So, the night I was recovering from my breast surgery on August 19th, I haphazardly checked my Email.
There sat an Email from Meghan’s endocrinologist that shook me out of my anesthesia recovery pretty quickly. There is no time “in between” because there is usually SOMETHING going on. Overlap is a way of life.
Meghan had had lab work drawn the 3rd of August. Routine thyroid labs, and some tests from the gyn worked in. On the 18th the EMail from the gyn told me she was suspicious of a few lingering “issues” and we would address them at her late fall appointment.
The endocrinologist’s EMail said he was concerned about the resurgence of her “thyroglobulin” levels. He wanted to now treat her as a “high risk” thyroid cancer patient.
I almost dropped the phone, alone in my dark room. The last paragraph said he’d be on vacation for two weeks, and we could talk when he returned. I read. And I reread.
Decoding step by step – “thyroglobulin” is created solely by thyroid tissue. Someone with a complete thryoidectomy would have non-detectable levels about 3 or so months post operatively. Only thyroid tissue generates thyroglobulin. If some was left behind after her surgery a small number would have stabilized early. But for it to be gone, and then show up… This meant there had to be regrowth. And yes, it happens. Maybe to everyone, but definitely people with Cowden’s Syndrome. We regrow lymphoid tissue.
It’s a superpower of sorts. Except instead of being a really fun, save the world, or generate sunshine and happiness, superpower, it’s more of the – hey let’s add some more worry to your life superpower.
While the pathology on the thyroidectomy was totally benign, the mind can play lots of tricks. Lots of tricks.
I’m not slow. I am pretty well read. I’m equipped with the knowledge that having faith and worry are counterintuitive. Except I’m honest. And with matter of my girl, worry sometimes overwhelms. I never claimed to be perfect.
So I spent the last 6 or 7 weeks retreating. I barely spoke of this fear, this nagging thought that not only could the thyroid be growing again, but what if… what if all those precancerous things that we took out with it were somehow festering.
I made it my job to access the lab work. And it was a JOB. You would have thought what I was asking for just to see a list of messed up thyroid numbers. We live in a pretty crazy society. But, finally, after 2 weeks of labor, and getting increasingly vocal, I received 4 copies. All on different days. All from different people. But, I got to look at the numbers.
I am a numbers person, so I took some relief in the thyroglobulin being only 3. Undetectable was better, but 3 was on the better end of things. It was clearly well under that “10” I had found. So I took to waiting and ticking away the days until the next blood test. There was a thyroid dose change, and 6 weeks.
I broke my toe while recovering from the implant exchange, a few weeks after learning I was suffering not only from a single vocal cord lesion, but vocal atrophy secondary to premature aging, the latter which was likely due to the hysterectomy that became necessary after the breast cancer diagnosis in 2012.
And yes, I meant that to be a run-on.
It all kept me as occupied as I could while I hid in the start up chaos of September. I hate September. But, when you’re suffering personal angst and need cover under which to hide – it’s September for the win. I poured myself into setting up 25 classes, and over 550 students, logistically, and academically. It took some time.
And I kind of just ducked. Phone calls, texts… I played along.
“High Risk” thyroid cancer patient… like a recurring nightmare.
One of the reasons I was afraid to talk was the fear that someone would talk to be about thryoid cancer being the “best” cancer. Please, no one ever do that. When it comes to my child, a survival rate in the 90%s doesn’t soothe me. When it comes to my child, I, like every other parent want 100%. Nothing less.
I was scared.
We got the labs drawn at the hospital on Weds. the 28th.
On the 30th I was exploding. Every second seemed like an hour. Every scenario was playing through my head. So when I got the call that the test wouldn’t be ready till Monday I dissolved into a tiny puddle.
And then I did what every other mother does. I put on my big girl pants and got through the weekend.
Then Monday there was a brief phone call.
The thyroglobulin has returned to undetectable.
WHAT? How does that even happen? I sent out a million questions rapid fire. Most of them had no answer.
Crisis averted. Prayers answered.
I explained to Meghan why her Mom had been a bit extra on edge. She’s really growing up because she was grateful to have not traveled that mental journey with me, and appreciated me letting her in when it mattered.
Next blood test November 11. And we’re going with the theory that the thyroglobulin was a one time deal. An error. A miracle. Whatever. A win.
We’ve got 6 weeks. Some Mommy doctors. Some swim meets. 6 weeks. Sometimes that feels short. Right now it’s blissfully long.
On my knees in gratitude, we remain…