But there is one more cancer related post I need to write. How this tumour came to be (found).
So let me ask - do you believe in Guardian Angels? If not, you will probably think this post is insane. Because although I don't mention things like that very often, I have some heavily vested personal interest in my own guardian angels (hello - if your own mother and daughter aren't your guardian angels, WHO ARE?!). I'll admit that sometimes I get angry at them and wonder where they are when I need them. But other times, like through this whole cancer ordeal, I believe they're right where they should be...
April 2010 - Boys are newly home from the hospital. I am exhausted and realize I am not making enough milk so I go to the doctor. I tell her I'm tired and haven't been producing enough milk for ages, but to her that's not a good enough reason. She decides to send me for bloodwork "just to be safe".
May 2010 - The original bloodwork is not normal - I have hyperthyroidism. She sends me for more bloodwork - the hyperthyroidism is worse. We discuss postpartum thyroiditis and by all accounts it sounds like I've got it, although it has absolutely nothing to do with my milk production. She palpates my thyroid and feels nothing. She decides to send me to an endocrinologist "just to be safe".
August 2010 - I go for more bloodwork and see the endocrinologist. My bloodwork is completely normal. Postpartum thyroiditis it is and that's the last I'll hear of it! He gives me an exam and thinks he might feel a tiny lump, but it's so small he can't be sure. Why don't we send me for an ultrasound "just to be safe".
September 2010 - Ultrasound shows a 5mm lump. It's not biopsied because it's so small, but it shows calcification, a tiny red flag (doctor's words) for cancer. The lump is surely nothing, women my age are lumpy (again - his words), but why don't we repeat the ultrasound in six months "just to be safe".
March 2011 - Repeat ultrasound. Lump is shown to be 11mm in one dimension and less than 1cm in the other dimensions. It's the radiologist's call whether I should be biopsied since it is so borderline (1cm is the cutoff). He contemplates, then decides to biopsy it "just to be safe".
April 2011 - Results are inconclusive. Let's take it out "just to be safe". Gulp. Surgery.
Aug 2011 - Half thyroid is removed, without complications, and an 8mm lump is found to be cancer. The possibility that it is spreading is questionable, though minimal. No further treatment for now, but let's watch me very closely.
Did you catch that? The lump is only 8mm, not 11mm as measured on ultrasound. So in fact it never "should" have been removed, or even biopsied in the first place.
So you saw all of those "just to be safe" references...
At any one point in that chain of events, one of my doctors could have decided there was nothing more to be done. In fact, this all could have gone undetected had my GP taken my word for it when I said I wasn't making enough milk because I was tired (which in fact was the truth). How often do I go for a check up to my doctor? Not often enough, and I can't recall the last time she palpated my thyroid. How big would that lump had to have been before she found it?! BIG. So something made all of that happen. Good, careful doctors, yes, absolutely. But some sort of intervention by my guardian angels for good measure? I'd like to think so.
So when I get nervous about the fact that I am not having surgery and instead just watching things, I try to remember that this lump should never have been found in the first place. If not for that intricate path following my simple request for breastmilk producing drugs, I would still have a cancerous tumour growing UNDETECTED. So hopefully, like all along this path so far, the right decision has been made. If this specialist who has done all of these things "just to be safe" doesn't think this time that the risk outweighs the benefits, I need to trust - doctors, angels - maybe both.
Before I go, here's one final incision picture. It's pretty much healed, although the stitches still haven't dissolved. I think it's going to look like this for a while now, hopefully lightening as each day passes.
FYI - I don't think it looks that good in real life - I think it's good lighting and camera trickery. Jordan claims it does.