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Going Strong

June 30 marked six months post op for my total thyroidectomy. I knew in my gut what was wrong with me before I received my thyroid cancer diagnosis. That helped me handle the blow of the news with little struggle. I was so happy to finally have answers to my years-long malaise that I was happy to attack the treatment phase aggressively, courageously, and optimistically.

Recovery, however, is such a different life than living with cancer or going under the knife for cancer.  Nothing prepared me for the journey I would embark on from that point. I have learned and experienced much more than I ever could have anticipated. For this I am grateful.

I have been blessed with a depth of empathetic understanding which only comes from a personal cancer journey. Cancer is a horrible word and an even worse concept. It is a curse.  I would never wish it upon anyone (even people I dislike) and the very thought of someone new having to go through that trial terrifies me.  Even more so when it is someone I care about.

I have made friends with strangers with whom I never could have been blessed to become acquainted otherwise. These people are strong and beautiful inside and out. They have changed my life for the better and I hope I can keep a piece of them with me always.

I used to be a very private person, but I have learned to be much more open and transparent about my life and who I am. I hope this helps people know that I can relate to them in their own lives and that I will happily always be there to support and uplift them in whatever ways I can.

Some of my friendships have crumbled to almost nothing. It kills me and even though it has been a very long time, I still shed tears on their behalf, whether they deserve it or not.

Some of my friendships have become stagnant and it confuses me.  I hope they know that I still hold them in high esteem and wish they knew I will always be there for them when they want me to be.

Some of my friendships have been fortified stronger than I ever expected, and for this I feel profoundly blessed. They have been my greatest strength.

Horrible, ugly aspects of my marriage were finally able to be cast away and my relationship with my husband is better than it ever has been.  I feel like we are stronger than we have ever been. We are happy, even when we struggle. (That’s a lot.)  We find much to be thankful for in spite of the difficulties we are still facing or the lessons we are still learning.  We have goals, and those goals are actually attainable.  We move forward with anxious excitement and optimism.

My children are stronger too.  They have had such a difficult time of things.  Much harder than they deserve.  I know their hearts hurt more often than they let on.  I hope they can see how special they are and how proud I am of each of them in their strength and goodness.  I thank God for them daily because they are my sunshine.  They are my motivation to become strong (and fun) again.  They are my challenge.  I have seen them struggle to cope with this horrible “Mommy is always sick,” “Mommy, why aren’t you fun anymore” life.  They impress me constantly with their optimism and their tenacious resolve to make the best of every situation.  They have developed compassion more than they had before.  They have a strong, unwavering determination to succeed.  Their friends, teachers, relatives, and honorary relatives have been such a great help in soothing their aching souls.  You will all forever have my utmost and sincerest gratitude for loving them the way they so deserve.

I have been blessed spiritually. My relationship with God was strained for many painful, lonely years, for many good reasons.  I have since witnessed miracles great and small, not least of which being the ability and opportunity to rekindle my relationship with Him. An empty chasm has slowly been filling back in.  I no linger feel abandoned the way I had felt for so very long. 

A beautiful, resilient, spiritual giant of a woman I know, who faces an even bigger, terrifying “dragon” than I do said it so perfectly when she said, “I know that at the end of the day it is not modern medicine that will heal me.  True healing can only come through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”  I believe this to be true and it gives me comfort that she has so much strength and support in her life too. I hope someday that I can be as amazing as she is.

Sometimes I get frustrated.  I’m frustrated with myself more than anything else.  I am used to being successful and resilient.  I don’t think I am either of those things now.  I used to be good at and enjoy so many things.  I have lost my hand, lost my touch, lost my ability in more things than I can count.  It hurts because I used to be able to identify myself by my talents and my skills.  However, that has taught me that I should not have been choosing those aspects to identify myself to begin with.  I will always be many faceted, but whether those things change or not, I will always be me on the inside.  If nothing else, I want to be known as kind and sincere.

Sometimes I get “unfrustrated.”  Where I no longer have the ability to excel in some things, I have found the ability to excel in others.  I can live with that. Quite happily.

And in many things I am simply relieved.  An incredibly talented and successful musician once told me that I have the voice of an angel.  He and I lost touch over 15 years ago, but his words were so needed and have been cherished ever since.  Only the people who know me best understand how badly I have always needed that or any boost of confidence because the biggest trial I always, constantly, and probably will forever face is my lack of self confidence.  Singing has been one of my greatest joys and favorite outlets.  And although I rarely get to sing publicly anymore, I am so grateful that I still have the ability.  One of the largest tumors (I had many) sat directly over my vocal chords.  I’m only recently getting the strength back to sing without pain or discomfort. It’s thrilling!  There’s no guarantee that the cancer will not come back years in the future and threaten to take it away from me for good, but for now I have it back and I am so happy.

I have been placed on a learning curve for health.  I have learned that I have to be my biggest advocate for my health needs and I love how much I have learned so far.  I have so much to learn still, but I will get there.

Losing my thyroid has improved my life in many ways, but it has also caused me a great deal of trouble and struggle.  It feels like a domino effect where one huge health concern threatens to knock into many other pillars of health.  I am still doing a crazy balancing act trying to keep it together and retain my health while I learn to identify my perfect balance.  Some days are worse than others.  I’m okay with that.  “I’m not dead yet!”

I am so fricken tired!  Like all the time!  Again, this has to do with those massive dominoes I am struggling to keep balanced.  In spite of my permanent state of fatigue, I set mini goals for myself each day and keep pushing myself to do better, be better.

I have learned how pathetically weak and silly I am in so many ways!  I have so much I should be ashamed of.  But that wouldn’t get me very far.  So I rely on my Anne Shirley positivity by reminding myself, “Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it.”  I will do better.  I will try harder.  I will get stronger!

Cancer is inconvenient and I hate the many ugly faces it shows and the ways it threatens to rip apart and damage so many aspects of my life and health. But the truth is that for me (and I know that it is much uglier for many less fortunate people) I will only let it affect me to a small extent. It is a hurdle I get to jump over each day, but it is not an impassable obstacle. 

I feel like I have a new, better life in many ways.  (I still deal with a ton of crap.  A ton.  But it just isn’t worth acknowledging all the time.)  I am optimistic. I no longer struggle with hypothyroid induced depression.  I have a firm handle on my anxiety.  I am actually beginning to like myself again.  (It has been a while…)  I have goals again and I am pushing myself to become involved in more things once more.  I’m hoping and demanding that my energy levels keep up with me.

My metabolism is thinking about rebooting.  I miss being fit and strong.  I’m taking care of me as well as I can and working on getting my hormones back into work.  I rely on natural, whole, organic living as much as I can.  I believe very strongly about that.  Trust me, there’s already enough harmful carcinogenic influences in the world (hereditary cancer here), so why would you willingly threaten your body with even more if you didnt have to?  (This may seem odd to say, but I am blessed with many allergies which help remind me to live as well as I can.  I slip up frequently, but I will get the hang of it.) 

I am fixing myself.  I’m looking forward to being allowed and able to kickbox and run again.  I love being active and miss having the energy to be so and the energy which comes from being active.  I’m looking forward to seeing the old me in the mirror again.

Lastly, my brain fog is slowly leaving.  I am able to write again. Only for short periods of time, a few hundred words here and there.  But that makes me so happy!  Those few hundred at a time are soon going to turn into a few thousand at a time.  I can finally see the finish line.  It is thrilling to be able to pursue my passion again. 

It is thrilling to LIVE with passion again.  I am looking forward to the next six months. I don’t deny that it will be challenging.  This experience has already challenged me to the core.  It is terrifying.  Daily, it threatens to break me, to take me away from everything and everyone I hold dear.  But that is not something I will let happen easily.  It is not in my nature to stand down from a fight.  I’m still me, only stronger.

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