It’s been a whirlwind since the start of 2017.
2016 was promising. New life. New place. New friends. New job.
But 2017 took me by surprise.
It all started when a colleague noticed a lump in my neck while giving her a report. At first I was like, what? I was trying to feel my neck but I couldn’t feel any lump. Then she guided my hands to the lump and there it was.
I went to the restroom to check my neck on the mirror. It wasn’t that obvious. But I admit I was kind of bothered. What if it grew? It would look ugly, like I have a goiter or something. So I showed it to my close friend in ER. And she called one of our doctors to take a look at it. So he examined me and said I should try to monitor it. It might be nothing. So I just shrugged it off thinking, hey, maybe it would go away.
I also told this casually to my former preceptor and she was all like, “hey, get it checked. You know Pat? She had the exact same thing. Then for all you know, it turned out to be cancer and she had it removed. If I were you I would go see a doctor right away.”
But the thing here in the US, you can’t just walk in to a clinic to see a doctor. You have to establish a Primary Care Provider before you are seen. I asked one of our Physician Assistant to refer me a PCP. I called the office and I was scheduled for an appointment after 2 months. So the PA referred me to an ENT specialist and I was scheduled to be seen right away.
I went just to put my mind at ease. I know it was nothing. The doctor did an ultrasound and told me that the lump on my left thyroid is bigger than normal. He suggested doing a biopsy to see whether it’s cancerous or not. He made an appointment and I left.
I was afraid of the procedure. It means they would put a long needle on my neck to get some samples. I was so afraid that I cancelled the appointment. I thought to myself this would go away.
But then the PA and my other colleagues urged me to do it. Just so I can have a peace of mind.
So I called the clinic and rescheduled. The procedure was uncomfortable but it wasn’t that bad. The doctor told me he’d call me for the result after 1 week.
I was at work when the doctor called. He started saying that it was cancer. Then he started telling me the next steps and that someone will call me to arrangefor the schedule of my surgery. They had to remove my whole thyroid.
I was trying to absorb what the doctor just said. The word cancer sounds like a farfetched idea. It seems like he’s talking about another person not me. It feels like I’m watching everything in slow motion. I have to tell J. I went to the breakroom and saw my close friend. So I dragged her inside and told her what the doctor told me. I just found myself crying and hysterical. She called our Charge Nurse so I can go home. I couldn’t talk. I just cried uncontrollably. They tried to pacify me and some of them are also crying with me. The Charge Nurse let me go home. So I called J.
I didn’t tell J right away. When I told him he was quiet. He just let me cry. When we reached home, he hugged me tight. I just cried and cried. When I felt better, I decided to tell my family about it. My Mom wants to come here immediately. I told her I’ll be fine.
Before I went home, my Charge Nurse let me talk to Pat, the Nurse who had the same fate as me. She told me everything there is to know about thyroid cancer. She said it’s the most treatable cancer so I don’t have to worry about it.
I just needed some time to absorb the news. I called my agency and they arranged for my short term disability and sick leave. J and I spent the rest of the day at home, with me sulking in bed. The next day, I avoided everybody who is calling. Some friends dropped by the apartment but I told J to tell them I don’t feel like talking or seeing anybody right now.
On my 3rd day, I asked J if we can spend time at the lake. It was freezing outside. We took our thick jackets, brought some food and went to the lake. It was beautiful and peaceful. We fed the ducks and just sat there admiring the view. We went home and I was feeling much, much better.
The date of the surgery came. It all felt like a movie scene. My colleagues were very supportive of me. The sent me flowers and cards. My friends were there to pay me a visit, gave me flowers and stuffed toy and some food. Everyone was really wonderful.
I had 9 days to stay at home and rest. After that I went back to work like nothing happened. My colleagues were really nice and helpful. I find the first few weeks at work exhausting. But I think my body finally adjusted to the Synthroid I’m taking every morning before breakfast.
I’m doing okay so to speak. I have learned to appreciate life and the people around me more. I am truly blessed for everything despite of.
Who would’ve thought I’d be able to survive this? I’m amazed myself. I feel like I’m stronger than before. After all, I am a survivor.