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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Or, not waiting.

Hi lovelies,

I discussed my plan with my surgeon, and he does not feel comfortable with my endocrinologist's plan of waiting and seeing. He is ordering a CT scan now to check. I do trust him, as he has been in there and seen exactly what the cancer was doing. He says he remembers me well, so I think it's smart to go ahead and have this scan. I will let you know the results when I know....


Sunday, September 23, 2012


Our family has been through a lot the last few years. Sometimes it seems like one thing after another, and I wonder when it will ever end. It feels unfair, and when I hear people complain endlessly about what seems trivial to me, I get so frustrated. But you know what? Everyone has painful stuff in their lives. I constantly catch myself judging people, or making assumptions. I'll have a patient at work who is mean and grumpy, and I think, what did I ever do to you to deserve to be treated like this? But then I hear their story, and it seems like too much pain for anyone to bear. Of course that doesn't excuse their attitude. But, I think the difference between happy people and unhappy people is the way they look at their situation. You can make the best of it, or you can be sour at the world for the rest of your life. Kris Carr said it best: "I got news for ya. Life is a terminal condition: cancer patients are just more aware of it. The real question is how many of us will choose to truly live."

Lately I've often found myself daydreaming about a life with a big house and my dream car, a life where the endless hospital bills just seemed like pocket change, and I could afford to try whatever cancer-curing program I wanted, or not worry about taking yet another day off work for a doctor's appointment. But then I realized that daydreaming isn't going to accomplish much, and really only leads to feeling more sad that my reality isn't what my dreams are. 

So instead, I've decided to love and be satisfied with the life I have. There really is so much to love about it! I honestly have the most amazing people in my life. My home may be small, but I live on the beach, in my favorite neighborhood of Seattle. Though I may cause hardship for my coworkers when I have to miss more work, they always seem to forgive me. The hospital bills may keep coming, but I am fortunate enough to have health insurance.

The small change in how I view things has made all of the difference in my happiness. I feel much more at peace. I am so thankful for all that I have.

Monday, September 17, 2012

waiting and seeing...

Hello loves,

I've been living it up here. Brunch with friends both days this weekend, mimosas and football yesterday afternoon. I'm so happy to be off that low-iodine diet!

I had my appointment with my endocrinologist on Friday, and discussed what to do next. We looked at my lab results, which showed my pre-Thyrogen thyroglobulin level as 0.4 (it was 0.1 when we checked a few months ago, so it has gone up, but only slightly), and my post-Thyrogen level as 1.0. So there is still cancer there, but the RAI didn't work, so what to do now? My doctor thinks it's okay to wait 6 months and recheck with an ultrasound and thyroglobulin levels. He strongly feels that the risks vs. benefits of external beam radiation aren't worth it. 

Honestly, we left the appointment a little confused, and a million questions popped into our heads the moment we walked out the door. Do we think my body is going to clear this on it's own? Or at least keep it in check? Last year, after my radioactive iodine treatment, when my thyroglobulin levels remained slightly elevated, the idea behind waiting and seeing what that the RAI would continue to do it's job battling the cancer in my body for 6 months. But right now, it's all up to my body. And what happens in 6 months if my thyroglobulin levels continue to creep up? My surgeon had pushed external beam radiation so hard. He was certain that RAI wouldn't work. I'm eager to hear his opinion on what to do now. I am thrilled about not doing any treatment right now...but the thought of cancer just living in my body is scary. Although, Crazy Sexy cancer survivor Kris Carr thrives despite untreatable cancer hanging out in her body for the past 10 years. 

I plan to get a second opinion, but in the meantime, no matter what the plan, I intend to enjoy life to it's fullest while trying to be as healthy as I can. 



Thursday, September 13, 2012

good news/bad news

So, the good news is my cancer didn't take up the radioactive iodine, so I didn't have to have the treatment yesterday, and therefore my nausea is almost compeltely resoved, and I am back on my normal diet! The bad news is, my cancer didn't take up the radioactive iodine, so I will probably have to do external beam radiation. This is a lot to process right now, but I am meeting with my endocrinologist tomorrow to discuss what to do next. I will post an update when I know more.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

party's over

Hello my loves!

Wow, these past weeks have been a whirlwind! We had our magical wedding celebration in Friday Harbor on September 1st. We enjoyed a week of fabulous weather and nearly every single one of my most dearly beloved came to join in the festivities. Families came together from near and far, wounds began to heal, and our love was celebrated. It was so incredible to see the culmination of a lifetime of dreams come together into exactly the event I wanted to create. Our wedding coordinator perfected every last detail and allowed me to relax and be pampered on our big day instead of sweating the decorating. The guys lended their hands and even submitted to some "pink" jobs, like tying chair sashes. It all came together into the most special event.

But it all ended too soon, and I had to begin my low iodine diet on Monday in preparation for my radioactive iodine treatment next week. Last year I decided to do an all-raw diet, which may have helped with my energy levels, but this year I decided to focus on comforting and delicious foods. I really wanted to try out all my new kitchen gifts that we received! Last year I also had to go off of my thyroid medications for about a month resulting in an extreme hypothyroid state, and all the symptoms that accompany that. This year I am getting the thyrogen injection instead. I don't know much about the injection, but I do know that I am glad I won't have to go off my medication! I'm not allowed to have anything processed at all, and I can't eat out, in case the foods contain iodine. I also have to give up soy, so no tempeh or tofu for me! I've spent the past few days cooking up some staples, like bread, beans, seitan (a vegetarian wheat protein), vegetable stock, stew, and pesto, so that I'll be well fed this week and throughout my treamtent. Although it's more work to make these from scratch, it really helps so that I don't feel deprived, and really, shouldn't we be making as much of our foods from scratch, anyway? It's the small things, like mustard and soy sauce, that get annoying. I've been so lucky to have wonderful friends helping out with the cooking as well.

On Monday I have labs and a thyrogen injection, Tuesday another thyrogen injection and then a I-123 test dose, on Wednesday more labs, a full body scan to see if the RAI is absorbing, and then the radioactive iodine treatment, if it is. Honestly, getting the treatment would be a good thing. If it wasn't absorbing and I didn't have the treatment would mean that I would have to try another treatment instead - external beam radiation. I'll be locked away for a couple of days following that, then I'll have more labs on Friday. I should be well enough to be back to work the following week. I'll have a body scan on Thursday, the 20th at 10 am, to see how well the treatment worked.

This round we have decided to do outpatient treatment, instead of the lead room I was locked in last year. The conditions are that I have to have a separate bedroom and bathroom from anyone else, and of course I have to stay far away from anyone. Since our home only has one bathroom, I can't stay there, but even a hotel room would be more comfortable (and much cheaper) than the lead hospital room! I'll just have to make sure I get lots of antinausea meds from my doctor, since that was my primary symptom last year.

What an amazing summer it has been, and I am so grateful that I got to enjoy it so much before beginning my treatment. I will post photos from our weekend soon.



Monday, August 6, 2012

a quick hello

hello, and happy Monday...

enjoying summer to its fullest here, and despite being busy at work, in the last week there was kayaking, brunch with friends, a film in a park beneath the stars for my best friend's birthday, lots of wedding reception planning, playing in a raft in the lake with my hubby as we watched the blue angels perform for seafair, sailing with old friends, and swimming in the ice cold sea. the weather here was into the 90's this weekend, and what a rare treat that is for Seattle!

We are still planning for my treatment in September, although I have not received the final schedule from my doctor yet. I am thankful that I was able to postpone until next month so that I can enjoy all of this sunshine. And I am anxiously awaiting our wedding reception in just under four weeks, for I am eager to see and celebrate with my nearest and dearest!



Saturday, July 28, 2012

saying goodbye

Hello, my loves...

These past weeks have been an emotional challenge, and I have felt more fragile and delicate than ever. 

My grandmother was scheduled to arrive in Seattle on July 4th to spend a few days before embarking on her dream Alaskan cruise. However, an emergency surgery for a small bowel obstruction canceled her trip, followed by an uncontrollable infection and respiratory distress syndrome, which took her from this world last week. Jesse and I flew down to Orange County, California last weekend to be with our family. It was a sad and emotional time, but beautiful in that it brought loved ones together.

In her passing we have all been reflecting on what a magnificent lady she was and the ways in which she inspired us. My earliest and fondest memories of her are her singing for me. She had the most magical singing voice, and how I wish I had inherited that! But she did instill in me a love of music, and every time I sit down at my piano I think of her hands, gradually aging through time and becoming more arthritic and less nimble, but still able to play the most beautiful classical pieces until the very end. Her favorite tune of all was Somewhere Over The Rainbow, which certainly has become my preferred as well. When I was a child she sent me a cassette tape she recorded of herself singing that dreamy song, and how I wish I still had that. 

Carole, my grandmother, imbued the French spirit, as she would linger for hours over a meal, eating slower than any of us grandkids thought humanly possible. She also loved to savor her red wine and her coffee. Eating a meal, surrounded by her loved ones, was her most treasured time of all. We could all learn from this to slow down a little and relish the best moments and meals in life.

She also loved to travel, and although she didn't make it on her Alaskan cruise, she did traverse the country much in her midlife in the RV her husband loved to drive. I remember fondly when they would roll up to my childhood house and my brothers and I would gleefully go sit in Grandma's motorhome, and even got to sleep a night or two in there. As I mentioned before, my grandmother did love her coffee, and at her service my aunt shared the story she had heard of one of their travels when they were driving through the city in their RV when it was time for Carole's afternoon coffee. Of course there was no where to park the monstrous vehicle, so her husband circled the block again and again while Grandma was in the coffee shop.

The most amazing thing about my grandmother was her ability to spot beauty in anything. She was always observing the world around her and pointing out what she thought was beautiful; things that most would never have even noticed. Somewhere Over The Rainbow really did seem like a fitting theme song for her. And in her memory I will try to open my eyes more; to experience the world around me and seek out the lovely amidst the mundane. What a marvelous way to stay positive and happy.

It aches that she will not be there for our wedding reception in September, because I remember the delight in her voice as I told her about it, and through her tears of joy she told me how excited she was for it, and for Jesse and I to be married. I know that she will be watching us from over the rainbow, among bluebirds, where dreams really do come true...

I love you, Grandma.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

just a little update

Hello's been a long time, and I regret the long absence. So very much has been going on in my life, yet very little progress with my treatment has taken place. I'm blogging from our balcony in this amazing 80 degree Seattle weather. There's no place I'd rather be than the Pacific Northwest in the summer. Jesse and I house- and dog-sitted in Redmond this week, and spent our nights hanging out in the hot tub or drinking wine in the sun, blissfully enjoying the sun. Can you tell I'm from the NW, seeing as I feel the need to write half my post about the sunshine?

I want to say thank you to those of you who have contributed to my cancer ass-kicking fund. With the nightmare of all of the hospital bills I've been facing, your support is so very appreciated. I don't know how I'd do it wi

We have been hard at work planning our wedding reception. It's shaping up to be just the celebration I envisioned, thanks to some help from some very wonderful friends. My good friend Sarah is helping me to create and letterpress some incredible invitations, and it's amazing how much work goes into creating custom stationery like that. She listened so closely and is transforming my visions into a reality, and knowing her, the finished product will be even more than I could have dreamed of. I can't wait until my loved ones find them in their mailboxes.

I am just finishing my up second week at my new job. It's been a whirlwind trying to move to this new practice, and slowly but surely everything is coming together. I'm excited to finally move into the 21st century with computer charting, and learning the system has been a breeze. However, working in a clinic with male patients is quite different to me, having only worked with women for the past three years! Thankfully, the doctor I work with will still only see women, but the office dynamics are certainly different. I look forward to us getting settled into our new routine and seeing what amazing things we can accomplish.

In the beginning of June I went with the doctor and nurse practitioner I work with to a urogynecology conference in New Orleans. It turned out to be a disaster getting there - think canceled flights and spending the night on the floor of the freezing Dallas airport - but we learned a lot and it was a great bonding experience for our team.

Other excitements include some sailing expeditions, one of which was a 16 hour journey from Seattle to Anacortes on the 4th of July. It was Zeus' first long sailing trip, and he did great. Weekend brunches with friends or family seem to be becoming a routine, and I have to say it is probably my favorite moment of the week.

And as for my treatment, I did decide that I wanted to try the radioactive iodine, and see if it will work. The risks of external beam radiation are just too high. It has been a nightmare getting the treatment scheduled. There was a shortage of the thyrogen medication until June, and now that it's in stock, there is a backlog of people needing treatment. They had me scheduled for the end of August, but since our reception is September 1st and I am required to keep a 3 foot distance from anyone for a week after discharge from the hospital (as well as many other not-fun precautions), I had to ask them to reschedule the treatment for September. I am still working with the Cancer Care Alliance to get that scheduled.

So, there's some snippets of my life. I'll try to stop by more often :)


Sailor dog { + friend }
Sailor husband

4th of July Sunset

Monday, May 21, 2012

what's next?

Hi loves...

I've been waiting to post until I knew what was next for my treatment, but honestly, I still don't know. It's been a frustrating couple of weeks. My surgeon, as I mentioned before, is really pushing for external beam radiation. He doesn't feel that radioactive iodine would take up well enough because of the amount of scar tissue present. We met with him on the 8th and had me all but completely convinced to do external radiation. My next step was to meet with me endocrinologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Jesse and I came to that appointment on the 11th prepared to discussed the risks and benefits of external radiation and ready to make a decision to go forward with it...but instead our doctor threw us for a loop. Instead, he made it clear that he feels that external beam radiation would have no benefits. He assured me that the "vast majority" of those patients end up with a feeding tube. This was a new risk that we hadn't been informed of yet, and one far more concerning to me than some hair loss or an intensely sore throat. We learned quickly that he had some records from my surgeon but hadn't discussed anything with him at all. I was angry and confused that I have two supposed "experts" who are recommending completely different treatment, and besides that, saying that the other treatment would do no good. And either my surgeon was omitting some very serious side effects of the treatment, or my endocrinologist was trying to scare me out of it. Who to trust? The surgeon, who has been inside of my neck and seen the cancer with his own eyes, or my endocrinologist, a supposedly "famous" expert in the treatment of thyroid cancer. I expressed my feelings of confusion and my endocrinologist agreed to phone my surgeon so they could come to a mutually agreeable recommendation for treatment. Unfortunately my surgeon was on vacation last week, so they are planning to confer this week.

In the midst of all of the confusion, I decided I had to gather more information. Third, forth, maybe even a fifth opinion. Last week Jesse and I met with a fantastic radiation oncologist at Evergreen Hospital. I may have gotten a little "VIP" treatment here - hey, it pays to know people who know people :) This doctor spent over an hour with us in a conference room, starting at the very beginning. As Jesse noted, this doc knew my history better than any of my other docs. He was obviously very, very thorough. Thankfully, he said he's never had a patient who ended up with a feeding tube from radiation for thyroid cancer (and he's been doing this for over 20 years). He said about a third of patients end up with IV fluids to prevent dehydration, but to me, an IV is pretty insignificant compared to a feeding tube. The biggest risk he is concerned about is the potential for a future cancer. And since I'm planning to live a long, long time, this is a big concern for me. He feels that the right direction to go would be a radioactive iodine scan to see if the cancer will take it up, and then a radioactive iodine treatment if it will. He then recommends an MRI every three months to watch closely that this cancer doesn't return. Whereas my surgeon felt I needed treatment within a month or risk damage to my nerve, the radiation doctor felt that with those frequent scans we'd have time to catch the cancer before it did any damage. The radiation doc said that there really just aren't any studies for my scenario - and that's why I'm getting such conflicting recommendations.

So, honestly, I really don't know what my next step will be. I'm waiting to hear what my surgeon and endocrinologist agree on. I'd prefer the "wait and watch" approach - but the radiation onc said this really isn't an option. Therefore, even though the prep and diet for the radioactive iodine is horrendous, and the treatment itself caused severe nausea, I feel that it's less invasive than the external radiation and I'd definitely be more inclined to go this route - and hope that it works.

I'm very confused as to why my endocrinologist would tell me this apparent lie about a feeding tube with radiation, and wondering if I should find a new doctor. But, I'm tired of starting over again with a new doctor who has to learn my history. It's so hard to find a good endocrinologist - there just aren't many of them. Those who are immersed in all of the research aren't always the best with patients. And, I'm not just a number in a study - I'm a person. It's also so annoying to have records at three different hospitals - the Cancer Care Alliance, the UW hospital, and Virginia Mason. And trying to keep track of the bills from all three.

Thank you so, so much to those of you who have donated to my cancer fund. It helps so much with the bills and all of the work I've had to miss. I really couldn't get through it all without your support.

I'll post an update when I know more...

In the meantime, a few photos from our perfect, simple wedding!



Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Hello, loves.

What day is it? Everything seems to be running together since my surgery on Monday. I've mostly been sleeping (a lot!). It amazes me that I can possibly sleep this much. It takes a lot of energy for the body to heal itself.

My body surprised me by springing back quickly after surgery; I was ready to leave the hospital less than an hour after coming out of surgery. There was significant pain, but I was much less groggy than last year and my throat was less sore and I was able to swallow easier. As a whole, the experience was much better than last year's surgery. My anesthesiologist and nurses were fabulous and I felt well cared for and not scared throughout the whole procedure. 

Unfortunately, my surgeon didn't find what he was expecting inside my neck. From the scans it seemed like the tumor was a cancerous lymph node, but instead the doctor found a new tumor that was much more aggressive than thought. It already had tendrils wrapped around my laryngeal nerve. As evidenced by my ability to still talk now, he didn't damage the nerve, but it also meant he wasn't able to dissect out as much as he would have liked. Because of the aggressiveness of this cancer, my surgeon is recommending external beam radiation within a month in addition to the radioactive iodine treatment. This is a lot for me to think about, because of the serious effects that external radiation can have (permanent loss of my hair & voice, other types cancer). But for now I will take recovery just one day at a time, and not focus my energy on any decisions at this point. 

That's the quick update, but I wanted to share it with you all because I know you were wondering. I'm going back to bed now...goodnight :)



Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Hi, loves! I just got home after a massage to ease my knotted neck muscles that have been torturing me for the past week. My massage therapist worked her magic and I feel better already. 

I have some more amazing news... I got to marry the love of my life on April 5, barefoot on the beach at Las Caletas, Mexico. It was the most perfect, stress-free, intimate ceremony I could ever have imagined. The wedding planner took care of everything and all we had to do was show up for the boat ride to our beach. Coral rose petals scattered the aisle that I walked down. I wore two white lilies in my hair, and carried a bouquet of the roses and lilies. During the ceremony Jesse and I surprised each other with our vows we wrote ourselves. Our dearest friend, Jamie, came with us and filmed the special day. We had a professional photographer as well, and it will take about a month to get our photos back. I can't wait to get them and share them. We will have a reception in Friday Harbor in September to celebrate with our friends and family.

Our return home has been full of joy as we share the news with everyone. I'm so excited to get to call Jesse my husband and become a family. I'm also grateful to have him by my side as we go through this next phase of cancer treatment. 

I met with my surgeon yesterday and we have scheduled my surgery for April 30th. It seems so soon, but I guess that means I can move on with life that much sooner. He sent me to get a CT scan after my appointment yesterday to make sure that there aren't any other tumors he'll need to take out during the surgery. I felt like an old pro during the IV insertion and scan. I can tell you exactly which vein to use; I know exactly when to swallow (or not) and when to hold my breath (or breathe).

Recovery from surgery last year wasn't too bad. I was very tired for the first few weeks but the pain was manageable. The fear I have is of the risks of operating on the precious area that is my neck - around the life source, my carotid; around the voice box, my larynx; around my calcium regulators, my parathyroids. And I have flashbacks to coming out of surgery last year and the panicky feeling of not being able to breathe as the oxygen mask was pushed onto my face (for some reason my oxygen saturation was dropping) and the nurse who kept yelling at me not to cross my legs or I would get a blood clot (but the position I was in was very uncomfortable for my back!) and not being able to see anything because my glasses were with my family (I'm rather blind without my contacts in!). But this time around I'll know what to expect and try to remember to remain calm through my first moments of waking up. On the bright side, my surgeon promised to fix my scar with this surgery because it hasn't healed very well in the front. He also was very reassuring that he operates around the carotid all the time, which made me feel enormously better. 

I also returned home to a stack of 8 hospital bills. Now that it's a new year, it means a new deductible (and out-of-pocket limit) to reach. It's frustrating that it starts all over again. When I start my new job in July I will have much better insurance, but putting off treatment until then is not an option. The tumor isn't going to go away on it's own. I really, really appreciate the financial help I received from you donors last year, and anyone who wishes to donate again, it would be very much appreciated. I hate asking for help, but it's overwhelming right now to see how fast the treatment cost adds up, and how enormously expensive each procedure is. 

Much love to all of my friends and family... I can't wait to share my wedding photos with you.



Sunday, April 1, 2012


Sorry it has taken me a few days before I could write this, I had a lot of processing to do and also I've been busy getting ready to go to Mexico!

My biopsy came back positive for more cancer. Like I mentioned in my last post, this means more surgery, another radioactive iodine scan, and possibly more radioactive iodine treatment. I'm disappointed and frustrated but I'm trying to remain positive. We knew that the recurrence rate for this type of cancer was high, and my thyroglobulin never got below 0.9 so we knew that there was always some cancer remaining in my body. However, I know I can get through this all again with the incredible support system I have!

I have a consult set up with my surgeon at Virginia Mason on April 17. He is only in on Tuesdays and since I'll be in Mexico for the next two Tuesdays and I'm not about to change my vacation, I'll wait until the following Tuesday. This is the same surgeon who did my thyroidectomy and dissection last year, and I really trust him.

The biopsy was a terrible experience because the tumor is behind my carotid artery and they couldn't figure out how they were going to get to it. I was lying on their table, all prepped, while the doctors argued about how to get around the carotid and to the tumor. They had to decide the route they were going to take before they gave me my IV sedation. The attending warned that if they hit the jugular they could probably stop the bleeding, but it would be bad if they hit my carotid. I nearly jumped off the table and said to forget the biopsy - I would rather not bleed out on their table! But I had an IV in my arm and decided I'd rather just get this over with and trust that with ultrasound guidance they would be able to pass by the artery. They were considering aborting the procedure and asked me accusingly who authorized the biopsy. I was livid because they had the ultrasound report and could see for themselves what they were here to do but obviously they hadn't read it before prepping me. Finally they were able to put enough pressure on my neck to separate the veins and get to the tumor, and at last gave me my IV sedation, and the procedure was over before I knew it and I was safely on my way to recovery.

Knowing the challenge they had in getting to the tumor with the biopsy makes me nervous for the surgery, but I really trust my surgeon. After my consult I will know more about what to expect and schedule my surgery date. 

Now, off to Puerto Vallarta for some sunshine and relaxation, and all the margaritas I can drink! I'll be back on the 11th.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

So much news

Hello my loves, Where to begin? So much has happened in the last weeks. There was my birthday, which was filled with so much love and celebrating. A weekend spent in Portland on a vegan food tour. My one year cancer-versary came and went without too much emotion. A beautiful ring and a proposal from Jesse which makes him now my fiancĂ©. He is the one that has been there with me through every doctor's visit, hospital stay, and treatment, by my side through every vulnerable moment. I can't wait to be his wife. The proposal was followed by wedding dress shopping, every girl's dream come true! And a date set, a venue booked. There's a new job in the works...the doctor I work with and I are leaving the clinic we are at to join a urology group. New beginnings are so exciting and I have much to look forward to this year. I will sorely miss the ladies I work with now who have been so supportive throughout my experiences this past year and have taught me so much about nursing. But I look forward to all that I will learn in this new group. 

There was also an ultrasound. Unfortunately it didn't come back as hoped. There is a new mass in my neck, behind my carotid artery on the right. Tomorrow I will be having a biopsy. If it is indeed more cancer, I will need surgery again (it is too big to treat solely with radiation). Then another radioactive iodine scan, and if still positive, then another radioactive iodine treatment. But I am staying confident that it will turn out to be nothing...and if it doesn't, I know I have a phenomenal support system around me to get me through it all again. I've been struggling to sleep because of the high doses of thyroid hormone I'm on to suppress cancer growth. Tomorrow will just be a little nap...I'll wake up minus a few cells, and then patiently await my pathology results. It will take a few days but I will post an update as soon as I know. 

It's hard to stay down about the pending results when I have so much goodness and possibilities in my life right now. In just over a week Jesse and I are going to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for 8 days in the sunshine. It couldn't come at a better time. 

Now, off to the Seattle VegFest for sampling of all the newest vegan products and listening to some great speakers talk about the health benefits of plant-based diets! I appreciate all your positive thoughts tomorrow.



Monday, February 13, 2012


Hello and happy Monday! I'm one of those rare people who loves Mondays - because I get the day off work! I work four ten's and I honestly think it's the perfect schedule. Having a weekday off to get errands done and have some "Lisa" time is so helpful for my sanity.

A couple weeks ago I had my blood drawn to check my thyroglobulin (Tg) level. Like I've mentioned before, this is the tumor marker used for thyroid cancer. The goal is zero (no evidence of cancer). It takes a while to get the results back because they have to ship the blood across the country to the lab. As you can imagine, it isn't cheap - but necessary. Last time, in September, my level was 1.1. Now, nearly five months later, it is 0.9. The good news is it hasn't gone up. But the idea of some cancer cells still residing in me, waiting to multiply out of control whenever they wish, torments me. So I will continue with my healthy living and hope that my body keeps them in check - and fights them ferociously! 

Next month will bring more scans and follow up visits. Next month will also bring something else - something that I'm not sure I should celebrate or mourn. My one year cancer-versary. I was diagnosed on March 18, 2011. This year went by so fast, and while I won't call cancer a blessing, I will be thankful that it has brought me so much closer to some of my friends and has inspired me to write, to drink green juice, and to surround myself with people and things that I love. So, perhaps I should celebrate my first year of living (or as some people say, thriving) with cancer.

Alright my loves, Happy Valentines Day tomorrow. Calories don't count tomorrow (just like birthdays, Christmas, and Thanksgiving!), so spoil yourself with chocolate and conversation hearts! Or flowers - those really don't have calories.


Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm back!

You might have noticed that my blog was down for a while. I started having second thoughts about having so many personal experiences out there on the web for all to see. I'm sure that most bloggers experience these feelings sometimes. But then I remembered why I started my blog: to keep my loved ones updated. And then it morphed into something bigger - I wanted to share my story with all - to inspire people. And this is who I am. I know that anyone who reads this will only get to know me better. This is the real me!

I am sitting outside in the sun as I write...without a coat on! These sunny winter days are a rarity in Seattle, but oh how they lift the spirit. During our snowpocalypse a few weeks ago I was so desperate for some sunshine that I was surfing the web for some last minute tickets to the OC, but unfortunately they were over $500 each way. I probably would have walked to SeaTac just to get out of here, had they been in my price range. It wasn't the snow that I needed to escape; actually, the snow was fun for a few days. But I wanted to see the sunshine! Preferably from a California beach! For now I will enjoy the Seattle sunshine and dream of a tropical vacay.

The last few months have been full of amazing time during the holidays with family, busy hours at work, and beautiful moments with friends that have proven how much the relationships have grown. We are still struggling to get my thyroid medication at the right dose. Every 6 weeks I get a blood draw and my dose changed. Being kept so hyper is not fun. Night sweats, moodiness, hot flashes - you'd think I was going through menopause! I will learn to adapt and thrive, though, because this is my new normal!

I had a bit of a scare a couple of weeks ago. I woke up with the right side of my face all swollen and a large lump deep in my cheek. It is on the right side, the same side that my tumor was on. My PCP got me in the same day and after a quit exam she informed me that it was actually my salivary gland! The glands can get clogged and even develop a stone. The radioactive iodine is absorbed by the salivary glands, resulting in a permanent dry mouth post treatment. The cure? Hopefully it will go away on its own. Otherwise the ENT surgeons can do a small surgery where they insert a little catheter to allow it to drain.

I regretfully didn't make it to the gym much during the holiday season. But I have renewed my commitment to healthy living and green juice is my new coffee; yoga class is my new Saturday morning routine. But while I can tell my stamina and flexibility suffered from my exercise hiatus, the plus side is that after the break now my workout classes seem so fun and fresh. Green juice tastes better than coffee, and salads are what I crave. Maybe a short break is good for us sometimes.

green juice on a sunny morning

In other good news, I have signed up as crew for a Portland regatta aboard Anam Cara at the end of February. I realized how desperately I missed sailing, even if the thought of shivering on a boat doesn't seem very appealing; I know once I get out there I will be back in love with the sport that I have devoted so much of my past to.

Some things that I love, have always loved, that I want to commit to doing more of: sailing, dancing, reading books, learning, playing my flute & piano.

And off to play in the sunshine....