You NEVER think it’s going to happen to you.
You may hear the statistics.
According to the American Cancer Society, 38% of people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. (Not me, though…I’m healthy!!)
This is the face of cancer, my friends.
In January, I received a FB message from a girl (that I wasn’t even FB friends with) that went something like this, “Hi Shelly. I know we don’t know each other, but we have a mutual friend. I am a nurse and I was watching one of your FB live videos and noticed a lump in your neck. I was wondering if you’ve ever had your thyroid checked.”
To make a long story short, over the course of the year, I ended up having an exam, ultrasound, then a biopsy. On May 25 (which coincidentally happens to be World Thyroid Day) I received the official diagnosis: papillary thyroid cancer.
I had a nice little pity party for a good week and couldn’t even look at my babies without crying.
So many thoughts and emotions.
Why me? (I have my theories on that which I’ll talk about soon)
Why thyroid and not breast or lung or colon?
What could I have done differently?
How does one get thyroid cancer?
Was I going to die and leave my kids to grow up without their mom?
I dove head first into everything I could get my hands on to learn all I could about it.
Turns out 50% of women will develop a thyroid nodule at some point in their life.
Only 5-10% of those will be cancerous.
Thyroid cancer is considered by many to be the ‘best’ cancer you can get. (Uh…don’t know how that is supposed to make anyone feel better).
There are 4 types of thyroid cancer, with papillary being the least aggressive and slowest growing.
So basically, I got the best of the best. 😍(Silver lining)
I went in for surgery last Friday and had a total thyroidectomy (thyroid completely removed).
I was pretty much in bed through Tuesday before I finally got up to venture downstairs. Yesterday I even showered! 👊🏼
My voice isn’t back to 100%. I can’t yell at the kids like I’d like. 😛 My energy is slowly returning. My neck and throat are sore.
Today was my post op appointment where pathology confirmed margins are clear (meaning it didn’t spread). 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
Next step is to meet with my endocrinologist to determine whether or not I’ll need a radioactive iodine treatment which will necessitate being quarantined for a week. 😬
I am now considered hypothyroid and will need to be on a daily synthetic thyroid pill for the rest of my life.
My scar will heal eventually.
I’ve never prayed harder or felt closer to God than I have in the past few months. I came to a place of calm, trusting in Him through all of this. Even to potentially accept a worse fate if that was His will.
Allowing my body to be the vessel for His message to come through.
This Bible verse came to me one day during my devotional very early in this journey:
‘Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.’ ~ 1 Chronicles 20
I can’t tell you the serenity and courage that comes from giving it all to Him.
The absolute hardest part of all of this has been telling my kids. How in the heck do you do that? Especially with all we’re going through in our lives right now. It’s all just too much and my goal has been to protect them from any pain or heartache as best I could.
I felt very strong in my prognosis and was able to sit down and talk with them from a place of confidence and strength.
Only today did I finally say the ‘C’ word to them; once I knew it was out of my body and could tell them they had nothing to worry about and that I was going to live forever. 😜
I will never be able to thank the angel, Karen who was sent to me in that Facebook message.
Tonight was the first night I finally had the courage to reach out to her to tell her the story.
My tribe, my sisters, my village Jessica McCurdy Zielsdorf for being all up in my bidness from the second I opened my eyes after surgery until the moment she had to go home. Feeding me ice chips, speaking to the docs for me when I literally couldn’t talk, she did it all.
Tamara Kunkle for organizing a meal train that has kept us well fed for the last week.
Alma Hernandez for driving me to my surgery andSheila Baeza for driving me home.
Delicious meals from Natalie Rose Tanase, Carlie Veno, Angela Lorenzo, Linda Osuna, Jessica, Tamara, Sheila, Alma and gifts from Michele McKinley Valdez.
My sisters, Nicole Leonard and Stephanie for just being there and loving me through it all.
My sweetLindsey Florczak Thompson and Maria Currie for constantly checking in on me.
My prayer warrior sisters, Alma, Sheila and Jessica who have been my sounding board through all of this.
My TEAM who is so incredibly amazing and supportive from all across the U.S. (And some in Canada)😄
I can’t imagine how differently this may have looked had I not had the strength and community I have today.
Cancer WILL NOT take me down.
Divorce WILL NOT take me down.
My story is not over. It is only just beginning.