Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Blessings of Cancer and On to Treatment

As many of you know, I had surgery on February 29th to remove the remainder of my thyroid  due to my thyroid cancer. I got to show off our newest Annie & Isabel "Elizabeth" designer hospital gown which was really fun and made me feel good at a time that was kind of scary. (Speaking of our new Elizabeth gown....if anyone wants to purchase one, please email us at wecare@annieandisabel.com.  We don't have them on our website yet but we are fully stocked with them!)

Pre-Op with my Husband

Pre-Op with Sister and Mom

The surgery itself went really well and the recovery in the hospital was surprisingly not too bad….or maybe that was the drugs:-)

Smiling fresh out of surgery..yes..I think it was drugs:-)

Really, though, the pain was much less this time around, and I was able to eat pretty normal food within a couple of days which was great. It also didn't hurt being surrounded by my beautiful boys!

I just got the pathology back for this surgery, and there was a very small amount of cancer on the left side of my thyroid too. I did not expect that, but it was so small that it won’t change the treatment plan.

So now I am without a thyroid and am also not on any replacement medications for my thyroid. This is because, in order to receive treatment, I need to be depleted of thyroid hormones and become very hypothyroid. About a week and a half ago, I started to feel the effects of this. I have become a lot more tired and am now requiring naps during the day. If you know me, I am not the napping type of gal, but I am totally welcoming them now. My legs ache constantly and I just have an overwhelming feeling of heaviness. Each day seems to be a little worse. I joked with a few of my friends that this is kind of like a weird science experiment.  Maybe my kids should have entered me in the Science Fair! My body has lost a very vital organ and now with each day I wait to see what new symptoms I’ll experience.

I am writing this post now because I’m not sure that I will have the energy to do this in the next weeks and I don’t think my brain will be functioning quite as well. They say you will get “brain fog” from being hypothyroid. I’m hoping to avoid that, but I am already finding that sometimes I have a hard time remembering things (although I think that problem might have started well before my cancer diagnosis, …but now I can blame it on this..ha!)

The whole point of me writing this post is that I could really feel sorry for myself right now, and I’m not saying that I don’t sometimes, or that I haven’t cried, but I am always trying to find the blessings and positive things in this whole experience. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the wonderful things that have come out of this. I share this with you because I hope that maybe you, too, can realize how precious our lives are and how important it is to sometimes step back, take some extra time,  and enjoy life. I know, before my diagnosis, I was so extremely busy with driving my kids around, working my job as a nurse, being a wife, and working on Annie & Isabel, that I hardly ever stopped to smell the flowers. I mentioned in my previous post about a friend telling me that “Cancer is not a gift but it brings many gifts with it”….well here are some of the latest gifts I have received from this diagnosis and I hope it helps you to also look for the blessings in your lives.

I have been given the gift of connecting individually with each of my children every morning. In this last week, I have not gotten out of bed before 9am. My husband has thankfully been home to run the house. Every morning, on their own, each of my children has come in to talk to me and snuggle. It is so sweet that they do this, and it shows me how much they care and love me. It is such a wonderful thing to connect with each of them in the morning and share some love before they start their days. It's also fun to start the day with a few laughs, and an ipad that distorts photos does just the trick.

Here is a cute picture of my boys just so you don't think I am raising aliens!!

I never found that extra time before because, frankly, it was hard enough just running around to get out the door on time. I have already grown closer to each of my precious boys and I can tell they have grown even closer to me. I will ALWAYS cherish this part of my experience and plan to make more time for this when I am well. You CAN'T turn back time but you CAN make the most of each minute you have now.

Another gift I have received is the gift of napping with my Daniel. In the past, I only loved naps for my children so that I could have ME time. Don’t get me wrong…that “me” time is important, but napping is such a short period in a child's life,  so why not join them every once in awhile? Daniel used to fight me on taking naps, but now it is something we both look forward to. He has the cutest little smile as we jump in bed together and snuggle up. I can tell how much he is absorbing all my love for him. One afternoon after our nap he told me, “taking naps together is actually kind of fun!” My heart was so full at that moment and I’m pretty sure his was too. I hope he will always remember this time as I know I will never forget it!

Getting Ready For Nap

Sweet Dreams

Another gift I have been given is to appreciate my health! I may never completely have the energy I had prior to my cancer diagnosis, but I will definitely value having a healthy body that allows me to get through everything I need to do in a day. I also want to mention that while cancer has temporarily taken my health and energy, it will never take away my spirit, and that is what is going to keep me going, to regain my strength and appreciate my health and life as I have never done before. I posted this picture on my personal facebook page a week ago but wanted to share it here too. For me, it is a visual of what I think about this whole cancer experience and I will proudly show off my scar because there is no reason to hide a badge of courage and strength.

Cancer May Scar My Skin But Not My Spirit

So the next phase for me is treatment. In 2-4 weeks I will have my whole body scanned to see if there is any spread of the cancer anywhere and then I will be given what is called a radioactive iodine treatment. The dose of the treatment depends on what the scan looks like and it is basically a pill that I will swallow. This isn’t any old pill though. Once I swallow this pill I become radioactive!! Doesn’t that sound super hero-ish? I think I will tell my kids that I will be turning into Superwoman!! The pill I will swallow is so radioactive that I will have to sit in the very back of the car to be driven home from my appointment. Also, if I were to go to the airport in the next few months or even up to the next year, there is a good chance I might set off alarms due to my radioactivity. Pretty cool huh….NOT!!

After I come home from this appointment, I will be isolated in a room by myself for one week because I cannot expose anyone to the radioactivity…especially my children. I’m not going to be feeling very good, so having to stay in a room for a week is probably not going to be such a big deal but emotionally it is going to be tough. When I am feeling down I plan to watch this.....God love my boys:

Thank goodness for technology because I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t see or talk to my family and friends. I plan to utilize face time/skype, facebook, twitter and the good ole telephone to stay in touch!! So…if you live in the area and see a bright light glowing at night…it’s probably me:-) I am on the road to being CANCER FREE!!


  1. Stephanie FredricksonMarch 13, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Shine on Anna! Your spirit is amazing and with each day you are that much closer to healthy and whole. Thank you for sharing your journey and for reminding me to enjoy the little things of my daily life (especially my boys!).

  2. You are so awesome and you are TOTALLY going to win this fight!

  3. I kept waiting to see if I could read by the light of myself..... but I kept falling asleep before I could find out. So that is still a mystery. I hope your time goes fast. It seems like it drags while you are going thru it but once I got done, it didn't seem like it had been that long. Blessings to you and your family! Robin H. ( a Facebook friend)

  4. What an amazing story from an amazing women. Thanks for taking all of us on this journey with you Ana.
    Even those of us who don't know you well, can feel the strength you have from all the love that is surrounding
    You. Your fighting spirit makes us all so proud of you. Barbara reilly

  5. Anna,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you! You are going to fight this and encourage so many people with your story. What an amazing person you are! Remember, you are never alone. God is with you and so are we!
    All our love,
    The Wer family

  6. Anna, you are truly an inspiration to all. Your upbeat positive attitude is amazing and I feel blessed to know you! Thank you and your family for sharing your journey to recovery......KICK CA BUTT!!! Your friend Rennie