mentally.  In public, people I know have started looking at me differently.  The news is out that my cancer has returned.  Conversations have started to be awkward.  People ask my kids all the time, “How is your mom d-o-i-n-g?”.  Cancer has again become the big elephant in the room.  Everyone wants to ask about it, but no one asks…or they ask really awkwardly.

I feel like people look at me to see if I’m losing hair if I look more tired if I look healthy.  It makes being in public really awkward.  I don’t get treated like my regular old self anymore.

People are so awkward.  They just don’t know what to say.

I’ve learned through all of this, and Kramer’s ordeal with cancer is that there are two kinds of people.  People who truly care, and people who are just nosey and want the dirt so they can share it at the coffee shop.  I don’t care to be the coffee shop topic and that’s one of the reasons I’m so open here.  Everyone gets the same information…thus no reason to chit-chat about it all.

We, my kids and me, know people care…we know they mean well, but we just want to be normal.  We don’t want the out from having to make brownies for the potluck.  We don’t want the out from having to do our part of volunteering.  We really just want to be normal.  We want to laugh, joke, play games, drink a beer, do our hobbies, and love on each other like we always do.  We want to live life without a cloud over our heads.  YES, we know I have cancer and there will be days that the cancer will be the focus, but there are so many days and opportunities in between those cancer moments for some real fun.  We want to focus on the fun.


Even going to my appointments, Kalissa and I make having fun a high priority.

One of the nicest things people say is “I was thinking of you and hope you’re doing well”.  This lets me talk about cancer if I want to.  It lets me not talk about it if I don’t want to.  I appreciate that and it’s a sign that the person is a real friend.

I’ve gotten cards from many of you…They are “I’m thinking of you cards” or cards of hope.  I’ve really appreciated them and I thank you for them.  A couple of people have sent money to be used towards gas and travel once I get to that point.  I really appreciate that.  It’s such a blessing to know that you all are cheering me on.

Right now the tumor in my lungs is 1 1/2 cm in size.  I am bound and determined that it is only going to take up 1 1/2 cm of my life.  For those of you wondering 1 1/2 cm is about the size of the end section of your pinky finger.   That’s not very big.  I’m only going to let cancer at this point, take up that much of my life. I am not cancer.  I am me.  I am so much more than cancer.

So…if you see me on the street…if you see my kiddos around town.  Remember we are all so much more than the 1 1/2 cms of cancer.  We laugh, we love, we participate, we live just like we always have.  Cancer is just a blip in our lives.

35 thoughts on “Doctor Update

  1. Jazz

    Jo, some us live in cities where there is more variety of products. Please list everything you need and I (and, I bet, others) will be on the lookout in our areas. We will mail it to you.
    Please let us do for you as you have done for all of us.

    Reply
    1. Cheryl in Dallas

      Everyone agrees with Jazz. Many of us would be tickled to send things we can find in our area — like you let us participate in The Great Strip Caper For The Halloween Quilt.

      Reply
  2. Kate

    You have such a good attitude and so wise to view your cancer as not being you. You don’t want it to consume you, although I’m sure there are times it may consume more of your thoughts than you want it to. I think it is so wonderful that you have quilting, cross-stitching, kiddos, and more to keep you centered. Your family is a blessing. I liked the picture of you and Kalissa having fun “in spite of…”!!

    Reply
    1. Sharon Opsahl

      I wish I had your attitude. I admire you for everything you do in your life. God bless you and your family.❤️

      Reply
  3. Angela J Short

    Hello Jo. I sometimes order healthy foods & vitamins online. There’s a small organic shop in our little town but most of the same exact items are much, much cheaper online. One store I’ve ordered foods & snacks from for years is “Vitacost”. They have wonderful customer service & they will replace or refund any damaged items. They package items with much care. (I’m not affiliated with them or anything). The other store is “I-Herb”. Both places have super sales often, especially “Vitacost”. Just thought I’d pass this info along. We live over an hour to most big stores, but we do have 2 grocery stores & a few Dollar Gen store. :-) :-)

    Reply
    1. Susan from Michigan

      I agree iherb is great. It is pretty easy to get free shipping. They package items well and send them timely.

      I admire your wonderful attitude, Jo.

      Reply
  4. Lucia Hopple

    The freeze dried fruits( also fresh) and many, many other foods without salt are available on line. I know it is more expensive . You are worth “more expensive”! I imagine people send you recipes and I think it is helpful to make some new things just for you to try and treat yourself. I hope you will at least google and see what all you could have!Good Luck!

    Reply
  5. Shelley

    Jo, I found both the strawberry and apple. :) They are on the way, however, the package won’t arrive until about the 29th. I’m sending you positive thoughts and my best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving for you and your family.

    Reply
  6. brendalynne1

    oh how many times we heard Nanny, Aunties,cousins and son in law say the very same thing. I am not cancer…… One thing that causes anxiety is that every one with it has an individual reaction. Most of us do not want to appear uncaring by not asking BUT we do not want to n=intrude into their privacy. With so many family members plus family with it I guess I just ask the dumb question about what they need from me ..
    Also, how does the salt/iodine free diet make you feel strength and energy-wise?

    Reply
  7. Ellie

    Thanks once again for a post that helps all of us. Of course we care about you but you are so good in helping us care for the others around us. Jo you are a wonder and a blessing to all!

    Reply
  8. Nyla McIntyre

    Thank you for teaching me how to be a blessing instead of a burden. I so admire you and your family and look forward to your blogs. I live near the largest city in SD— Sioux Falls and would love to shop for foods to help you with the diet. Please send a list of foods you would like and will do my best to find and send to you.

    Reply
  9. Sarah F.

    Just thought I would let you know that I have seen $1 pkgs of freeze dried fruit at my newer Dollar General store. I have bought lots of the peaches and have seen apple and mango there also. Keep up your great attitude.

    Reply
  10. Nancy Elliott

    I have lost several members of my family to cancer. I was just wondering if you can’t get help from your insurance or the drug provider would you or your family consider setting up a go fund me page? I am positive that a lot of your readers would like the ease and privacy of such a option.

    Reply
    1. Anne

      I think this is an excellent idea.
      Just a few dollars per person could make the world of difference.
      I live in The Netherlands and I so look forward to getting Jo’s posts in the morning.
      I love her family and the town where she lives.

      Reply
  11. Nancy

    Hi Jo,
    Sending you prayers. I just went thru a double mastectomy for cancer. Everybody kept asking me how could I be so calm about my diagnosis. I just told them it was a blip on the screen of my life, it was not my life. I had a lot of people praying for me. It turns out they got all the cancer and my genomic testing show a very low chance of it coming back. Please list some of the items you need so more of use can help you out. People have come forward from my church to mow my lawn, vacuum, cook and so much more. I’m on a very limited income and one member even paid for my two heating fuel tanks to be filled for the winter. I know it’s hard to ask for help, I never asked anyone for help in my life before. Please let us help you. And Thank you for sharing with use
    God Bless and have a wonderful Thanksgiving

    Reply
  12. Susan from Michigan

    I agree iherb is great. It is pretty easy to get free shipping. They package items well and send them timely.

    I admire your wonderful attitude, Jo.

    Reply
  13. Mary S

    I have only two blogs I follow. The other is from Australia and relates to embroidery. Both of you are inspirations to my life.
    I did order a sweatshirt on Etsy from your daughter and eagerly await its arrival.
    Keep living life as if there is no tomorrow snd hugs your kids every chance you get. Life is precious and you are an inspiration to enjoy it!

    Reply
  14. Janice

    Jo, you can buy direct from bfruitful. Their websites shows you can buy a pack of 12 for $19.99 ,and there is a code for free shipping. Can’t recall what you had said in an earlier post but how long are you on this diet?

    Reply
  15. Sally

    I work in the produce department of a grocery store, so of course I am thinking of all the fruits and vegetables that would be ok for you to eat. Don’t forget about them! So many vegetables can be eaten raw as well as cooked. It might be fun to try vegetables and fruit that you haven’t tried before (if there are any…lol). And please do let us know if we can be on the lookout for anything in particular.

    Reply
  16. Patt Weimer

    You nailed it, jo! You are not the sum total of the ‘C’, you are the total of You. There of countless praying for you & your family, we were before, we will continue throughout this & beyond. I admire your outlook.

    Reply
  17. JANICE RUSSELL

    Your attitude is half the battle, Jo. Remain upbeat and cheerful as possible. Your family is so good to always be there for you and support you; you are very lucky.

    I find that if there is anything I cannot find locally, I can always find it on Amazon. Just type in what you need and you will get it in a couple of days. And you don’t have to get out and drive to find it either.

    Reply
  18. Lorraine

    I was recently diagnosed with cancer. Two of the sweetest comments I have heard are. “I’m walking beside you through this” and “You’re a strong woman; you’ll get through this”. I think both would apply to you, Jo. I also find that those who have had cancer have the most helpful comments.

    Reply
  19. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Just like with any disability or medical condition, no one should be defined by their diagnosis. You are not cancer, someone who has autism, CP, mental retardation, cancer, diabetes…those things are just a part of what what they are and those terms should not be used to define them. If you describe someone as “autistic”, you are defining them as only that and not recognizing that it is only a part of them. Your attitude is so wonderful and the loving support of your family and friends will be sustaining you through this part of your journey. Like others here have said, if you put on your blog what you need for the no salt, no iodine part of this journey, you will be inundated with those items!! Now I just need to find a Dollar Tree!

    Reply
  20. Carol Stearns

    My husband and I both had colonoscopies in 2020. I was good. He had colon cancer and had 12″ removed. He is doing great! Then in August of this year he had surgery to correct a “lump” in his throat. The surgeon made an error and he spent 16 days in hospital with a tube in his nose, unable to eat or drink anything for 16 days. Don’t know why I’m sharing but just for you to know we are with you and know this will be treated and well! He is doing well now and it is really good to get a handle on any health problem to catch it early. You are early! Early JO!

    Reply
  21. Cindie Winquist

    I’m so very glad you posted this today. I have several friends who have received the news of a difficult diagnosis. I want to help, but sometimes don’t know what to do or say. One friend’s 8-month-old grandchild is going through cancer treatments and words don’t come easily. All I could do was send a card to assure them of my prayers and offer “help” in the form of a gift card to help them buy fuel for the many trips back and forth to the hospital. Your post today helped confirm that this was an appropriate thing to do.

    I walked alongside my mom as a caregiver after she received the diagnosis of ‘Alzheimer’s’ and saw how friends seemed to fall away, not knowing how to support her, or me as I tried to help her. One friend, however, had the amazing ability to “read between the lines” in my update posts and would just show up at all the right times. Another friend sent amazing handmade cards in the mail each and every week. Each card contained something encouraging: a scripture verse, an inspiring quote from a book or poem, or the lyrics to a meaningful hymn or praise song. I aspire to “show up” just like them in someone else’s journey of illness or caregiving.

    God bless you, Joyful Jo. I aspire to have your same joyful attitude should I ever receive a difficult diagnosis too. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Reply
  22. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, I really like your personal diagnosis of the cancer situation a 1 and 1/2 centameter of cancer gets only a 1 and1/2centrmeter of your time. I am so glad to have met you through your blog you have helped me countless times now. I am continuing praying for you. It’s the one thing I can do. In caring for people for a job. I learned that attitude is 90% of healing. Enjoy every bit of your life. I am cheering for you.

    Reply

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