(Brooke shares an update on her diagnosis in the video - Cancer. Me? )
Being a woman devoted to living a healthy lifestyle with no health concerns other than chronic fatigue and Hashimoto's, I casually blew off my doctor's recommendation to get a thyroid ultrasound after he felt a lump in my neck during my routine physical.
Eight months later, a dear friend of mine vulnerably shared her life shaking thyroid cancer experience with me. In an instant, her life changed, she changed, and so did her outlook on life. “What matters most to me,” she shared, “is that my children know I am a good mother to them.”
Her story is a long and painful one, but she fought, persisted, and beat it. She has to deal with scary check-ups every six months doing thorough scans to check if any cancer cells have returned. I have the utmost respect for her as a woman and a mother.
What moved me the most is her strength, life philosophy, her commitment to her family and her devoted responsibility to take the best care of herself. I booked my own recommended scan the following week. Sadly, I learned that I had a nodule on my thyroid that needed a biopsy. I wondered how long it had been there...
As I lay on the table in the thyroid specialist’s room, about to have my first ever aspiration to have my tissue biopsied. I looked to David who gave me the "you’re gonna be just fine" look. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see the needle and began my conversation with God. Which by the way, is a regular mental dialogue for me.
"Ok God," I said. "This sucks…what if it's bad news? Could I really have cancer? Why me, why now, what about my kids?"
Breathe, I told myself, long deep breaths so it won’t hurt.
The doctor made his first stick and said, “Bulls eye,” which meant he successfully retrieved the first bit of tissue. "Here we go again,” he said as he stuck me again.
It didn’t hurt really, my heart hurt and I felt like throwing up thinking about the possibilities. I kept the slow steady calming breaths flowing and went back to my comfort zone.
"Ok God, is there a lesson here for me, or for someone else... is it because I am strong and I can handle it?"
My subconscious, my voice of reason interrupted to remind me in the worst case scenario, thyroid cancer is totally treatable! God, the “C-word" is really scary! I never thought I would be lying there, healthy at 40, wondering if that will be my result. I faithfully know that I can fight through anything and God has never given me anything that I cannot handle. There have been some tragic moments in my life, but I survived them all.
“All done, I will call you Monday.” the doctor said. Great, I thought, now I get to wait five days to find out my fate. And why the hell didn’t I check this eight months ago when my internist told me to? Too busy, I guess, which today feels like an irresponsible, stupid and lame excuse.
So off I went to Vegas with my family, full of fear, contemplating the unknown, and trying with all my might not to dwell on the awaited results. I knew all I should do was patiently wait for his call and try to enjoy my family weekend.
I was different. I was scared; I was feeling the fear in David too. We told only a few people - there was no need to alarm anyone, especially my mom. I didn’t want to worry anyone. I wanted to forget all about it. Because, realistically, it most likely will be nothing serious, just an annoying benign nodule. But there is no denying my fear and my reminder that life is precious and oh so fragile.
I stopped thinking about all the things that I had to do, and I started focusing on the moments I was spending with my family. Every hour with them felt different. That weekend together we had so many great experiences. Life suddenly felt precious and it’s a shame that knowing that life can change in an instant is what made my shift. Life can change in an instant... so I decided to enjoy every minute. Sounds cliché I know, and we hear it all the time, but I’m living it and I am filled with gratitude for the time shared with my loved ones, because I got scared.
I am hopeful for positive results, but what I am really focusing on is enjoying every day. I also am sharing my experience because we have to pay attention to our bodies. Half of the women I know have autoimmune diseases, which is crazy! We have to get thorough check-ups and then follow up quickly on any/all issues that need further attention.
My weekend in fear was filled with great moments with my family. I will post a photo blog next to show you what my idea of living fully looks like. It was a beautiful weekend together, one of my favorites, prompted by my frightening news. But, I turned it around and enjoyed my waiting game. I’ll keep you posted on my results but first share the already good news... in an instant, I stopped to enjoy my beautiful life.