Rolls of thunder echo outside my window, and I find it fitting to write and reflect tonight. It’s my last night before beginning the long-awaited journey in law school. That’s right, tomorrow night, I start school. It’s 9 months later than anticipated, but also not a moment to soon.
Surgery #2 Update
My incision is healing beautifully! I’m so impressed, and certainly satisfied with my change in surgeons. I’m substantially more tired right now, because I don’t think my thyroid medication has been correctly adjusted after this surgery, but I’m doing a great job of faking it! 😉 By around 2 p.m. I’m normally in desperate need of time to recoup–not necessarily a nap, but time to rest my mind and body. I rarely find the time to, but it’s nearly clockwork each day.
My pain is tolerable and I often find myself forgetting about it! My right ear, neck and right shoulder are still numb, but I’ve learned to wear different neck-lines again, no matter how uncomfortable (before anything that rested on my collar bones was intolerable). It’s a game of adaptability and pain tolerance, and I’m winning 😉
Last week we had school orientation, and it not only made me extremely excited about the subject matter (something I’ve been questioning for awhile now), but I have already made some great friends. Every person I’ve talked to has such a unique and incredible life-story. Either this reflects admirably on Chicago-Kent’s admissions committee, or it shows that as we age, we are given more opportunity to write meaningful stories with our lives that will impact people daily. I believe the latter has the most to do with it.
It’s such a beautiful concept–our life stories are merging together for a few short years to co-write the next chapter in our lives, before moving on to the next. I pray we write a story together that is memorable and noteworthy, not only to ourselves but to our friends, family and community.
Last week I went to the dermatologist for the first time. After several years of drum corps (two of which I never wore sunscreen…I know, terrible), I figured it would be good to have a general check up before the summer. To my surprise, they decided to remove a mole from my stomach that day and send it to pathology. I received the results today–it’s a dysplastic (atypical) mole, which is the stage moles gets to right before cancer. (Seriously, I wish I was making this up. hah). Because of these results, I am up to 30% more likely to have melanoma sometime in my life, so I will be going to the dermatologist every six months for a full-body check up.
I am relieved that they took proactive measures and removed it, but part of me is heavy-laden. While I am hopefully nearing my thyroid cancer treatment end, having another cancer scare surface, a multitude of emotions arise. I’ve always been a very healthy person–active, eating well, taking vitamins, rarely sick and never missed a beat. Then 9 months ago the rug was pulled out from under me.
Trying to remove the “cancer” stigma
Since my thyroid cancer diagnoses last summer, the hardest struggle I have faced has been emotionally the last five months. As a 23-year-old single woman, carrying the tainted tag of “cancer” begins to weigh heavily on your heart. Your thoughts frequently turn to feeling like “damaged goods” for anyone who might be interested in you. You start to feel guilty allowing people in because you have this stigma that will never be erased. Think of the people in your life who have had cancer. After knowing they have had cancer, how often do you think of them independently of that title? I know I unintentionally always marry the two. I don’t want people to think of me and think “cancer.” It’s such an isolating thought.
Even though I know I will be fine eventually, and I will live a full life, part of me feels selfish to enter any kind of relationship. I often feel as though I’ve lost a part of my health that I will never get back and this could potentially impact my future kids, so who wants to willingly walk into that mess? How is that fair to them?
I am normally not one to admit any of the above, but I’ve learned from my thyroid cancer community on instagram (several ladies who I considered close friends), transparency for others walking this road is essential. I’m strong and stubborn to push past any adversity, but I’m learning to put my ego aside and let people know when it hurts. Believe me, it’s not easy. If I had it my way, you would think the last 9 months of my life has been a walk in the park.
I am afraid of appearing weak or look like I’m seeking pity, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled with this, and I want to be honest to anyone who might be following my story and struggling in similar ways. You are not alone.