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Showing posts from 2009

Letting go of 2009

Wow, how can that be, the last day of the decade? On Twitter today, there was this trending topic "#10yearsago" that really got me to thinking....Here was my tweet about that:

#10yearsago my kids were in preschool & elementary school. Now....teenagers! Oh yeah, and I didn't have cancer then either. That came along in 2008.
However, my life has evolved so much more than that in the last 10 years. Biggest events in my small world: Great decision to marry Chris in 2004, Pepa passed away in 2005, and thyroid cancer in 2008/2009. The girls have grown into amazing kids....plus, added Christian by marrying Chris. And so much more that I'm sure I will think immediately after posting this, "Dang! I forgot about __________!"
I'm really looking forward to this new year....a new beginning, a new decade. I've got some personal goals/resolutions to tackle that I'm actually pretty psyched about. Plus, I am thrilled to see the kids grow into adults....hmmm, t…

What is it about Christmas cards?

For some the holiday season begins when they put up the Christmas tree. For others, it might be the shopping the day after Thanksgiving. For me, it is when we receive our first Christmas card, which this year is today (thanks, Beneventis!).

Yes, we've been buying/shipping/receiving presents already, but something about the Christmas spirit and season for me starts with a Christmas card. Whoever sends me/us the card has chosen a card design that they like, added us to their list, and decided to use one of their increasingly valuable postage stamps to send the card. That means something in my book!
And something about getting the cards via "snail mail". Granted, I'll send an e-card from time to time, but I love getting the cards in the mail as how often do we really get letters or cards from anyone these days? If you are friends with someone on Facebook, you don't even have to remember someone's birthday AND can wish them a happy birthday online! Now, I'm not…

Whirlwind....

Where does the time go? November was a blur. I work at a veterans organization so the beginning of November was crazy in terms of my job...lots of great work to be done surrounding Veterans Day.

Just days after that, I took off for Austin, Texas, and the Convio Summit. Convio is a content management system used by non-profits (remember...I'm a website/social media geek?), and they have a conference (or summit as they call it) each year talking about product development, improved usage, etc. It was a good chunk of time for me to focus on professional growth and fresh ideas/approaches for the website/organization for which I work.

From Austin I flew to OKC to my parents' house for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was nice to have three days with my parents and just me. I looked at mom at one point and said, "This is the first time we've seen each other in 18 months that is not related to me having cancer!", which frankly was great! Chris and girls arrived on Sunday then …

Veterans Day: November 11, 2009

Today as I drove home from a Veterans Day program at a local elementary school, I noticed something great about Vienna: the streets are lined with flags for Veterans Day. It made me proud!

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. When you work for a veterans organization as I do, it's a big deal, frankly, as it should be for all of us! I work at a great place with a great mission so I'm going to share a bit of my work, which wasn't hardly work at all, from today.

I had the opportunity to attend a Veterans Day program today and talk with kids about it. They attend a school where they place alot of emphasis on Veterans Day education, and as I listened and participated in the program, I understood: the principal is a veteran herself, and the coordinating teach is a veteran of 27 years.

I've added a link below so you can check them out. There are individual videos as well so don't miss those...

Thanks for supporting our veterans!
http://www.pva.org/site/PageServer?pagename=support_Vetera…

I don't like Halloween, but I'm still cancer free!

Wow, you know it's been a while since I have blogged when my kids' friends start asking when I'm going to add a blog post. I love that! OK, you've inspired me to write, Ryan and David....

So....I don't like Halloween. I don't like to be scared, don't like haunted houses, don't like horror films, don't like blood dripping from stuff or zombies or any of that stuff. When the girls were little, they dressed up as cute things like lions or cowgirls or princesses, not zombies or witches or anything like that. And really, the massive amounts of candy....one can only eat so much before vomiting occurs.

That brings us to today, which I am tolerating...going to grin and bear it. The best thing about today is that at 8 PM, my Oklahoma State Cowboys are playing the Texas Longhorns in football on national TV. Hoping for a Cowboy victory in Stillwater today. At least there's that. :)

And now for the awkward segue into cancer....

I'm almost embarassed I didn&…

On my soapbox about "the best cancer to have"

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I was on my soapbox this morning after reading yet another article about the dreaded subject of how thyroid cancer is "the best cancer to have." Think about that...the best cancer? Why would someone say that?

In an attempt to make you feel better about having thyroid cancer, some health care profesionals try to convince those of us who have or have had thyroid cancer that it is "the best cancer to have" because it has a high survival rate.

An aside here, that high survival rate applies to papillary carcinoma, one of the three types of thyroid cancer out there. Survival rates are lower for medullary carcinoma and anaplastic carcinoma, the other two types of thyroid cancer.

Back on topic...OK, so tell us that papillary carcinoma has a high survival rate. Truly, that is good news. But because of this "best cancer to have" statement, and the fact that I was told my thyroidectomy would most likely be just an easy, overni…

Recurrence on the Metro

This morning while riding on the Orange Line of the Metro, I found myself thinking about my upcoming visit to the endocrinologist next week and subsequent ultrasound of my neck. Then I started jumping to conclusions.

Dr. Pun said at my upcoming October visit, he would give me an order to get an ultrasound of my neck/thyroid area. The last one I had was in April as part of the batter of tests/scans following my January 2009 surgery to remove more cancerous lymph nodes. All of my other ultrasound prior to the April one were performed by the same physician. However, the one in April was not for some reason, even after specifying I wanted to schedule this “regular” radiologist.

My conclusion as I dwelled on this: what if he missed something. He wasn’t familiar with my case. The other radiologist was.

So I should prepare myself for the worst with this ultrasound I will schedule in October. If there is something “suspicious” on ultrasound, I will have another fine needle aspiration (FNA) bi…

CureToday.com: With Humor and Openness

Hey, I was asked to write an article for CureToday.com!

Here's a link to the article>

Dirty Dancing with Charlie's Angels

While at the beach vacationing in North Carolina this summer, we heard the incredible news that Michael Jackson had died. It was shocking....and then this smaller, side story came to light the same day: Farrah Fawcett had died of anal cancer. To me, this was a big story as well, but we didn't hear as much about Farrah that day.

As a child in the 70s (yes, I'm actually that old), I remember my friends and I playing Charlie's Angels. Even after she was off of the show, I was mesmerized by her. I mean, after all, she married the Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors! And then later Ryan O'Neal, but that's a different story....
Even though she had a Lifetime movie here and there, her star was never brighter than in the 70s . However, when I heard she was battling cancer, that caught my attention. It was shortly before I found out that I had thyroid cancer when I became aware of her diagnosis and was surprised. I'm not sure why, but I was just surprised.
And then I watch…

Bring on Fall

Fall is my favorite season with the cooler weather, leaves turning, school starting, college football (hey, my OSU Cowboys beat Georgia to open the season Saturday 24-10!), soccer games on the weekend. I love it...ready to get it started, which I feel like it officially does no matter what the calendar says, on the day school starts. For us, that's tomorrow. Not sure the kids are ready, but I am!

The girls and I had a nice day on Friday afternoon thanks to my generous employer letting everyone off at 1 PM on Friday before Labor Day. We went to buy school supplies and along the way bought a few pair of shoes as well. That night, we attended the Madison football game. Three games of soccer (2 Saturday, 1 Sunday) with dinner on Saturday evening with good friends, and it was a great weekend.

But tomorrow, back to "business" for our family. One is off to her first day of middle school, the other her 3rd year of high school. The calendar is filled out with various activities inc…

Here It Comes Again....

Chris posted photos from our June North Carolina trip this week on our flickr page, and it takes me back to that incredibly relaxing time. We took the three kids plus Chewie plus Spencer (friend of the kids that quickly became a part of our family), rented a house in North Carolina and proceeding to generally do.....nothing.

For those of you who know our crazy lives and the lifestyle in the Washington DC area, "doing nothing" is truly a gift. We are often running from soccer practice to performances, etc. Add to that mix the past year doctors appointments, ultrasounds, scans, and it gets a bit overwhelming at times.
It was a great time at the beach...wouldn't trade it for the world. Wonder why we have never done it before, wondering when we will fit it in next summer, the summer before Christian and Mackenzie's senior year. But I will do everything in my power to get it done.
I am being sentimental about the beach trip because....it's coming. No, I'm not talkin…

The "wow it's August" update

Wow, is it August already? It's been a while since I've blogged. Kinda strange as I remember having ideas for blog posts, but I guess just didn't follow through.




Since I've blogged last...let's see....

Morgan came home from Oklahoma
Chris and I had our 5th anniversary (see photo...money tree gift from Chris!)
Morgan tried out for the Virginia Olympic Development Program (soccer). No news yet if she made the cut.
Chris and Christian spent a long weekend at the beach with Uncle Nick and Jay
Morgan left again...this time for church children's camp (last time)/Youth Up retreat (first time)
Chris and Christian found a used truck for Christian and bought it
I got sick Tuesday night gradually got worse. Finally went to the doctor on Friday. I have bronchitis and was dehydrated.
Kenzie left for West Virginia/Youth Up Retreat
Chris and Christian left at 4 AM today to drive the truck back to Indiana for Christian.
I am on day 5 of bronchitis. Literally in bed all day, trying to g…

Multiple choice: lazy, exhausted, or thyroid

Basking in the thrill of being cancer free for a whole six weeks now, I continue to be tired. I hate tired. It sounds like whining...it sounds weak. People give you blank looks when you say, "I'm tired." And yet, most days I could, and sometimes do, climb in my bed about 6 PM for a nap or at least some vegitating.

It all feels like a never-ending circle since last summer...major cancer surgery is sure to make you exhausted. Your body has to recover. It never really did as two weeks post-surgery, I'm on this amazingly horrible low-iodine diet in preparation for thyroid cancer treatment and taken off of all thyroid meds. Then treatment....then continued recovery and adjusting thyroid meds. A mere three months later, more cancer...more surgery...more tired.
But now, I am through with cancer (rockin' the positive attitude here), and the tiredness lingers. I mentioned this to my family doc on a routine visit lately, and she did some blood work (everyone wants my blood t…

Hey, It's My Cancerversary!

One year ago today, I went to Fairfax Radiology to have a thyroid biopsy. For some reason, my gut said "this is going to be bad news", and I asked Chris to go to the appointment with me.
As I'm getting ready for the procedure, I told the nurse I was nervous. She said that they saw 20-25 patients a day for the thyroid biopsies and typically only one per day was positive for cancer. I was the one on July 14, 2008.

I knew what to expect at the biopsy. I was told they would stick a needle in each of the three thyroid nodules that had found on ultrasound the week before. I read they gave you some local anesthetic before inserting the needle. However, that's not how they roll at Fairfax Radiology apparently. They noted, and it made sense, that if they numbed it up, it would be yet another needle in my neck when it would be over fairly quickly if they just went for it, which they did.
"Tilt your head back so that your neck is sticking out so we can see the nodules better…

Three months? Really?

I recently visited my endocrinologist, Dr. Pun, in six-week follow up. He basically said everything looked good after my terrific thyroglobulin results (best since I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last summer!), and he would see me in three months.

Really? Three months? I have been seen at least every six weeks, if not more often, by a doctor since all of this started last summer.

Don't get me wrong...I'm thrilled! Woohoo! Great news! However, it feels a little weird. For the last year, I've had more doctors appointments that possibly in my entire life. Family practice docs, surgeons, endocrinologist, radiologists...Been hospitalized three times, two times for surgery, once for radioactive treatment. With that said, it just feels a little weird for a doctor to say "see you in three months" after what I've been through.

As I get used to the cancer diagnosis, I guess I also get used to being a survivor as well. Happy to do so, but again, just another curve ball…

Back from the beach

We arrived back home last Saturday after a week at the beach, Carova, North Carolina, to be specific. I haven't spent a week at the beach since....the girls were 5 and 9 years old. Considering they are 12 and 16 now, it's been a while!

After a few challenges with transportation once we got there, it was a relaxing week. I should explain: our transportation challenges were rooted in the fact that our beach house was literally on the beach. OK, not so much on the beach (it was REAL close), but we had to drive on the beach for three miles to get to it.
I didn't know this until we got there, but I guess you are supposed to let out some air from your tires when you drive on the beach, even with 4-wheel drive. We did but let out too much air, which had two of our four tires shot, driving on rims on the beach. Chris and the boys spent practically one whole day getting these two tires replaced. $400 later, we were set.

It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable weeks I can ever r…

It's the last....

We've had lots of "lasts" lately in our family as Morgan is in her last week of elementary school.
A week ago she played her last soccer game on the smaller field. In the fall, she will play on the full-sized field, 11 girls on the field instead of eight, larger ball.
She had her last elementary band concert on Thursday.
Today is her last day of elementary school.Morgan is my youngest child. I'm feeling a little sad about all of these lasts. I've only cried a few times. :)
It's a little bit like when Mackenzie started high school, a bit of a "really?" moment.

I remember as a teenager people saying how fast time goes by. Now, I really know what they mean!

Kenzie is Participating in Relay 4 Life

You normally don't get solicitations for money when you read my blog. However, Kenzie is participating in Relay 4 Life in honor of my thyroid cancer battle. I've added a link to her Relay page below. Would you consider donating to help her reach her goal?

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY09SA?px=10977776&pg=personal&fr_id=12915&fl=en_US&et=u2DLHE8kLTZsUsAllUKipQ..&s_tafId=246051

Thanks!

And the results are in....

A short and sweet report: My thyroglobulin level went down as we needed it to. And I mean big time, down to the normal range....so very happy!

For the first time since all of this thyroid cancer business started last summer, this all-important blood test was normal, not elevated.

Many, many, many thanks to all for your prayers and support! Feels like a new day, a new chapter, all of those "new" metaphors you can think of.

I am grateful.

The Waiting Game

I had my blood drawn yesterday at Dr. Pun's office to check my thyroglobulin level. Getting pretty friendly with all phlebotomists at this point. Don't all cancer patients? I mean, our blood is drawn constantly...not to mention the poking and prodding. And shouldn't you be nice to the phlebotomists? They have the needles.

I digress...won't know any results until "early next week." Last time, it was either Monday afternoon or Tuesday, I don't remember. Regardless, the waiting for results kills me every time I have to do this. Luckily, there's a bunch going on this weekend to keep me busy and not thinking about it.
Remember from my last post, we need the level to go down more toward 0.5 instead of staying in the abnormal range of where it is currently. I mean we REALLY need that to happen.

Blogging is therapeutic...hey, I knew that!

Hey I found an article on the CancerCompass Weekly Newsletter that validates what I already knew...blogging is therapeutic to cancer patients/survivors. It certainly is for me!

My blog has really evolved since I started it back in August 2008. It began as a way for me to keep my family and friends updated on my cancer treatment progress in lieu of sending out mass emails. It also became a way for me to vent my frustrations, fears, and victories while still communicating that treatment/update information.
Then something great and unexpected happened along the way...other thyroid cancer patients (and frankly many kinds of cancer patients) found my blog. It has been great to connect with others who are having similar experiences and feelings. From radioactive iodine treatments to issues with endocrinologists, we have been able to connect on a variety of levels.
And sometimes my blog is about fun stuff, which works too. Even though cancer has become a slice of my life pie, there are lots of …

Creeping in again....

I'm really, really trying to not have worry and anxiety about my thyroid cancer, but sometimes it just creeps back in.

On Thursday, I have another set of blood work to be done. My endocrinologist is drawing another thyroglobulin level in follow up to my follow-up tests in April post-second cancer surgery.
A very loose definition of thyroglobulin levels for thyroid cancer patients: if it is higher than 0.5, there is a possibility that there could be more cancer to deal with, especially if you had positive lymph nodes, which I did. However, one reading above 0.5 is not enough to indicate recurrence. It is more of a trend to watch. If there is a consistent 2-3 (or obviously more) levels that are above 0.5, then there is probably a need for an ultrasound.
Last fall, I had three thyroglobulin levels in a row post-first surgery above 10. Ultrasound found more suspicious nodules. FNA confirmed it. Yet another surgery on my neck in January 2009 to remove more cancer.
My level in April was 3.…

Mimi's Mother's Day

Mother's Day is tomorrow, and I still often don't think of me as the mother on this day, just really think about my Mom (or as my girls call her now: Mimi).

Growing up, my mom was the cool mom, and my house was the place to be. My mom would feed you, teach you how to drive, play cards with you, and support you. And she did all of this for me as well...first and foremost.

I often thought it was a shame that I was her only child as she had so much love for all kids. High school friends often told me how lucky I was to have a mom like her. My extended family thought the same...at one point, she would have been a guardian for most (maybe all) of my cousins if anything had happened to my aunts and uncles!

Somewhere along the way, I realized that she was the one mom for me and me only. There's a poem that I can't find or remember that talks about the different stages of your opinion about your mom. Something about:

When you are in elementary school, she hung the moon.
As a teenag…

Blogger intimidation & lack of turtlenecks...oh, and swine flu

WARNING: This should probably be three posts. Unfortunately, I'm just not that creative these days.

My dear cousin has a wonderful blog, All Things in Moderation, as does a friend of mine, Soup is not a Finger Food. Both have interesting lives and are VERY funny, witty, and charming. Yes, All Things and Soup, I'm buttering you up...happy? :)

But me....my life has just not been that funny OR interesting lately. That's OK, just kinda new for me, what with all of the thyroid cancer fun of late! I think I'll take it. As a result, just nothing much to say lately except....

I have gone six straight days without wearing a scarf! I kid you not...the April 90-degree weather forced it upon me. Couldn't justify it. So my chapstick-looking sunscreen stick is my new best friend. I whip it out on the Metro, at the grocery store, on the soccer fields. My scar is my new badge of courage, and anyone can stare or comment. I don't care now! It's really been liberating.

Oh yeah...…

Letting go of turtlenecks

I find myself looking at the weather forecast more lately, hoping it stays cold. I like the winter, always have, but just today I realized that I have a different motive now.

I have spent the last winter wearing turtlenecks and scarves. I have always liked to wear turtlenecks and started wearing scarves last winter just because I like them.
I wore turtlenecks and scarves the past six months mainly to hide my five-inch scar at the base of my neck from thyroid cancer. Yet, at the same time, I said that I didn't mind my thyroid cancer scar. In fact, when I'm at home, I walk around sans scarf if I wore it at work or just out in general.
I truly have a love-hate relationship with that scar. Most of the time, I look at it and am proud, reminded that I did it, survived not one but two cancer surgeries in the past nine months. Other times, I hate looking at it every morning in the mirror as I take my thyroid meds.
A few times I have been in public with my scar uncovered and caught someo…

Soccer season!

Tired of talking about thyroid cancer....Good news: it's soccer season! I love to watch Morgan play. :)





And now for the results....

Dr. Pun's office called yesterday and said he wanted me to come to the office and discuss all of the test results from my thyroid cancer follow up in person since the information was so "detailed." As you can imagine, a thousand things ran through my head:
Detailed? What does that mean?I'm a new patient, only seen him once, so he probably just wants to go over everything. It's horrible news! Oh no...It's nothing...he wants to celebrate with me!At 8:15 AM this morning, Dr. Pun started the conversation this morning by saying we had a conundrum. He can't say I am cancer free, but there is not enough evidence to say I have a recurrence.

Thyroglobin blood test results were elevated, and that caused him some concern as this is the test that with thyroid cancer patients often indicates recurrence. However, whole body scan showed nothing (radioactivity based). PET scan (glucose based) showed some very small things/nodules on the left side of my neck (not necessaril…

Waiting....and waiting

All of the shots have been given, IVs run, PET scan done, whole body scan done, blood work drawn X 2...and now I'm waiting for the tests results. No news yet, staying busy with soccer and family and work and...I'm still waiting. When I know more, you'll know more.

I've got a good feeling things will come back how I want, no more thyroid cancer, but I still need the official confirmation!

A whiny update

As part of the preparation for my PET scan, I could not eat any carbs, sugar, or drink caffeinated drinks. That was yesterday...for 24 hours. Fun.

PET scan this morning: I arrived at 6:15 AM. After the usual paperwork, I was escorted to a quiet, small room where the technician first pricked my finger for a glucose test like diabetic patients must do. He then started an IV and pushed some sort of glucose mixture into it, then took the IV out of my arm. I told him that I have had bad experiences with IVs in the hospital, but he did a great job, barely felt it.

Next, he reclined the chair, gave me a pillow and blanket and said that I needed to stay still for an hour while the glucose traveled throughout my body. I promptly went to sleep.

After an hour, he woke me, and I went to the scanner next for another hour of lying completely still. I slept more, luckily.

And that's it....rather uneventful. Back home around 9:15. But exhausted...and hungry.

Hungry, because, you see, I had to take my …

Gettin' Checked Out This Week

This is the week...finally. The last round of tests to determine that I am cancer free.

It's a pain in the butt really....but necessary. I have to do something everyday this week in follow up. Here's the lineup (trying to work the baseball references in for you, Gary, any way that I can!), all happening in Alexandria:


Monday: TSH shot
Tuesday: TSH shot
Wednesday: PET scan at 6:30 AM. Here's a link to a great explanation about a PET scan. Lots of dietary restrictions on Tuesday in preparation...no carb, milk. Feels a little like the low-iodine diet I had to be on prior to radioactive treatment in September but, thankfully, only for one day. AT 12:30 this same day, I have to get my radioactive tracer dose.
Thursday: whole body scan
Friday: blood work draw

So...the fun begins tomorrow morning. I'll keep you posted, as always.

Britney!

I'm like the ringleader, I call the shots.
I'm like a firecracker, I make it hot.

---Britney Spears, Circus

OK, I am going to admit it here too since I've already admitted it on Twitter....I went to the Britney Spears concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, on Tuesday! I got tickets for Mackenzie for her 16th birthday back in December (since when do they sell tickets SO far in advance for concerts? I mean, you better have a long-range calendar to plan your attendance at these concerts...but I digress.)

I bought two tickets. At the time, I was unsure if I was going to give both to her or have us go together. In the end, I decided I would go with her, and I am happy that I did. It was a GREAT concert! From the music, the stage show, the opening act (Pussycat Dolls), I was really impressed...or was it that I just had not been to a concert in a million years? Hard to tell....

Most folks attending this concert fell into three categories:

Packs of teenage girls, most dressed …

Something other than cancer?

Eldest daughter asked this weekend if I could blog about something other than cancer. Why, yes, I can....happy to do so!

You may remember that I received roller skates for my birthday last month. Here's a few photos from our time on the bike trail this weekeknd below:


Smirk on both of our faces as she leaves me in the dust!



I don't care if Chris takes my photo or not, just am about to fall (but actually didn't...)!

The good news continues....

Geez, I've been MIA lately when it comes to blogging. Sorry about that...

The good news that continues is...my chest x-ray is clear! Since I've had thyroid cancer, you may ask "Why do you need a chest x-ray, Charlcie?" Well, I'll tell you...one of the two most common places thyroid cancer spreads to, if it is going to spread, is the bones and the chest. The clear chest x-ray proves that it has not spread to my chest. Great news!

More tests to come...PET scan and whole body scan. Still waiting for endo to schedule these. However, it should be the last week of March or first week of April. But definitely, so far, so good.

Happy weekend to all!

The Streak Has Ended

I had my fourth ultrasound since July 2008 relating to thyroid cancer today. The first three all came back positive for something "suspicious" that was followed up with a biopsy proving papillary carcinoma, the most common form of thyroid cancer, as well as surgery.

Today, I broke the streak and am happy that I did! The ultrasound did not show anything suspicious! No biopsy to schedule!

I still have some other follow up tests to do such as a whole body scan and PET scan in addition to results from a chest x-ray performed today. These are all to make sure that the cancer has not spread anywhere else. However, this is a REALLY GOOD result today. Really good....moving towards being a cancer survivor and not a patient anymore. :)

Many thanks to all of you who sent prayers and good thoughts my way.

The Mustang for Redheaded Girls

Well, we did it...and by we, I mean it took a village to pool our money and get this eight-year-old Mustang for Mackenzie. We went to look at it on Saturday, and out walked this Mustang's driver for the past seven years, a redheaded girl who was, get this, a cheerleader as well. It only had 48,000 miles on it...a big selling point. After 30 minutes of Chris checking it out and giving it a go around Arlington, we decided to get it for her.


Wasn't it just yesterday that she started kindergarten? Where does the time go?


No ultrasound yet...rescheduled for Wednesday

In my excitement with the snow on Monday, I left you hanging about my ultrasound scheduled on that day. A representative from that medical office called on Monday morning at 6:30 AM and cancelled due to the snow. So...I was rescheduled for Wednesday morning, March 11th, which also happens to be Morgan's birthday. I am also going to get my chest x-ray that day. I will definitely report back when I know more.

Big weekend around here...6th grade girls semi-finals tournament game at 11:30 AM. Morgan plays, Chris coaches. 3 PM is Charlotte's first birthday party! Charlotte is my cousin's precious daughter. 6 PM...the house fills with four additional 11/12 year old girls for a trip to Dave & Buster's and a slumber party!

Tomorrow - hopefully the 6th grade girls championship basketball game (have to win today). Regardless, Morgan plays in and Chris coaches the all-star basketball game at 4:30 PM tomorrow.

Whew! Then...basketball is over after this weekend. This is good as Mo…

Roller skates and snow in NOVA

A few photos from the past few days. I got what I wanted for my birthday...roller skates! Wanted skates for outdoors but hate rollerblades.


Also, a few photos from our backyard: Morgan and Chewie in the snow today!




It's Not a Leap Year...Hit the Road 40!

Today is my birthday...sort of. I was born on February 29th, which comes every four years. It's crazy when you think of the odds: one day every four years, and I was born on it! Then I've got this unusual name too (thanks, Mom!), which I really like now, didn't when I was little.

Anyway...Last year I had my 10th/40th birthday, and it was great! I had no issues with turning 40, embraced it, spent a great day with my husband and family.

Then the year started to unravel...
Christian decided to move back to Indiana to live with his mother, which nearly broke all of our heartsJuly 14th of 2008, I was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma (thyroid cancer)A week later, I found out that I had suspicious lymph nodes as well. Turned out four of 14 lymph nodes were positive for cancer on the right side of my neck. Two were as big as small plums!Surgery on July 31st was supposed to be an overnight. I ended up four days in the hospital with complications, a lovely five-inch scar on my neck, …

New Guinea and a Reason to Live

Check out this article that appeared in the Washington Post recently written by Ibby Caputo who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia when she was 26.

Thoughts of traveling to New Guinea just because she wanted to, children, and the future filled her mind as she made decisions about a stem cell transplant.

In the end, Ibby said:“Each day I lived, life would have to be my deliberate choice.

In a situation that feels utterly powerless, when your body betrays you and you need doctors, nurses, blood transfusions, IV nutrition, medicine and the mercy of insurance companies and God to keep you alive, this personal power gave me the will to try.”

It's a moving article. Take a few minutes to read it...and say a prayer for those dealing with cancer today.

Looking to break the streak

On Monday, March 2nd, I’m looking to get out of my groove, hoping to NOT go 4 for 4. Remember my 3 for 3 post from December 2008? Three ultrasounds since July 2008, all three showed something suspicious that turned up as cancer. Fourth ultrasound is Monday. I know spring training has started (Gary, we all know you are rooting for the Dodgers…), but this is one streak I’d like to break!

Every time I drive by the Fairfax Radiology office on Route 50 and Prosperity Drive, I cringe. We drive by there each Monday to take Mackenzie to her choral society practice. This is where those first three ultrasounds have been conducted as well as the two biopsies that confirmed the cancer. Hate the place yet glad for the technology there as well as the radiologist and pathologist who have been great and have found it each time.
For me, it’s a place of much anxiety and tears.
I’m also having a chest x-ray Monday. Thyroid cancer can spread to the chest so an x-ray is in order to check this out. The &quo…

Seen on the Metro

Since I started my new job in late January, I've been taking the Metro Orange line to work. I like it, better than sitting on the DC Beltway try to get to/from Bethesda or Alexandria (locations of former jobs). Plus, it seems to always be entertaining, sometimes good and sometimes bad.

What I've seen on the Metro lately...

A woman faint at my feet
People help this woman like I've never seen before in DC...gave up their seat, gave her space, water, someone fanned her & accompanied her off the Metro at her stop.
A man who looked EXACTLY like Albert Einstein
A woman with the most ridiculous white winter fur hat that I've ever seenWhat or who have you see on the Metro lately? If you don't live in DC, tell me something crazy you have seen in general lately. Let's smile at something silly, you know?

Outta Control on the Quotes

Yep, another ridiculous photo. You may ask yourself...why? See the sign? Morganics? Morgan, this one is for you. Love, Mom :) I'm on a roll with the quotes thanks to the Sierra Club's "Daily Ray of Hope" emails. Some may say, "Why, Charlcie, I didn't know you were a granola cruncher?" I'm really not yet have nothing against the granola cruncher crowd. As a website content person, just love their website and ran across this "Daily Ray of Hope" thing.

ANYWAY....here it is: Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.
-- R. I. Fitzhenry

Cancer has definitely been an uncertainly and a mystery to me. I have been scared unduly by it. I have definitely been interestingly both bored and not bored with it. It has sparked a level of creativity within me...really challenging me to branch out and take risks more. And be more relaxed...(family inserts a "really?!&…

I'm easily amused...and aggravated

What is this ridiculous photo? We were in Target this past weekend, and I was fascinated with the transportation system for the cart for the two-story building. I just had to take pictures with my cell phone.

Pretty awesome, huh?
For those of you unfamiliar, that's my husband Chris in the orange hat.
Moving on to the topic of this post....

I have not blogged in a week for various reasons. Blogger intimidation for one. I am waiting for that one, really good topic to come to me...then it doesn't come. Or I get distracted by something else.

Another reason: I'm not feeling so great about the cancer these days, and I don't want to be a downer. But then, this is reality with cancer so I do want to share it. I've had other thyroid cancer patients and survivors say this is helpful to share it all, the good and the bad. I also don't want people to worry about me...I'm fine, just struggling with the cancer survivorship.

I want to be one of those people like I follow on Fac…

Darwin and Bueller

Not only is today Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, it is also the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. There’s more interesting information about his life including and beyond the evolution theory today at one of my favorite Twitter follows www.twitter.com/capitalweather.

Separately, I received today my daily quote in my inbox from Charles Darwin. To clarify, the email was from the Sierra Club, the quote from Charles Darwin. :) It is:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

This is an interesting quote, isn’t it? OK, get out of your “Let’s debate evolution vs. creation” mind set. I’m thinking about life here.

I’m not big on change. Having thyroid cancer has been a big change for me. I overheard my husband talking on the phone this week with someone who had obviously asked how the doctor’s appointment with Dr. Pun went. He responded, “Look, having cancer isn’t like breaking your arm or having …

Dr. Pun Replaces The Doctor That I Don’t Like

I had my much anticipated appointment yesterday with the new endocrinologist. For those of you who are new here, an endocrinologist is the doctor who “quarterbacks” the treatment for thyroid cancer patients, much like an oncologist does for other types of cancer.

It went well! He listened! He gave details! After listening, he had a plan! He told bad punny jokes! All of this made me very happy. OK, maybe not the bad jokes, but at least it was entertaining.

I will have a series of follow up tests mid-March including a whole body scan, PET scan, ultrasound, and chest x-ray as well as the usual blood work. All of this is in an effort to make sure we stay on top of what is currently going on and any recurrence that might happen.

I feel like a load has been lifted from my shoulders. It is bad enough to have cancer…and then have more cancer…and then to not be able to trust or even like your doctor? That is the situation I have been in for the last six months. Not going to dwell on the past, ju…

Three generations

This photo was taken of me, Mackenzie, Morgan, and my Mom the day she was leaving to back to Oklahoma after my second thyroid cancer surgery in January 2009. I love it...had to share!

What does World Cancer Day mean to you?

World Cancer Day is today, February 4th. What does it mean to you?

Last year, I worked for a childhood cancer organization, and it was about increasing awareness for an amazing group of cancer patients and survivors. This year, it is more reflective for me as my journey with thyroid cancer began with my diagnosis in July 2008. It’s been a challenging and revealing time, learning about cancer and myself.

I’m reminded of those who continue the battle against cancer, those who are having chemo or radiation treatments even today. There are those who are having surgery to remove their cancer today. And even those who are walking into the doctor’s office today and hearing for the first time those words “you have cancer.”

My aunt is a two-time breast cancer survivor and has helped me on my own journey with cancer. She is an amazing woman, raising her grandson and working on her retirement home. I think of her and the other wonderful survivors that I know who are not feeling sorry for themselves…

Out of sight, out of mind and a new endo

I believe that I have thought about cancer every single day since I was diagnosed since July 2008. Cancer survivors, is that strange? Does it stop at some point? Right now, I can't imagine a day without at least thinking about cancer or or thinking about being a cancer survivor.

Some of that may have to do with the "out of sight, out of mind" theory. Every morning I wake up and look at that scar on my neck. It's a celebration of life and a cancer reminder all rolled into one. In some regards, it will never be out of sight so I wonder if it will be "out of mind" ever.

I've mentioned the shooting pains in my neck before and how the surgeon says this is a good thing. The nerves are coming back to life. Yesterday, I had shooting pain like no other I can remember, even dating back to next summer. It felt like a stab and then twist and then hold it for what felt like an hour but turned out to be about 10 seconds. It brought me to near tears as Kenzie and I were…

The big reveal and catching up....

Wow, has it been almost a week since I blogged? It's been a busy, hectic six days, but I'm makin' it...some days barely, but making it.

Let's see...oh, my post-op appointment on Friday. The "big reveal" went well. Dr. Sanders ripped (or at least it felt like he ripped....) my bandage off then he, his PA, and my mom gathered in a semi-circle about a foot from my neck and said things like, "wow, it looks good" and "it's healing nicely." I have to agree, it looks better than it did last summer...or does it?

I think the shock factor was gone this time around. I am now used to looking in the mirror and seeing the five-inch incision/scar so really, it just looked the same, just more pink and swollen. I have the semi-frequent stabbing pains throughout the day and night telling me that my nerves are slowly but surely coming back. Dr. Sanders says this is good. My neck is generally just sore, tender, and tingly, um, let's say all day every da…

Thyroid cancer – round 2, feeling “fine”

It’s been an interesting week of cancer recovery that has included inauguration of a new President and quitting my job. I feel better, but please don’t mistake that to think everything is “fine.” Well, it is as fine as it can be having cancer surgery twice in seven months. I’m alive, feel exhausted, my neck is very sore…OK, I’m fine.

This is when the emotional stuff came in last time, when I started feeling “fine.” Not so much the “why me?” but “what’s next?” As much as I try to take off my worry hat, it is firmly affixed to my head. I’ve had the recurrence now less than a year later. Will I have a recurrence to the recurrence next? When will the stabbing pains stop in my neck (It’s a good thing, it’s a good thing…)? When do I settle in with the "cancer survivor" title again? Am I question talker? Sorry, a Scrubs reference, but I digress...

My post-op appointment is tomorrow morning. I look forward to seeing what the surgeon has to say about my incision. He will uncover it for…

Yes, I'm blogging at 1:30 AM

I'm really up at 1:30 AM blogging. I can't sleep either because of the stabbing pain on the right side of my neck four days post-op of my second thyroid cancer surgery or because my mind is racing because of all of the things I'm thinking about such as (in no particular order):
why do I have this stabbing pain in my neck tonight?why do I have to go through this cancer business not once but twice now?why can't I go to sleep?why didn't we see on ultrasound the other two lymph nodes that were positive for cancer that were found by my surgeon (we saw one but not three)? Are there more?am I going to have to do this again?why am I complaining about my cancer when there are others out there struggling more with their cancer?when should I jump ship from "the doctor that I don't like?"OK, that's all of the questions (and whining) I have for now. Discuss amongst yourselves. Feel free to comment as you would like.

I'm off to go watch some bad TV and hope t…

I'm home

Just a quick report....I'm back home from the hospital. Surgery went well. Surgeon was able to find what he was looking for, which turned out to be a cancerous lymph node sitting in the thyroid bed. Plus, he took two other lymph nodes that were also positive for cancer.

The surgeon had to use the full five inches of my scar, but he got it....the cancer, that is. I'm not as foggy from the anesthesia as I was with the first surgery back in July 2008 but still feel a bit like a truck hit me, just maybe a smaller truck this time. I'm really sore where the incision is but overall am doing OK.

Thanks to everyone for your good thoughts and prayers. More later....