Sunday, June 2, 2013

CT scan, travels, and cupcakes

Hello! Where to begin? Life has been full of so much joy.

I saw my surgeon in April following my CT scan and got the good news that there is no visible disease. However, since my labs show that there is at least some disease remaining, my surgeon agrees with my endo that we should consider external beam radiation in the future. But, he also agrees that it is okay to wait a few years and keep it in our "bag of tricks" for now. He did tell me that if the disease comes back he would not be able to operate for a third time due to the location. So for now, I'm enjoying life and living healthy.

I've been at my new job for two months now, and for the first time in a while I truly enjoy going to work. Working in OB/GYN is exactly what I want to be doing and I think I have joined a good group. I have found that working with the right people is essential for my happiness.

In May we ventured out to Virginia Beach, VA for a holiday at the beach with my family. It was sunny and relaxing, and as it turns out, there is an abundance of vegan-friendly restaurants there. Relaxing at the beach is probably the most healing thing for my soul. There's no where I'd rather be than at the beach or on the water.

vacationing properly (those are virgin, obviously)
yep, those are my very white toes

Last weekend I went to Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR. It is an internationally attended conference for vegan bloggers. Yes, I'm being serious. I also attended the first VVC in 2011, and this one was even bigger and better. Besides getting to eat amazing food, I also was surrounded by people who share my core ethical beliefs. In fact, I also met two other thyroid cancer survivors there, both of whom are healthy and thriving now. The conference left me inspired to start working on a separate, more vegan-focused blog that I will be launching soon. I will keep this blog going as well to keep everyone updated on my adventures with cancer.

early morning walk in Bellingham
my favorite flowers
In April I went with my friend to see my favorite ballet ever!

Yesterday I sailed in the WWU Alumni Regatta. I hadn't sailed in an FJ since college, and it felt so liberating and thrilling to be back in a dinghy. I was worried that I wouldn't remember how to race a dinghy, but as it turns out, it is still second nature to me. I plan to find as many opportunities as possible to sail this summer.

In other news, I've been working on launching my new cupcake business, Once Upon A Cupcake. I will be making cupcakes for weddings, parties, and events. I love baking cupcakes, so why not make it a business? I am doing my first weddings this summer and couldn't be more excited to provide delicious treats to so many people who won't even realize they are cruelty-free to boot!

chocolate cupcakes, just because

a tower of cupcakes for my birthday party
chocolate almond fudge cake

strawberry rhubarb cupcakes to celebrate nurses week

Signing off now to go enjoy our sunny weather. Can you believe it's almost summer?!



Thursday, April 4, 2013

more changes

Just a quick update on what is exciting in my life! 

I accepted a position at an OB/GYN clinic and started this week. I am so excited to be back in a field that I truly love and that the bulk of my experience and knowledge is in. I wasn't seeking a new job, because I loved the ENT office I was at, but this kind of fell in my lap and I couldn't say no - and so glad I didn't! So here I go, starting a new job for the third time in one year! Let's hope this one sticks :)

We just got back from an extended weekend on the Oregon Coast with some of my family. It was a relaxing and beautiful time.

In other news, Jesse and I are celebrating our one year wedding anniversary tomorrow! This year has gone by so quickly and we continue to fall more in love every day. 

As for my health, I have a CT scan scheduled for Monday and I will find out the results after my follow up appointment on April 16. More updates then. 



Thursday, March 14, 2013



I met with my wonderful endocrinologist this morning to review my test results and have an ultrasound. My stimulated thyroglobulin level was 0.781, so there is a small amount of cancer left, likely where the tumor was wrapped around the nerve that my surgeon tried to dissect last year. Before that my thyroglobulin was 1.0, so it does not seem to have grown to the size it had when we caught it last year, and fortunately she wasn't able to see anything on the ultrasound she performed. I do have a CT scan scheduled for early April. 

My endocrinologist did say that she does think it would be a good idea to do external beam radiation, but that it is okay to wait a few years, as long as my blood levels are watched closely and I have frequent scans. Right now I am okay with that plan because the future is so unpredictable and it gives me plenty of time to weigh the risks and benefits and see what happens in the next few years to decide if I would like to go ahead with that type of treatment or not. 

I have had so much anxiety over the last few weeks, probably because this time of year for the past 2 years I have been preparing for cancer surgery. I was very nervous about these test results, yet confident at the same time that I would be okay. I feel better now that I have an idea of what those naughty cells are up to in there, and now I'm ready for some birthday celebrating tomorrow! 

As they say, there's nothing that a cupcake can't help! ;-)



Monday, February 25, 2013

my new life

Well, hello there! It's been a while!

Let's see...we successfully packed up our Seattle apartment and toted all our belongings up North to quaint Bellingham. Every weekend has been busy with unpacking and working on the house. It feels like home now, and I've settled into my new routine and couldn't be happier. Cooking is so much fun with a big kitchen! Life is much more laid back in this city. Everywhere is only 10 minutes away, and parking is easy. There are trails galore, and we've been enjoying Whatcom Falls Park in our backyard. And my family is close.

I had planned to take a little time off from work to get settled in our new house, but I didn't even make it one day as a housewife before I got a job offer. I am now working in an Ear, Nose, & Throat clinic with the most amazing group of people. I am still getting used to how casual things are in this town...even healthcare isn't as fast paced and patients aren't as demanding as they are in the city. 

And as for my health, the Thyrogen injections are finally in stock at Virginia Mason, so I have my injections today and tomorrow and then labwork on Wednesday. This will help determine my risk of recurrence. I will find out the results and have a scan when I meet with my endocrinologist on March 14th. Will update you all then....



Grandma's chandelier in our new house 

in our backyard...Whatcom Falls Park
vegan chocolate cake baked in our beautiful kitchen

Sunday, January 6, 2013

reflections & opportunities

taking a moment to reflect on the emotional year that 2012 was, and to look forward to what the new year will bring us...

from the very low that we experienced early last year, when we found out that my cancer had returned and I would require another surgery, to the very best moment of my life when I married my husband, 2012 was quite the journey. Right after returning from our whirlwind wedding in Puerto Vallarta in April, I was on the operating room table once again. But I came out stronger than ever before, and once again loved ones came together to show me their support. I started a new job the end of June and had to say goodbye to my coworkers at the Center For Women's Health, some of the most amazing and kind women I've ever met, but new beginnings are always full of hope and excitement. In July my beloved grandmother passed on from this world, and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by our family as we grieved. She will live on in every note of music I play and every photograph I take. We celebrated our marriage in September with one hundred of our closest friends and family, and the power of all the love we were surrounded by was overwhelming. The event was the result of a lifetime of dreams and the collaboration of so many to make it possible. Later in September I went in for what I thought would be my second radioactive iodine treatment, but ended up finding that whatever cancer was left was not going to take up the iodine. While this seemed like terrible and scary news, our outlook soon changed when we found that actually there's only a very small amount of cancer left and I wouldn't have to go through external beam radiation. For Thanksgiving we traveled to Houston to be with my family, and took Jesse on his first trip to Texas, which turned out to be such a fantastic week. I'm thankful that I had so many opportunities to visit with my extended family last year. We spent our third Christmas together in Friday Harbor once again, and the few days of quiet were much needed due to all the chaos of our lives right now.

What chaos, you ask? Well, we are overjoyed to announce that we are moving to Bellingham! I spent three amazing years in this house during college, and I can't wait for all of the memories that Jesse and I will make there. This 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house seems like a palace to us after living in a 2 bedroom apartment in Seattle for the past 3+ years. And I will have a kitchen again! A big, beautiful kitchen for creating all kinds of amazing vegan deliciousness...and a dishwasher so that Jesse doesn't have to assume that role ;) Right now we are back and forth, working on getting the house ready to move into and packing up our apartment. It is a lot of work! But, I am looking forward to being back in this small city that I simply adore. And the possibility of starting a second new job within a year is overwhelming, but I am excited to see what Bellingham has to offer me as a nurse.

As far as my health goes, I am going to stay with my doctors at Virginia Mason because they are very specialized and experienced. Presently we are waiting for another shipment of Thyrogen so that I can do another stimulated thyroglobulin test. There's constantly a shortage of the medication, so it could be another month or more before I am able to do the test. In addition to that I will do another scan around the end of February. Still just watching and waiting, and living as healthy as I can....

Happy holidays and may this year be your best one yet.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

a new doctor

hello and happy autumn...

today I met with my new endocrinologist at Virginia Mason that my surgeon recommended. Great news: I really like her! She spent over an hour with me reviewing my history, doing an ultrasound right there, and making a plan. She was very thorough and relaxed, and I felt like she really listened to me. She comes from UCSF and is very up to date on thyroid cancer and treatment. She praised my surgeon again and again with his ability to resect my tumor from my nerve. She was amazed that I am still able to talk, and said that even the best surgeons at UCSF probably would not have been able to leave me with a voice.

one thing that I loved about her was that when I told her I am vegan she exclaimed how great & healthy that is, and agrees that it will help with healing. It was nice to have such an informed doctor. I was disappointed to hear that the weight gain I've experienced since my thyroidectomy is just my body's reaction to not having a thyroid, and that the only way to reverse it is to change my medication dose, which we can't do because we have to keep the cancer suppressed. Can't I have a thyroid transplant? I miss my thyroid so much! ;-)

on the ultrasound she did find a small nodule next to the nerve again. It is too small to operate on at this point, so we will watch it carefully and if it grows then consider our treatment options. She ordered some lab work and a full neck ultrasound, which I will do on Monday. If that confirms what she saw today, we will do a repeat ultrasound and labwork in 4 months to monitor it. Ultrasound is better at detecting these recurrences like this, whereas surgeons prefer the CT (like I had a couple of weeks ago) is better for surgeons for planning their surgerys, hence why my surgeon ordered a CT instead of an ultrasound, and why this doctor wanted to do an ultrasound as well.

so, for now, more healthy living, fresh veggies, and I will update you after my ultrasound results next week.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Happy Autumn, my loves! It has continued to be unseasonably warm and sunny here in Seattle, but the days are getting progressively shorter and there is a briskness in the morning air.

I had my CT scan yesterday and met with my surgeon today to discuss the results. The great news is the scan was normal and there's no evidence of the tumor that was resected in April! The surgeon was incredibly honest with me, and said that no one really has any clue what will happen in my future. He says that external beam radiation really is only effective if done in the first 6-8 weeks post-op, and since I am now nearly 6 months from surgery, he recommends waiting at this point, and saving it in our "bag of tricks" if I have another surgery. He is not very convinced that I will never have to have another surgery, but reassured me that even if he has to take out a piece of my carotid, he can do a vein graft, and patients can do very well with this. If he has to take out the vagus nerve, however, I would have some significant quality of life issues. For now, he says we will "watch it like a hawk." He also set me up with a new endocrinologist at VM that he speaks very highly of. It will be wonderful to have all of my care in one place and for my doctors to be able to easily confer with each other. I have an appointment with her on October 25.

So, the good news is there's no bad news!

Back to work now...xoxo