Cancer is word that when you hear it, it sends shivers immediately down your spine. Your heart aches for anyone affected by such a horrible thing. Whether you are a survivor, or have a family member who is a survivor, or a family member that has passed from the treacherous disease. But when the word cancer pertains to your life, that's when the whole world begins to change.
I knew something was wrong with me for months. I was tired, worn out, and all I ever wanted to do was sleep. I was constantly getting sick. Every doctor I met with told me "you work with kids, it's a germ factory in there." I knew that part of this was true, but I also knew something just was not right. The gland on my neck was not going away, even with the several rounds of antibiotics I was given. I felt like giving up. I didn't know what to do. I was at my breaking point. My anxiety was at a state of all time high. "What if I have cancer," I thought to myself. My heart started to race, my chest felt like it was closing in on me and I started to cry.
I struggled with this thought for months and was reassured by several people that I did not have cancer. I got myself to a psychiatrist to get on anti-anxiety meds to help the panic attacks, because I was not convinced. Whatever was inside of me was affected my mood and my work. Finally, I was referred to the right doctor, and there you have it. That word you never want to hear. That word that sends shivers down your spine. That word that makes you cringe. Cancer. I was diagnosed with stage one papillary thyroid cancer. But not to worry, it was "the good cancer."
Weeks went by, and I went through several tests. Loud machines, being poked and prodded in several places to the point where you cannot feel the pain in those spots any longer. I was out of work by now, not knowing if I would have a job when all was done and said.
It was time for the surgery. 2 week recovery I was told. 5 hour surgery. Immense amount of pain. I couldn't talk for a day. I had a complete thyroidectomy with a central neck dissection. 42 lymph nodes removed along with part of my neck muscle. I had a nurse waking me up every hour to check my calcium level because they removed one of my parathyroid, or to give me pain meds that were not working. The next day the hospital had me leave when I could of used another night or two.
I was in agony for weeks. No one told me what this pain would be like. Nerve pain zapping me every 5 seconds. I compared myself to Harry Potter, as though Voldemort was trying to tell me a message though my scar.
Fast-forward 5 weeks. The pain has subsided. I still cannot fully turn my head and cannot drive. I rarely sleep. My job is not there and am out of work. I am numb from my right side of my neck down to the right side of my shoulder. I am depressed and have constant anxiety about the cancer coming back.
"But don't worry," they said, "this is the good cancer."
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