So I know it's been a couple weeks since I went to talk to my surgeon, and I haven't posted any updates for you. I'm sorry. I could say I've been busy (which I have), but that's not really all of it. Deep down, I just haven't wanted to talk about it much.
I'm not being fair at all, I know. I brush things off like they're no big deal, then snap at my husband because he really isn't in the mood for chicken alfredo, which my mouth is watering over but I'm not allowed to have right now. And I don't want to make a big announcement about everything, but sometimes I get annoyed that people go on like nothing has changed. I guess I don't really know what I want, which is frustrating too. So let me just tell you where I am, and you can pray for me.
I went to my surgeon for a second opinion on going through with the RAI (radioactive iodine) treatment. This is the same treatment I had in November, and it did have an effect on the cancer, but (unlike for most thyroid patients) it did not kill off all of the thyroid cancer in my body. There is a blood test that they do (forgive me if I repeat things I've already told you). The number they look at should be 4 or less, and in November, my number was 86. After the RAI had time to do it's thing, I took another blood test (about a month ago). Now that number is down to 33. That's good, but not good enough. I was concerned that this might mean there is something else going on in my body. Perhaps another type of cancer. My surgeon assured me that it is not. We are still dealing with thyroid cancer, which is good. Then came the difficult part. He told me that, considering both my young age and the aggressiveness of the cancer in my body, I will probably be dealing with this for the rest of my life. He was quick to assure me that, even in my circumstances, very few people actually die of thyroid cancer. And those that do usually live with it for a very long time.
I can't say that I was surprised or depressed or overwhelmed by the news. I've said from the beginning that I felt as though God was telling me to be prepared, and I've always taken that to mean I should be prepared for something big and difficult. Even so, I've been annoyed at my own back-and-forth emotions over it. I think I'm just dealing with the fact that everyone else can go on as usual, but I will never be done with this.
I am both amazed and frustrated that it seems as though God hand picked trials that I consciously thought about and hoped to never face. I am amazed and honored and humbled because at every step, He is teaching me that I can face my deepest fears in confidence if I lean on Him. I am frustrated because...well, let's face it, no one REALLY wants to learn that lesson.
It's been ages ago (we're talking high school, which is 20 years back, believe it or not) that I heard of a female Christian artist who prayed that if the music, the show, or her voice ever became more important than singing for Him, that God would take her voice from her. I remember it because it terrified me. I loved music, I loved to sing, and I did not want to tempt God to take that from me. And now here I am, with no voice. One of the first things I wondered was if this was because I had enjoyed the music more than the worship. I'm not saying I did...I guess I don't really know. Worship and music are so wrapped up together for me...not that it really matters now, but I wondered. I guess maybe I still do.
Then there's the "long-term" factor. There are so many stories of people who have suffered and/or died for Christ. I remember thinking, "Lord, I have no problem dying for you. But I don't know if I could suffer." Dying is quick. Suffering...not so much. Shallow, I know. And here I am, looking at years and years of dealing with a disease that will attack my body over and over again. Not knowing if there will come a time when it will stop responding to treatment, not knowing if it will eventually spread to another area of my body or become a different type of cancer altogether.
Most recently (in one of my rare melt-down moments), I told a friend that I just didn't want to be "the girl with cancer." That identity, that label...I don't want it. At the same time, I DO want to talk about it, to share how God has grown me, all of the good things that have come of it, even to share the hard times. But I don't want that to be who I am, if that makes sense. And now I know that instead of being someone who dealt with cancer, now I will always be someone who is dealing with cancer.
So there's this weight, this sobriety, that has settled on me. It happened before, when I was first dealing with this. I had to grow up a bit and face reality in a way that I normally avoid. I still have joy. I would even say that I am now able to feel a deeper, more rich happiness than I ever had before. But I don't want to give the impression that this is easy. Some days it is very, very hard. Mainly I want you to know that because I don't want you to have a false picture of who I am as I go through this. I have been given such peace and strength through all of this that sometimes my blogs come off as though I'm just breezing through every trial. I am not. I am choosing to have joy, I am praying for God to be glorified through it all. But I am so very human and so very weak on my own. It would be so easy to wallow in self-pity. This is why I am so very thankful for your prayers and all of the other forms of love that have been showered on me. And thank you for your patience with me. I hope to soon be much closer to my normal optimistic self...but it might not come until I'm allowed to have chocolate again! ;-)