Let me back up a little though, to the day of treatment, March 23rd to be exact. I was not prepared for just how difficult that day would be. I guess it would be normal to be very emotional on a day like this, but I just had not thought it through. It started when each of my children, in turn, gave me a hug and kiss when they went off to school and said "Good bye mommy".
The second that they left my bedroom, I completely lost it!! I cried like a baby. Part of my emotions came from the fact that I would be away from my children for awhile. I treasure their hugs, kisses and snuggles so much and knew it would be hard to be without them for a few days. I believe that the bigger part of these emotions came from the realization of how long and hard this process has been for me and my family, and that I was FINALLY ready to begin the final step that would kill this cancer and allow me to move on to a healthy new future.
Thyroid cancer has provided me with an exercise in patience. I think it would have been easier if there had been no waiting, and if I could have just had surgery, moved right into treatment, and had been able to get it done and over. That is not how thyroid cancer works, especially when you end up with two surgeries, as I did. There were weeks of waiting in between each step of the process and that took a toll both mentally and physically. I have always been pretty mentally tough and competitive by nature, so during all this time, I held it together pretty well. Sure, I had little moments of crying and feeling sorry for myself, but on March 23rd, the reservoir of emotions all came tumbling out. It was a good cry, and it was needed. I realize now, how important it was to let my emotions out, as it helped release everything that had built up inside of me over the last couple of months, and also validated what a tough journey this has been.
The first step on treatment day was a full body scan.
The scan was a little unnerving because I would finally find out if the cancer had spread anywhere beyond my thyroid gland.
My particular cancer, follicular carcinoma, has a tendency to spread to lymph nodes, lungs and bones. Had my cancer spread? I had anxiously waited two months to hear the answer to that question. In the afternoon, when I went back for the actual treatment, I received the wonderful news that the only place where they could see any residual thyroid tissue was in my neck, which was expected. There was no evidence of spread. Now, the job of the Radio Active Iodine Treatment, which followed, would be to seek out and destroy all the remaining thyroid cells.
The treatment itself was simple. A Nuclear Medicine doctor brought in a special lead cylinder which contained a small radioactive capsule, tiny but powerful.
The doctor placed the pill in my mouth, gave me a few last minute instructions and soon I was out the door........I was officially radioactive!
My husband was instructed to stay as far away as he could. How far away can you get in an elevator? On the quicker than usual ride home, I sat in the farthest back seat, on the opposite side from Joe. He drove me to my parents home because I needed to keep my radioactive body away from my small children who would not understand the strict isolation.
I needed my own room, my own bed, my own bathroom and so I returned to my childhood bedroom.
Most of the radioactivity passes out of the body though body fluids in the first three days. I was required to drink lots of water to speed up this process and this meant frequent trips to the bathroom where I had to flush the toilet twice after each use.
The isolation itself, was not so bad because I soon became pretty nauseated, and that, combined with being achy and tired, made it easy to want to be by myself in a quiet room. During the good moments, I enjoyed having "facetime" with my boys and receiving "virtual" hugs and kisses.
Starting on the fourth day of isolation, I began to take short walks with my loves, with them walking a few feet behind me. I won't take a nice walk for granted anymore.
On that same day, I took my first dose of thyroid medication. I have never been so happy to take any drug before. This little pill will be responsible for making me feel a whole lot better in three to four weeks.
I have found another unexpected blessing in all of this. I have been fortunate enough to spend this isolation time with my parents and it has been such a treat to be their little girl again in my childhood home. The only thing missing in my room, is a rope down the middle with my dear sister on the other side, a favorite memory of when we shared this room and had territorial wars:) I have had many long talks with my mom as she stood the required distance away in the doorway and she has taken care of me as any loving mother would. With modern technology, I have even had special texting sessions with my dad, while in the same house, from our own bedrooms, like the ones that follows:
Still finding things to cherish....here's to unexpected blessings!