Saturday, November 24, 2012

Huey Lewis

After my first appointment with my ENT I went to have the barium swallow test on the sixth of September to see if there were any issues with my esophagus.  I had to stand with a white, upright table with a white screen in front of me while drinking this thick milkshake that tasted chalky.  It was not a fun experience at all.  I had to even drink a more water down "milkshake" while laying down on my stomach.  The last thing I had to do for the test was to swallow a barium pill, but for those that don't know me, I can't swallow pills.  I've never been able to and I wish I could because liquid medicines taste horrible.  Luckily the ones testing me didn't think I need to do the pill test since they couldn't see anything wrong.

By this point I should have gotten my test results, but no calls.  I called the office, but was told that lab results will be backed up due to Labor Day weekend and also there was a conference in Washington D.C.  Then the following week it was a game of phone tag with the office as they were trying to get a hold of me.  I finally got them on the phone during one of my breaks at work and was told they would give me my results on Monday after my endoscopy test.  I originally had an appointment with my ENT that day anyways.

A week and a half after my barium swallow test, I had to do the endoscopy to check further into my esophagus for muscle issues or any tissue problems within it.  This was interesting and I'm not sure if it's in a good way or a bad way.  Just thinking about it makes my one nostril hurt and the back of my throat taste like metal again.  Pretty much I had to eat and drink different things with different textures and sizes to see the reaction of my muscles while there's a tube with a camera on the end of it that went through my nose and pushed down my throat.  The one performing this was happy that Justin was there to help feed me.  Some of the foods I was not pleased to see on the table: applesauce and fruit.  Of course, my usual swallow issues never kicked in, but she said my muscles looked really good for my age and I didn't have acid reflux (my mother and my brother has this).

I was sent back into the waiting room to now wait for my ENT appointment that was 30 mins after the test, but was able to get in sooner.  We sat in the room that we were taken into by his nurse and waited for my doctor to come in.  I was trying to remain calm as I waited and also hoped that the test actually had results instead of having to do the biopsy again.  Oh how I hope I did not to have to do that again.  But then my doctor came into the room with some woman, I forgot now who she was, but I knew something was up.  Most of what happened in the room is now foggy to me, but I do remember him telling me I have cancer and that I will need to have surgery. 

Like I said in my other post I researched a lot on the cancers of thyroid, so I knew a good amount on it.  I think that's why I wasn't crying, but also I think I was also still in shock over it.  27 years old and having to deal with cancer.  Luckily with thyroid cancer there is a high survival rate, but still.  Cancer. It was just... wow.  Even right now I still can't believe it that I have cancer at such a "young" age.  I remember looking at my boyfriend and laughed a little saying, "First one.  First one in the family to get."

After that my doctor took me to his secretary to schedule my appointment for October 2nd (it was later moved back a day since another patient needed a 12 hour surgery), which was only a week and a half away.  I couldn't believe it... I still can't believe it. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today is the first Thanksgiving without my thyroid and still getting adjusted to my medicine increase that started on Tuesday (going from 125 to 175mg), which has been taking a toll on my emotional state.  I spent about a half hour crying in the bedroom due to how the medicine makes me feel.  I also snapped at Justin (my boyfriend) over the stupidest thing ever...  but anyways.  We made three different kinds of chicken that were all so yummy:  Garlic Cornflakes Chicken, Funyun Chicken, and Captain Crunch Chicken.  We were about to make a french toast cinnamon roll dish thing, but turns out we don't have cinnamon, so going to run to the store.

I have much to be thankful this year and I don't think words are enough to thank the people in my life.  I am thankful for my parents, my boyfriend, and his parents for coming to the hospital when I was having my surgery.  Also thankful for my parents for coming up to where I live and spending a week with me, especially my dad who was supposed to leave Wednesday, but stayed an extra day (my surgery was moved back a day).  I am thankful for my friends to let me talk and rant to them about the things I was and still am going through.  Thankful to have siblings that truly do care about me.  Thankful to be part of a great family.

Much thanks to the ones that have donated to me, so I can pay for some of my medicals bills and also to the others that shared my link for the donation page.  It has helped me greatly.

I'm thankful for facebook support groups like Thyroid Cancer Awareness, Support Thyroid Cancer, and Thyroid Disease Awareness.  These pages are full of great people that help each other understand what's going on with others, answer questions, and provide great information.  I highly recommend them to anyone that is having thyroid issues.

I can't stop thanking Justin, the love of my life, for being there for me and never leaving my side throughout all of this.  Some people wouldn't want to deal with something like this for long and would just leave, especially when the medicine makes you seem impossible to deal with.

Anyone that's in my life, thank you for staying in it.  It might not seem much to you, but it means a great deal to me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I love you all dearly!

The First Appointment

After getting my results from the ultrasound, my doctor told me to find myself an ENT (Ears, Nose, and Throat) doctor also known as Otolaryngology to find out what the next stop was, though I would soon find out that would take awhile.  Originally my family doctor told me to go to one ENT group from the area, but I had gone to them a year prior, but was not impressed by them.  So I went to search for a new one and I never knew how hard it would be to find a decent specialist in my area.  I also learned it would be hard to get in fast until now.

I spent at least two full days searching online for an ENT nearby that had good reviews.  I didn't want to find another doctor that didn't listen to me and told me nothing was wrong (I had this happen to me many times including a time when I had a cyst the size of a softball in my back).  I called UC Hospital for an appointment with one of their ENTs, but sadly my first choice would have been a two month wait.  I told the one over the phone I couldn't wait since I was having issues breathing, swallowing, four nodules, and a slightly enlarged thyroid.  Luckily I was able to get an appointment with my second choice three weeks later on August 27th.

For three weeks I kept researching online what could be wrong with me...  I have an aunt with Hashimoto's and we thought maybe I had that, so I kept cross referencing with her symptoms and mine as well as what I found on the internet.  I don't know why, but I had a feeling to look into Thyroid Cancer and their symptoms, it just kept drawing me in.  My family and my boyfriend all told me that it's probably not that and not to worry about it too much.  Though eventually my mom and I agreed it wouldn't hurt to know to just prepare myself.  I didn't wanna go dramatic if my doctor told me the news and I could think straight to ask him any questions I had.

The first day I went to see my doctor I was surprised  how young he was, probably a few years older than me.  He asked what was going on and I told him, I also had the ultrasound report with me.  Of course, he asked if there were any thyroid issues in the family and I told him about my aunt.  Then he asked about cancer of the gland and the answer was no, but I did warn him that anyone that cancer in my family are the first ones of that type.  He did a fine-needle biopsy on the largest nodule stabbing my neck four times, the last two being the worse.  He also wanted to run blood tests on me to see what my levels were like and then do a barium swallow test and an endoscopy because of my swallowing issue. I've been having the issue with the swallowing most of my life, so he thought this could be something different from the nodules and the breathing issue.

Now began the waiting game and the testing phase of this whole thing...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Something's Wrong

My journey all started when the last weekend of July 2012 when I was having difficulty breathing for the first time in my life.  It was hard to describe as I knew it wasn't a chest/lung issue, but something blocking in my neck.  Also I was having more difficulties with swallowing food and liquids, but I've had that issue more of my life.  Well actually the difficulty with liquids, even water, started about five years ago and anytime I experience it, it felt like the liquid in question formed into a marble, which made me refer to it now as the "marble effect".

Anyways, the breathing issue was driving me insane... like drowning and trying to swim to the surface, but unable to since *thinks* a log  has trapped your leg.  You are fighting to breathe, but unable to push the log off, so you can get free.  I finally decided to call my doctor, but wasn't able to get in until later in the week and the breathing got worse as time went on that day, so my boyfriend took me to the hospital.  They checked my chest by listening to it, ran blood test claiming they were checking my thyroid with the testing as well, and then x-ray my neck since I found a large lump on my neck (I noticed this while we were driving to the hospital).  At first the one doctor said that might be normal for me, but I told him it wasn't and that it was new.  They gave me a breathe therapy treatment where you breathe in this vapors from a hose connected to a machine... yeah, it didn't help at all.  They said everything came back fine, but I should ask my family doctor to order an ultrasound on my neck.

I ended up getting an appointment with my family doctor on August 3rd, 2012 in the morning and told her what happened at the hospital and what I was dealing with.  She gave me two options: one, to do the ultrasound or two, to see if my esophagus needed to be widen.  I, of course, voted for the ultrasound and was able to go to the town over to get it done the same day.  A week later I got the email from my doctor that the left side of my thyroid was enlarged with a nodule that was an inch in size and three smaller (5mm, 7mm, and 9mm) nodules on the right with all different makes.

Now let me tell you, 90% of people have nodules and most are not noticeable and aren't cancerous (and not all will become cancerous).  But if you have one that's 1 cm in size, you need to get an ENT to do a fine-needle biopsy.  Also if you have a nodule, even if it's small, get it checked every once in a while... like every six months (you can get your family doctor to order the ultrasound for you... it's cheaper that way).  If it gets bigger in size get an ENT to look at it.  To note, my largest nodule was 2.5 cm when I found it.

This was just the beginning of a major change in my life.

Weclome to the Butterfree Effect

No, this blog isn't about the Pokemon Butterfree or Pokemon in general and also it's not about recipes that are butter free or a butter free diet.  What is this blog about then?  It's about my life and my dealings of not having a thyroid.  The butterfree (butterfly) name of my blog comes from how they claim the thyroid looks like a butterfly and since the removal of the gland can have a huge effect on one's life... well you know, the butterfly effect?  Since the url name for ButterflyEffect was taken among others, I figured I play with the name and go with Butterfree since I'm free of the gland since it was removed on October 3rd, 2012.  Also that and I grew up on "Pokemans" and other anime shows.

To start off I'm only 27 years old... I know, young, right?  Too young to have cancer in most people's opinions, but it does happen.  And this is something I clearly learned on September 17th, 2012 when I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and scheduled for Total Thyroidectomy (the removal of the whole gland).  Remember the episode of Ash letting his Butterfree go, so it can mate with the Pink Butterfree.  Ash knew it was for the best for his Butterfree, but it was still painful, upsetting, and sad to let his friend go.  Well, that's how I felt about my thyroid.  I knew it was best for me and my body to let go of my thyroid (and well for my thyroid too), but it was still painful and upsetting for me.  Though sadly for Ash he can't replace his treasured friend and first caught Pokemon as Caterpie, but I can replace my thyroid with a pill.

This blog will be about me dealing with cancer while still trying to function with a normal life... like going to college, work, my family and friends, love life, and, of course, my doctor's appointments.  I will also talk about the beginning, how I first noticed a problem and also possible warning signs that I missed.  What I have learned about this cancer and issues I will properly have to deal with now and in the future.

This blog may bore some people, but it might also help people in their dealings of the cancer and know they are not alone with the pain, anger, and frustration of this disease.  It might also help people notice they might need to go check theirs out, it doesn't hurt to check something like this as it's just a blood test.