Another Trophy for my Collection

My friend, Beth, passed on a wonderful quote to me before my first surgery:

“Never be ashamed of a scar,

it simply means you were stronger

than whatever tried to hurt you.” ~Unknown

Here is my newest trophy proving I am “stronger than cancer”.

DSC_0226This photo was 2 weeks post thyroidectomy and lymph node dissection.  It looks even better now at almost 3 weeks post.


No Voice Yet but Feeling Better

Everyone is asking “how am I feeling?”:  I started feeling better the last two days…I just still get tired quickly.  I still have a VERY stiff and sore neck and shoulders (started Physical Therapy yesterday).  Also my voice is not back.  So I’m avoiding the phone and unfortunately can’t raise my voice.  I may need to get a whistle so I can get the kids’ attention. 🙂  I’m still uncomfortable and choke often on liquids (the nerves along the left side that control coughing and prevent choking are still irritated).  I see the vocal nerve specialist in two weeks and he can help with those symptoms if they persist.

I had my post-op with thyroid surgeon yesterday.  The scar is healing very well and we went over my biopsy results.

During my 7 hour surgery she removed the entire thyroid, 1 parathyroid (left 3 intact), and 20 lymph nodes on the left side of my neck.  11 of those 20 lymph nodes tested positive for papillary thyroid cancer.  She also removed some cancer from my vocal nerve and cricothyroid joint.  Even with those results though I am STAGE 1 which is good.  However, I am at a High Risk for recurrence.  So…I am no longer “fighting” the recommendation that I need to proceed with Radioactive Iodine (RAI) treatment.  I realize now that I do need a dose of that to help “kill” any remaining microscopic thyroid cancer cells.

One positive thing is:  my surgeon has said this many times…”This thyroid cancer is not what will take ‘me’ to heaven”.  She is confident that I can live a long life regardless of this thyroid cancer (even if it returns years down the road).  I do get to “check in” with her every 6 months for the first 3 years and then every year for the rest of my life.  Good thing I enjoy going to see her.  She is extremely gifted in her specialty and very funny.  She always has several medical students and residents following her around and she loves that I don’t mind helping them out.  I let her video tape and photograph my neck, voice, etc for education.

My sister Kim came from Virginia to help.  She left her own 1-year old at home and came here to cook, clean, take care of my kids, and even organized some cabinets for me!  Loved having her here!  Now my mom is here to help for the rest of the week.  I’m so lucky to have so much help.  Thank you also to my other sister and the rest of my family too for all the food, organic juices, and meals to freeze.  I’ve also received some very useful restaurant gift cards and boxes of healthy snacks from extended family and friends!  THANK YOU all for your continued support!  It sure makes the recovery process easier!

Home Again

Can’t say that today was much fun. So glad my husband was able to stay with me for the several hours at the ER. My neighbors were a very intoxicated man who pondered walking into my room and a suspect being guarded by two officers. Glad I had my own security guard. 😉

I just needed some IV calcium (I was feeling very weak). Of course I wasn’t a priority at the ER (understandably so).

Anyway I’m home resting and feel much better.

I did get to talk with the voice specialist surgeon today briefly. My vocal nerve is very irritated for sure. We won’t know for weeks or months if it will repair itself. If not, he has several options to help.  For now…I’m limited to whispering.

Thank you again to family and friends for watching the kids and keeping our fridge full!!




Back in the hospital

I’ve started feeling worse…tingling in arms, legs, hands and overall feeling very weak. (Sign of low calcium from parathyroids).

Just had my drain removed (yay!) but being admitted for a few hours to get IV calcium.

Fun times hanging out in ER.

Home for Recovery

I was able to come home yesterday evening.  Given that I knew how to empty my surgical drain better than the nurse aids, and the lab kept poking me to check calcium levels, I was happy to come home. 🙂

The surgery went even longer than expected.  I was under anesthesia for over 7 hours.  Since waking up, I can feel mucus in my chest and throat.  Almost impossible to clear it out though without irritating the huge incision wrapping around the base of my neck.  I have a lot of very sore muscles and the worst sore throat I’ve ever experienced.  But I am able to move around better than after my mastectomy at least.

I’m uncomfortable but it could be much worse.

The surgeon said that there was some cancer attached to my vocal nerve along side my thyroid.  So she had to “scrape my vocal nerve”.  I’m so lucky because she did not have to cut it and it appears my voice will come back.  It is raspy and hard to speak loudly for now but I do still have my voice.  It may be irritated for several months.  Anyone who knows me knows I can talk “a lot”.  So already the past couple days communicating in a whisper is so frustrating.

Anyway, I’m heading back to bed.

As always…thank you all for your continued support!


Kristen Out of Surgery

Kristen had a successful thyroidectomy today.  She went into surgery at about 8:00 AM and didn’t get out of surgery until around 4:00 PM.  She is staying the night at OHSU tonight and will hopefully be home tomorrow.  The surgery went pretty well, her voice is scratchy and she had a little bit harder time with the anesthesia than her prior surgeries.  She will post more details when she gets home.


Time to Kick some “Thyroid Cancer” Behind

Next up on my agenda of surgeries:  Thyroidectomy with left neck lymph node dissection

Tomorrow’s the day for Surgery #3.

My surgery starts around 8:00 a.m. tomorrow (8/7).  It is a 6 hour surgery:  complete thyroid removal and then removal of the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck.  I will be staying at least one night in the hospital.

I’m planning to kick thyroid cancer’s butt (just as I have breast cancer).  My biggest worry right now really is the risk associated with this surgery of damage to my vocal chords.  If I can’t raise my voice at my kids or sing to them I will be pretty pissed off. 🙂

I’ve heard from other physicians that my surgeon is VERY skilled and one of the best.  I do have a lot of confidence in her so that puts me at ease as much as possible.

I’ve been so busy finishing up work, making chicken soup from scratch, washing tons of laundry, and getting the house in order that I’m looking forward to laying in bed for a bit. 🙂

I will have Jer post a blog once I come out of surgery (late afternoon).

Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers!