Seven years ago, on this very day, I wrote this on my Facebook page.
“I’m wearing my “Gonna be a good day” socks from the Sloans. I’m off for my follow-up appointment in LaCrosse today. I am hoping for a good pathology report and to have my no-lifting ban removed.“
I had just a week or so ago had surgery to remove my thyroid. I was going back to get my stitches out. Naive me didn’t have a clue of how those few minutes in the doctor’s office would change my life.
The whole day was off and weird. On our way into Lacrosse, I was doctoring there then, just as we were about to cross the bridge over the Mississippi, our pickup started acting up. Our plan had been to go early and do a few errands at Menards, a big box home improvement store. The truck was making a sound I have never heard before. Kramer, my husband, was concerned so all plans of errands fell aside.
He pulled into a gas station, popped the hood, and started checking it out. He couldn’t see anything.
We checked the clock. Maybe shutting it off and starting it again would be a good idea…but what if it wasn’t and it didn’t start again. We were at a gas station so he shut it off. It started again and the noise was gone.
We checked the clock again. We still had time to get to Menards. We made a quicker-than-planned run and then we went checked out, hopped into the truck, and drove to the clinic for my appointment. On the way, the noise in the truck started up again. UGH.
We made the decision that I would go to my appointment, after all, I was just getting some stitches taken out, and he would go and see if there was a garage that would quickly look at the truck.
I went in. I checked in. I sat in the waiting room. I was called back. The nurse took my stitches out and I thought I was done and ready to go home. Nope, the surgeon wanted to see me. He was great. He chatted about how I felt if I was taking pain meds, and told me my weight restriction, which I had been so wanting to be lifted, was gone. I was happy.
Then he said my pathology report came back. Oh yah, I thought, pathology was going to look at my thyroid. Just then I was back hearing what he was saying. What?, I thought. He said cancer. Oh naive little me had more or less forgotten that cancer was even a possibility. I tried as hard as I could to shut my brain off and just listen to him. I found myself saying, “Could you write that down?”
He handed me a piece of paper that said, “Follicular Thyroid Cancer”. He told me I’d likely have to go through some testing, be on a diet for a few weeks and then take Radioactive Iodine. He assured me that my doctor’s people would get in contact with me and let me know the next plan. In all seriousness the part of the conversation telling me I had Follicular Thyroid Cancer and telling me the treatment took only about five minutes.
I was then sent on my merry way to find my husband and break the news to him. Who wants to tell your husband news like that? Immediately my mind went to the worst cancer patients you see. It went to me in bed. It went to me dead. It went everywhere …
but where I am today seven years down the road.
I did find my husband and the truck. The mechanic told him what was wrong with the truck and that we likely could make the 2-hour drive home and be okay.
He was wrong. We had to stop in a small town along the way. A different mechanic gave us a “band aide” for it and didn’t charge us anything after Kramer told him our story and that I was just diagnosed with cancer. What a wonderful guy. I’m sure the guy had not idea what it meant to us…but it was the first kindness set our way regarding my cancer.
I never dreamed that 7 years later I would still be here. I never dreamed doctors would still be trying to figure out how to get rid of my cancer. In so many ways I could be mad or angry about that day and my cancer and how it continues to linger but I’m really not.
I’ve come to point that I realize everyone has something…mine just happens to be cancer. I’ve also realized that even at 57 years old, I’ve lived longer than many. I have a great family. I can take care of myself. I can go places and do things and I have the energy to do it. I have hobbies and pets that I enjoy. I just have that one thing…cancer.
I am so proud of myself for not letting that one bad day…that one bad diagnosis rule my life.
You know those socks with the smiley faces that I showed in the first picture? I’ve only worn them once-the day the doc told me I had cancer. I’ve never worn them again. I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe in bad juju or anything like that. I’ve thought about throwing them away but that didn’t seem right either. The socks were in fact, a gift from my niece Jody who passed away from breast cancer three years after my diagnosis. Instead, those socks are in my sock drawer. Every morning when I open the drawer to get a pair of socks I see them and I am reminded I won’t let cancer be my life…I am living another day and I’m making the best of it. Everyone else doesn’t get that chance…seeing those socks and knowing Jody didn’t get another day makes me remember I need to go there and appreciate the gift of one more day that I was given.