There are so many things I’ve experience & realized & learned in these past two years. Here’s a few of them.
1. The human body is a freakin’ miracle.
I had my thyroid and three lymph nodes removed two years ago. I went through three rounds of radioactive iodine. I’ve had 5-6 ultrasounds, a full body scan, approx. one billion vials of blood drawn and countless appointments. I take 16 pills of calcium and perscription vitamin-D daily (and will likely have to for the rest of my life). I take a little tiny pill that’s supposed to replicate my biological gland daily. I’ll need to monitor my levels every 3 months for the next few years; hopefully moving to six months after five years.
And my body is a freakin’ miracle.
Seriously. If you think about it, it’s amazing that each of us survive every day. The way that we can think and move and breath and function. The things we put our bodies through, what we do to them, the fact that we spend so much time nit-picking at them – it’s pointless. It really is. Even with all the issues that I’ve had, I’m consistently amazed by my own body. With one less valve in my heart than “normal” and a missing gland, it still lets me move & think every minute of the day.
2. You’re the only one that can make yourself happy.
Sure, your partner, family, friends and other people can contribute to this, but you are the only one that can control your mood/thoughts/actions/desires. It’s up to you. Don’t blame anyone else, no matter how pissed off or at fault they are. You have so much more control than you think.
3. There is nothing fair about life.
I know this sounds really cynical, but that’s not my intention. Things happen. To everyone. Your bad is someone else’s good. Your good is someone else’s bad. You can’t rationalize it. You can’t say “I’m a good person, therefore bad things won’t happen to me.” It doesn’t work like that. We don’t know why things happen to us – some people think it’s fate or it’s all random. Some people think there’s a lesson to be learned from everything. Cancer has taught me that everyone (and I mean everyone) has something they’re dealt with that changes they way they look at fairness. It doesn’t do me any good to be angry about the cards that I’ve been dealt with. I can only accept it. There’s literally no other way to move on.
I read a book by Geneen Roth last May, and this passage really stuck with me, about accepting the hard things:
“The answer to “I have no idea how I’m going to get through this” is this: you allow yourself to sob, to heave, to feel as if your heart has a boulder crashing through it. You get help from your friends. And you notice that at the end of every day you are still alive. That feeling anything, even grief, is different from what you thought it would be. That when you don’t leave yourself, a different life is lived. One that includes vulnerability and tenderness and fragility and changes the landscape – makes it verdant, wider, breath taking – of life as you know it. As long as I believe that pain is bigger than me, as long as I define being open and vulnerable as being vulnerable to annihilation, I believe in an image of myself: that I am someone who can be annihilated. That’s called living in hell: refusing to love because you want the end game to be different than it is.”
4. You will be okay.
I know people find my blog by searching on Google for thyroid cancer. I’ve had many emails and tweets and messages from people who are going through the same thing. If there’s any point to this post, it’s this: There WILL be a day when you realize you haven’t thought about cancer at all. Then it will become two days, then three, then a week. Then maybe a month. And one day you’ll realize you can’t even remember the date of your surgery, or exactly what the doctor told you, or that you’re not so angry anymore. And you’ll realize you’re okay. Your life is never going to be the same – but it can better than it was before in a lot of ways.
I know you don’t believe me. That’s okay – I never would have believed me two years ago. But it’s true. You will be.