Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Five Years Later

So today I went for my annual checkup on my thyroid. It seemed a bit momentous, being five years out from the big C being removed from my neck. But as always, I didn't know what to expect.

Five years ago, half of my thyroid was removed and in the four years since then, the remaining half has been watched. Soon after the cancerous portion was taken out, a bunch of lumps and bumps appeared on the good side. They've always been too small to biopsy or identify much about them through ultrasound, so every year it was "watch and see", not knowing if the ultrasound would change. For four solid years the ultrasound has remained pretty static - not getting worse but not getting better. I was in a bit of a thyroid purgatory - knowing that the lump that was definitely cancer was gone, but that other unknowns had crept up in its place.

This year when I went for my ultrasound, for the first time I felt a bit of peace. I was nervous, but not in full blown panic mode like previous years. The ultrasound itself was super quick and although the tech let on nothing (they usually do let something out to put me out of my misery) I just "felt" it was all ok. Today, leading up to the appointment I felt the same. I didn't want to be too confident in my gut feeling, although it has seldom been wrong.

Here's what I hoped and prayed would happen at the appointment: I'd walk in and he'd once again read the report that said something along the lines of "series of small nodules, less than 1mm". Then we'd discuss what my course of action would be - an ultrasound again in another year? Maybe stretch it out to two? Weigh the pros and cons, have a thorough once over about my general health and then I'd be on my way for another year.

Here's what actually did happen: I walked in and he read the report that said I had one 3mm lump, clearly identified as a benign cyst with no other abnormalities noted. Instead of talking about the course of action, we talked about how they KNEW it was benign. After thorough explanation and reassurance from the doctor, we decided without much fanfare at all, that I would be discharged from his care. Further ultrasounds would not be required because what this most recent image displayed was completely normal and "very low risk". I'd return to my GP for yearly bloodwork and unless something changed drastically with my health or bloodwork results, we'd assume going forward that my medication was doing the trick and my half a thyroid was functioning quietly and UN-CANCEROUS-LY!

I never in a million years expected to walk out of there today thinking the words "Cancer Free". I always assumed those little lumps were there to stay until one day they got big enough to biopsy and we'd find out once and for all. I never thought one would grow enough to identify it confidently as not being cancer and this would all be over. Who knew?

I can't tell you the relief this is. This thyroid journey has been ongoing for almost 7 years. Knowing it was cancer has been more than 5 years. It's finally over and I've just got this teeny tiny little scar to prove it.

I don't think I've ever loved that scar and all it stands for until today. Take that cancer! Just another challenge overcome.