Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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," he said. A radiologist was in the room "running" the needle while a pathologist was observing, making sure the specimen taken was adequate.

It really was not a big deal having a needle stuck in your neck without anesthesia three times, at least compared to what I was about to face. Remember, the needle has to be big enough to get an adequate amount to look at....times three as I had three nodules.

Once the specimens were out, the pathologist took the samples to look at them. The nurse brought Chris back to the room, and we waited.

They wouldn't let him go back with me during the procedure, but he was there when I received the results. The minute the radiologist came back in the room, my gut feeling was confirmed. I knew before he said a word. "You have papillary carcinoma - thyroid cancer."

I think back to that day and how everything changed and not all for bad. Two surgeries, one hospitalization for radioactive treatment, numerous ultrasounds, two needle biopsies (recurrence in Jan 2009) and what seems like a million blood draws later, I've learned alot about myself, family, and friends. I have "met" folks on the Internet who have had thyroid cancer and other cancers. I consider these folks my friends and am amazed at their strength and courage. I started blogging about a month after my first surgery...and discovered a whole new world. I learned that if you don't take charge of your own healthcare, no one else will. I changed jobs, moving from a cancer organization to a veterans non-profit, 10 days after my second surgery...one of the best decisions I have made in recent memory!

So my Cancerversary - the day I was diagnosed - is not some sad, gloomy day. Yes, cancer does stink, but I'm doing fine (still tired - thanks thyroidless body! - but fine). I'm glad to be alive and learning to love the five-inch scar on my neck and what it represents.

So...Happy Cancerversary to me! See, and you thought it was just Bastille Day....


  1. Woohoo! So glad it's a good day of celebrating. You are certainly worth the party.

  2. You're my hero, Charlcie.

  3. Yet another reason to hate the French. Way to persevere cousin! Love you!

  4. Happy Cancerversary, Charlcie! I'm thrilled.


  5. I love you....mom

  6. Charlcie you are a star! Happy Cancerversary! Love you, Deb

  7. Thank you for sharing your cancerversary with me over fish and chips. You are the cowgirl with true grit. Richard

  8. You are such an inspiration. I miss seeing you! Happy cancerversary! Natalie

  9. A bit belated but I feel bad not getting on the band wagon ..

    Happy Cancerversary sweets!

    "Keep on keeping on"
    - Joe Dirt