My word for the New Year is Thankfulness.

So much can happen in a two week period. Following a general check up of a nodule in my thyroid recently led me to a biopsy. IN all honestly I was not one slightly bit concerned. It had grown and standard procedure is to have a biopsy when in one year it went from 9mm to 12mm in size. I waited a week almost forgetting that I had the biopsy. At work one morning I noticed a missed call from the GP Reception asking to call back as the Dr wanted to see me the following day or at least by the end of that week to discuss the results. I rang back hesitantly reminding the receptionist that I had an appointment already booked with the Dr for the following week. I was told quite firmly that the Dr had requested to see me sooner. Slightly panicked I arranged an appointment for the end of the week as to consider going in the next morning seemed all to much in that moment. About an hour later I was unable to concentrate at work, I was suddenly frozen in fear as my mind went off racing down the track of our mum’s cancer journey. We had about a month earlier passed the one year mile stone of her passing. She left us too soon having gone through the unthinkable for about 8 months of treatments for a very aggressive blood cancer Lymphoma. Here in Australia when we have a procedure such as an ultrasound or biopsy we can go online with the company that performed it and check the results. You guessed it, I couldn’t wait till the end of the week so I decided to go online into the portal and have a look at the results. The word Carcinoma caught my attention immediately and I went into a meltdown. My manager at work encouraged me to ring the Dr reception back and ask to be seen in the morning rather then the end of the week. I reluctantly called and changed the appointment. My husband changed his work schedule so that he could be with me.

That following morning I found myself sitting with my GP and my husband in a state of numbness hearing the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. The GP reassured me that if you are going to get cancer this is the best one to get as it is treatable with surgery. It has a high success rate at 98%. From numbness I went into internal panic again and an overwhelming sense of shock. AT that time no reassurance was helping me, the word Cancer shock me to my core as that is what led to my mum to leaving us so soon. I found myself connecting back to my mum’s journey, thinking about how she would have felt on that terrible day she received her diagnosis being told she only had 3 months to live without treatment. My GP got on the phone straight away to organise an appointment with a specialist. There were two choices of specialists and the best surgeon in thyroid cancer called the following morning with an appointment for the end of the week. At the specialist appointment surgery was the main focus of conversation and a discussion about the treatments available should the cancer have spread to my lymph nodes in my neck. The surgeon confirmed that a full thyroid gland removal would take place with some lymph nodes taken out as well to be biopsied for further analysis to determine if an iodine treatment would be required following surgery to kill off any other unwanted cancer cells. IN that initial consult I was advised that there was an opportunity to have the surgery on the 22nd December rather then wait until 12th January 2023. I asked them to give me the weekend to consider that option as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with Christmas so close. I was panicked. Overwhelmed with so many worries and concerns. Bad enough to hear the word Cancer to then be confronted with the idea of surgery on my neck. After having gone through all the trauma with my mum the process of everything unfolding gripped me with such fear at each step. Its crazy how our brains revert back to trauma.

Saturday morning I decided I would go with the earlier date of next week for surgery, how could I possibly last till about the middle of January in this state of mental attack. First thing Monday the surgeon was contacted and my husband booked me in for the 22nd December. I rearranged my work so that I could work from home until the Wednesday being the day before surgery. Work was a great distraction for those 3 days. Sleep was impossible so I was wrecked by the time I went in for surgery. Walking into the hospital I was calmer then when at home. It took some time waiting until they were ready to perform the surgery that day. Then all of a sudden a wards men came into the room to take me in and the nerves hit me again, waves of anxiety, fear and dread. I was shaking from head to toe. The anaesthetist came in to see me and then decided that it would be worthwhile to give me some anti anxiety medication to ease me into the operation. That definitely helped as I recall being wheeled into a massive operating theatre telling all of the staff I would buy them a Christmas Present while thanking them for what they were about to do in getting me better. Off I went into a land of nothingness while the surgeon performed the operation of taking out my whole thyroid gland.

I awoke in a panic at first thinking there had been complications (drug brain) and was then told it all went really well and that surgery was over. It took me hours to become coherent from all of the drugs. Eventually I was in ICU recovering. I couldn’t believe I survived the ordeal as it was such a mountain in my mind to go through surgery. Surgery to me was as fearful as someone telling me I had to bungy jump backwards from a high bridge or sky dive out of a plane. All of which don’t appeal to me even the slightest. I was in hospital that first night and the Dr agreed the following day that I could go home that night seeing as I was doing so well which was the 23rd December. Our Christmas was on the 24th December so that was perfect. It was amazing to be home in my own bed however I can’t say that I felt wonderful. I was feeling quite unwell, exhausted to say the least and on the day of our Christmas doubted that I could even go to my sisters and celebrate. I was in bed all day trying to get my energy levels up. In preparation for Christmas I asked my husband to go into the spare room and find some empty Christmas Cards that I could write on and as I was looking through the cards suddenly a Christmas Card from my mum was in the pile. It was her very last Christmas Card to myself, husband and children. Christmas 2020. I sat there overwhelmed with tears as it felt as though the card had made its way to me from my mum to say Merry Christmas regardless of when it was dated. The fact that it made its way to me was in my mind a miracle. Surprisingly after resting all day I felt well enough to celebrate Christmas with my family even though I wasn’t my best self. My husband and I celebrated New Years Eve very simply at home as my energy levels were not great.

It’s ever so easy to go into all sorts of places mentally/emotionally when situations take us by surprise. My follow up with the specialist is this Friday and I will find out if I need any further treatment, secretly hoping the surgery was enough of course. While this experience in the past few weeks has been one of the toughest for me personally I have decided to be THANKFUL that the Cancer was found and removed. Rather then focus on the fact that my holiday wasn’t what I had hoped it was going to be this year it has all worked out and the timing couldn’t be better for recovery before I return back to work on the 9th January.

What I have learnt personally this year is:

  • Don’t put off medical appointments and keep up with check ups.
  • I do have the strength to go through really challenging situations and they don’t need to turn out terrible.
  • Stay calm and remain thankful.
  • I have a new appreciation for people that go through far worse health situations.
  • It’s ok to be scared and fearful, they are just emotions we feel but they won’t dictate the outcomes.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023 !!!!!

Prior to Surgery waiting patiently…….
The day after surgery 23rd December 2022

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