Memorable Weekend, Pre-Radiation

I’m several days into the pre-radiation routine–strict low-iodine diet (see previous post) and no thyroid medication. I meet with my radiologist this Thursday to hopefully get more information on my dosage of treatment, length of being quarantined and likelihood of multiple treatments. Prayers would be appreciated!

This past weekend was such a blessing. I started all of the pre-radiation methods Friday morning, and made my first 3.5 hour drive to Grand Rapids, Michigan to visit my cousin Melissa at her school. The drive was stunning, the fall colors are in full swing, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to some great music and taking it all in.

Friday night, Melis, her friends and I walked to downtown Grand Rapids to watch the release of hundreds of lanterns over the river. If you have seen the movie Tangled, you have a good idea of what I’m talking about. In any event, it was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. Would have been a great date 😉

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The next day, Melissa and I spent the whole day doing fall-festivities that I truly missed the four years I lived in California, and one of the main goals for the day was to make a bunch of food that would follow my low-iodine diet. We went to a local orchard and bought apple cider, apples and pumpkins to carve.

We spent the day cooking–we made pumpkin bread muffins, spicy pumpkin seeds (from out freshly carved pumpkins 🙂 ) and for dinner we made chicken with cinnamon apples. Everything we made turned out very well, and it definitely lifted my spirits. Not to mention we watched The Hunger Games during dinner, which of course was awesome. I was beginning to think I was going to be eating oatmeal, fruits and vegetables every meal for the next several weeks :). Now, however, I have great motivation to make so many things, hopefully in large quantities so that I have left-overs.

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I cannot express how much the changing seasons does my soul well. It brings me so much joy. When I start to feel the weight of what I’m walking through right now, it often only takes looking out the window and breathing in the crisp air to revitalize. There is so much beauty in the world–even in the most unlikely places.

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After returning from such a memorable weekend in Michigan, I was blessed to end Sunday watching football with great company. I mean how much better could the weekend have been?? Well, my roommate’s dad and sister visited last night and we watched Here Comes Honey Boo Boo–that’s how! Weekend complete. 🙂

I’m definitely starting to feel the weight of not being able to take any thyroid medication. I’m uncomfortably tired all-day, everyday. However, I am still keeping active, laughing the usual uncontrollable amount and even exercising when I feel my heart won’t explode ;). It is very clear to me that my strength is not of my own.

Pushing Through Recovery and Seeking a Meaningful Story.

Two and a half weeks have past since my full thyroidectomy and lymph node removal surgery, and I am reluctant to admit that it has become difficult. The first couple weeks I was pushing through the pain of the surgery and the little inconveniences of recovery, but the process of healing in that regard was relatively simple for me to push through mentally. It was surgery after all, it made sense that pain would come, and it made sense that I would be down for the count for a week or so with all of the antibiotics and anesthesia in my system.

Now, however, since my wound is healing very nicely, and I’m gaining more mobility in my neck, I desperately desire to be able to go about life normally, but my body will not allow it. I feel very tired all day and while I can go out for a chunk of time–even the majority of the day or the majority of an evening–I cannot make it through a full day of walking around or even talking without getting exhausted. I really do not want this to be a woe-is-me blog, so please bare with my transparency and honesty.

It is definitely a mental battle. I have never been forced to rest for this long. I am used to being able to get up early, exercise, accomplish an extensive “to-do” list each day and feel pretty energized even at the end of the day. Deferring law school a year because of being diagnosed with cancer four days before starting was difficult, but not as difficult as dealing with the frequent thoughts I have these days:

“What are you doing with your life now?”
“Why are you just sitting there?”
“Why are you wasting time?”
“How are you helping others by laying on a couch?”

I have committed myself to a daily devotional each morning and have learned that if I read immediately when I wake up, I can read what I planned to before my nausea and exhaustion settles in. It has certainly helped start my day off on the right foot and kept my spirits high. I look forward to being able to read more throughout the day and growing more in knowledge and understanding. For now, it is hit or miss each day if I will be feeling well enough to read and comprehend. It’ll come though, I know that.

I want to make a difference in this world, and it is hard for me to be confined to my apartment for much of the day. I want to go out and talk to people. I want to love strangers, seek justice for the oppressed and pursue opportunities that place me in optimal position to impact people for good.

Right now, I need to seek more silence and prayer. There is nothing else I can do at this point, and I am finding peace in that. From living in California, working four jobs while going to school full-time and being part of a world-class percussion group to—-> moving to Chicago, being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, having no school and work only two nights a week for a couple hours…I do not think it is an accident that I’m being forced to slow down. It is time to truly evaluate what I want the rest of my life to look like when I complete radiation and get back to full health in the next few months.

I am so thankful that my favorite author, Donald Miller, just released a new book called “Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s Story.” It looks like it is going to be an excellent resource for planning a life that has a meaningful story. I hope that while I’m quarantined for radiation treatment, I can spend time working my way through this book. I meet with my endocrinologist on Monday to talk about the treatment.

In everything though, I continue to be reminded of how blessed I am and how beautiful the people in my life are. Thank you for your encouragement and steadfast love through this journey. While I like to pretend I can do this all on my own, I am willing to admit that I am wrong. I would not be where I am today without all of your love and support. If you have made it through the end of this post, you are one of those people, and I just have to say from the bottom of my heart–Thank you.

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Ps. 73:26