Friday, September 18, 2009


September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. I was planning on giving you all kinds of statistics that show how the incidence of thyroid cancer is on the rise and kills thousands of people every year. But, I decided that numbers don't necessarily increase awareness. So, I'm just going to tell my story instead.

On October 8, 2008, I wake up with an ache in my neck. I feel a huge lump at the base of my neck. I immediately call my mom and she makes an appointment for the next morning with my GP. After that appointment I go to have an ultrasound. Later that day, I get a call from the doctor's office with the results of my ultrasound--three nodules on my thyroid. I am referred to an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist schedules me to have a biopsy with another doctor in his office. I lay on a patient bed with my feet higher than my head in a tiny room that is so hot I am ready to strip off my clothes. The nurse cleans my neck. The doctor comes in. I am nervous. He pours a local anesthetic onto my neck. It feels weird, cold. It doesn't work very well. Maybe the doctor knew it wouldn't and is just trying to trick my brain. He sticks a needle into my neck seven times. It hurts. Bad. It feels like he is trying to push my thyroid through my spine and out the back of my neck. A few days later, I receive a call from the doctor's office. I have to come in to get the results. I know it's bad. I call my mom and break down. When I hang up with her, I move to the couch and sit there and sob for a long time. The next day, the doctor tells me what I already know. Thyroid cancer. I have another ultrasound to check the lymph nodes in my neck. On November 5, I have my entire thyroid removed as well as the lymph nodes in the central part of my neck. The cancer has spread to most of those nodes. After surgery, I have radioactive iodine to kill off any remaining thyroid tissue in my body. With no thyroid, I begin depending on a couple little pills to live. My life is forever changed.

So check your neck. Know what your neck feels like so you will know if something is different. Next time you are at the doctor, ask him or her to check your neck. Be aware.

photo from

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

a word about hope

It's been awhile since my last post (Sorry, Cteve). I decided to take a little break to focus on myself (wow, that doesn't sound selfish). But, now I am back!

I read a good bit of cancer information--stories, research, etc. I am in the process of reading a book that has captured stories of various cancer patients. One of these people stated that trying to hope while fighting cancer became too exhausting, and so hope was abandoned.

Hope. Exhausted. Abandoned.

This absolutely broke my heart. Hope is not supposed to be exhausting. Hope is supposed to be comforting. If you are exhausted by hope, you are hoping in the wrong thing. Hope in Jesus is satisfying. I'm not trying to preach here, I just want you to know that if you are tired of hoping in something that leaves you unfulfilled, you can find something new and refreshing in Jesus. I'm telling you because I know. It's been almost a year since I found out I have cancer. This year has been one of the hardest in my life. But I have hope. And my hope has kept me going, not tired me out. That so many people go through life with a hope that leaves them exhausted is heartbreaking. Know that it does not have to be that way for you.