I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer four and a half months ago. My thyroid was removed on Sept. 30th and my cancer was gone. I lived with a cancer diagnosis for about two weeks, and then it was over.
I am a “cancer survivor” but I don’t really feel like one. Cancer is something disruptive. It requires surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, and regular follow-ups. I have known many people with Cancer, including my own family. Some won their battle, and others did not. I didn’t have a battle.
Talking about this with one of the members of my life group he called it “cancer with a little c”. It’s not that thyroid cancer isn’t serious, it’s just very slow growing. I could have lived for 20 years or more with this cancer living inside me before there was an outward sign. As it is, this cancer was only discovered because of a blood test reading being slightly off. There was a whole series of dominoes that fell before an actual diagnosis, but that blood test was the start of it.
I’m lucky and I’m grateful for it. The only consequences of this brief period are a three-inch scar at the base of my neck which should fade with time, and I have to take a pill every day the rest of my life. That in itself is kinda cool, they took out an organ, and all that my body needs is a tiny purple pill to replace it. How weird is that?
I don’t know what to make of this experience, even after a number of months. It went by in a flash, relatively speaking. The thing I was most worried about at the time was my voice (I like to sing and the thyroid sits on top of the vocal chords). A day or less after the surgery I was speaking normally. Singing’s a little different, the shape of my throat has literally changed, but I’m getting used to it.
I was working on my third novel at the time of the diagnosis (trying to get it done before the surgery which ended up not happening). The last thing I wrote before the surgery was a prayer. My character had been through a great deal of trauma himself and was on the cusp of a final crisis. My character doesn’t really know how to pray, so his conversation is very informal, basically just saying what he’s feeling at the time, and asking what he should do. The specifics require more explanation than I’d care to go into here (this is at a point 90% through the book after all), but a lot of my feelings at that moment came out through my character. I read it back to myself for the first time today. It was a good reminder of how I was feeling, but it didn’t really have any answers, because I didn’t have any then.
I don’t want to obsess about this episode, but from time to time I think about it. Why did it happen at that particular time? How has the experience changed me?
Again, don’t really have an answer right now, but if I find one worth sharing, I will.
Have you had an experience like this one?