My Superhero Survival Guide

I was dealing with NOT knowing…  then knowing more than I ever really wanted to know.

After discovering my superhero– yes, folks that’d be me– I have risen to the unforeseen challenge of coping with a whole year of not feeling so hot only to
receive the news that I have papillary carcinoma a.k.a. thyroid cancer. All my hopes were not dashed to smithereens, however, as my particular type of cancer is one of the best you can get … 1) It’s curable, 2) You can live without your thyroid, and 3) it is usually a simple case of going in and taking all the bad stuff out. Only one dose of radioactive Iodine should kill any remaining cells.
That would be the best case scenario.Following my diagnosis (12/17/2008) I had a very weird Christmas– not knowing what to say or feel or what was going to happen or when– but I managed just as well anyway. When I got back to my apartment in Toronto, I was adament about getting on with all this treatment and surgery stuff because I had first noticed something back in Spring 2008.

I had spent all my time, following the Christmas holiday, doing my best to keep myself busy enough not to worry or think or throw a tantrum because I had absolutely no idea when the surgery would happen. Following my appointment on January 23rd, my family and I loaded a moving truck and take everything that we could back to our family home up near Ottawa.

The meeting with my surgeon was informative. He hardly said anything to me and let his resident explain the extent of the surgery and all possible risks and side effects associated with such an invasive procedure. They mentioned numbness caused by nerve damage,   difficulty swallowing, and an assortment of other things that could go wrong– Wrong, of    course, is what I heard: nobody ever says that there’s anything wrong when they talk about   how they’re going to make the bad stuff go away.

Most of the information just floated by me. I was on this weird all-but-euphoric cloud of fear and anxiety and fatigue interspersed with the odd moment of panic. One thing that I do remember was when they were talking to me about what might happen if the cancer had moved into my voicebox. They would have no way of knowing until they got inside but if they found it: they would have to cut the nerve on my right vocal chord– Which truly scared me!

For more than ten years I had been training my voice to be an actor and I had always loved singing and now this strange man in a white coat was telling me that I might have a hoarse, scratchy voice after my surgery. Of course, I held my ‘I don’t know what to do or feel’ cards close to my chest. It couldn’t apply to me and I was going to be the exception and my voice was going to be just fine without any cancer tagging along.

What did they leave me with? Well, the standard wait time would be four to six weeks before surgery. For me, that seemed like forever! Forever– a.k.a. four to six weeks– came and went. And you’ll be happy to know that just about everything they told me was a risk actually happened to yours truly.

After prepping as hard as I could, I woke up in intensive care with the driest mouth I have ever known. I was thirsty and sore and groggy and feeling rather rotten. But that is where the fun begins: being reduced into a state of ‘I donno what I’m gonna do because I can’t do much about it anyway.

‘N’ that’s how I survived… MDB

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