There are just so many people battling so many things. This series is designed to introduce you to moms that have their own serious health issues to deal with, all while being involved, present, lovely moms. I thought I’d kick-start the series with my own story.
Please describe your medical condition
I have thyroid cancer that has metastasized into some lymph nodes. These are due to be chopped out (it really is quite barbarically termed a radical neck dissection) in 3 weeks, which will hopefully leave me cancer-free and only hypothyroidic. My cancer was diagnosed in April 2014, when my thyroid was removed completely. It’s been hospital visits, radiation, scans, sonars, blood tests, state hospitals, and a lot of meds since then. This is a very treatable, slow-growing cancer. My annoyance with it is that it seems to be overly attached to me.
How does it affect your everyday life as a mom?
At this stage, it isn’t making much difference. I avoid all sugar and almost all carbs, so I guess the morning hot chocolates and summer ice-creams with Kates are out of the window. Otherwise, I’m a bit tired, and my throat is feeling quite cramped. You’d think that would force me to cut down on eating. Nope. I just swallow harder. Once I have the op, I have to go off my hormone treatment for a while before the radiation. That’s going to be a tricky time of feeling really tired, puffy, dry and emotional. Then, I think Katie may need to start her own blog about living with ME!
How have you described / explained it to your kid(s)?
I haven’t yet. Any suggestions? She knows I “had” cancer, I just haven’t broached its reappearance.
What are some of the stigmas attached to your illness? How accurate are these?
When they hear I have cancer, so many people have told me that their aunt / mother / pet penguin “ALSO” died of cancer. I’m not dead. And I’m planning to stay not dead. Not everyone that suffers from ANY form of cancer dies. Some of us are still quite enjoying being very much alive. I love my life. Thyroid cancer is just an inconvenient, unwelcome addition to my full, fun and exciting life.
Another assumption is that I’m definitely going to lose my hair, regardless of the treatment or extent of the cancer. Losing your hair is a side effect of certain chemotherapy drugs (not even all the chemo’s cause it). I’m not getting chemo, I’m having radioactive iodine treatment. My hair, while nothing to write home about, is a permanent fixture at this stage.
What things have people said to you about your illness?
See above for the dying comment. Also, people generally assume that all cancer patients are emaciated and pale. So, I get a LOT of comments about not looking like someone with cancer. I apologise. I promise to try harder in future. Trust me, if I could look emaciated, I would!
What are you good at that your illness can’t affect?
I can cook, crochet, cycle, write, work, love, dance, sing (so badly) and sink a G&T like a pro.
What helps you to cope?
I’ve known so many people that have been through so much worse. And, they come out the other end stronger and more compassionate. I know that this is what’s important – learn the lesson and maintain perspective.
Also, I eat fairly healthily and try not to stagnate physically.
What do you wish others knew about your illness?
It’s not the end of the world. Those suffering with illness aren’t dead, and they would actually like to put their malady on a shelf sometimes, pretend it never made their acquaintance and just enjoy normal conversation, everyday living, time with friends and family. You know…almost like normal people…
I’m looking forward to introducing you to a few more sicklings in the weeks to come. This isn’t to minimise anyone’s suffering. We’re all just encouraging one another to keep living while we’re alive.
And, when you’re feeling low: