Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The "C" word

fgf (54)

Looking back now, my golden retriever knew that I had cancer months before I discovered the lump on my throat.  She hasn't left my side.  Before today, I thought that she was being extra clingy because I am pregnant but she wasn't like this during my first pregnancy.  I should've known something was wrong.

I look for signs of reassurance when I'm feeling desperate, for anything to jump out at me and pull me back into my safe place.  On the way to the doctor's office today Joni Mitchell's Chelsea Morning played in the background as Sean talked about his hectic day at work.  I thought, this must be a good sign, I love this song.  But I knew better.  Why would the doctor ask me to come into the office instead of simply telling me my biopsy results over the phone unless the news was bad?  He wouldn't.  I was driving us to an appointment that would change our lives and I knew it.

As soon as my endocrinologist said, "You have papillary thyroid cancer." the rest of his words slurred and I found myself watching his eyes as he talked.  I didn't care what else he had to say, Sean would listen for me and soak it all in.  I simply stared at him and willed him to stop talking.  I asked three times, "What kind of cancer?  Pap..?"  This doesn't seem real.

But the survival rate is high, right?  I asked.  He answered with an unsure, "Usually."

Usually?  What does that mean?  Why isn't he telling me that I will be just fine?  I need to hear him say it:  You. Will. Be. Fine.  He mentions the baby and how we need to take out my entire thyroid immediately since I am at the midway point of my pregnancy and it will be safest for the baby.  I will endure radioiodine treatment after the baby is born.  I will not be able to breastfeed for long.

As we ran to the car after the appointment, the sky poured--absolutely poured--on us.  That's fitting.

Sean and I have been joking around.  We took a picture of us with our thumbs up for a momento of how we looked after I was diagnosed with cancer.  We went to Subway on our way home from the appointment and Sean said that I could order whatever I want since I have cancer.  We even named my tumor Britney (a bad joke about that pair of conjoined twins on TV) and Sean started discussing what we should dress the lump up as for Halloween.

I called my parents and siblings and sent texts to family members.  But by this point--an hour after diagnosis--I was at peace with it all and they were mostly in shock.  The word cancer is a pretty hard blow.  But this cancer is a good one to have, I guess, the survival rate is high and I plan on living for a long time.