Thursday, May 8, 2008

365 Days Sans a Thyroid

A year ago today I had my thyroid and his buddy, the tumor, removed. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year! I can finally go out in the sun and not worry about protecting my scar! I NEVER thought I’d be able to make it 12 months! (Ok I knew I could do it, but I just wanted to complain.) In fact I’m going out to buy one of those foil sun thingies right now! Just kidding. I will probably continue to protect my neck to help prevent sun damage…I would like to be sans wrinkles as well!

After all of my medical procedures to get rid of the cancer, the total bill was around $55,000. I think my surgery alone was about $40,000. Isn’t that outrageous? I don’t recall having to pay any of that, but near the end our insurance did change and we did have to pay $600. At least we didn’t have to pay more!

After my surgery my doctor started me on 150 mcg of Synthorid, and then proceeded to give me a higher doseage to see how my body reacted. After bout 4 different doses he brought me back down to 150. The pill is only a pain on the weekends. (Did I ever mention that I have to take the pill on an empty stomach and then wait an hour to eat after I take it?) If I wake up a few hours before I actually get up, and remember to take the pill, then it’s no prob. It’s just a pain on the days when I don’t wake up early, and then I have to wait to eat. John is nice enough to wait with me and not eat in front of me.

During my 9 month check up I was told that I won't have to take another radiation pill like they thought! New developments have already occurred in this medical field saying that I don’t need it. So that is good news! I will have to get some THS, (thyroid-stimulating hormone), shots in September and then they will test my thyroglobulin levels…a.k.a. get some blood work done. The hormones tell my body to produce thyroid cells, so hopefully when I get the blood work done there will be no sign of any left in my body. Should be pretty harmless, but I will have to go on the low-iodine diet again. It won't be too bad. I think after that I will just have to get blood work done yearly…not 100% sure though.

A few months ago I also attend the Thyroid Cancer Support Group here in SLO. It was really neat to meet other ladies who have gone through the same thing. One lady had recently had her surgery and was getting ready to get her radiation pill the following week. It was her first time at the meeting as well, so right after we introduced our selves, she said ‘so I suppose we should compare scars.’

‘Wow yours is BIG!’ I replied.

‘Well I had a full thyroidectomy,’ she said in a very defensive/polite voice.

‘Well so did I,‘ I said.

It wasn’t until later that John informed that it probably wasn’t the best thing to say to her, but I totally spoke without thinking!! I was just in total shock to see a scare that was almost twice the size of mine. However I should have realized that she was still self conscience about it since she was wearing a turtleneck in 85 degree weather!

One interesting thing I did find out is that they don’t administer the radiation pills in SLO anymore. Patients have to drive down to Santa Barbara to get them! Isn’t that terrible? The newbie had to go off her meds for two weeks before getting the pill, (when you do that you aren’t supposed to drive), so her husband had to drive her down to SB. On the way back she had to sit in the way back of their car on the ride home trying not to expose him to the radiation. So lame!

I have yet to make it back for another meeting, but I need to go. All the ladies were really nice, and it was nice to give helpful tips to the newer lady.

In other news…I’m growing my hair out to donate it to beautiful lengths! Last year I was feeling bad that I hadn’t done anything positive to support cancer research or cancer survivors. I thought I would be more motivated to do something as I was now part of the cancer survivor club, but nope…nothing. I had no desire to do anything until I saw Hilary Swank donate her hair on Oprah. I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment and knew that is how I was going to give back. I had already been growing out my hair for my sister’s wedding, so why not grow it out a few more inches? I think the last time my hair was this long I was in kindergarten. I am very excited to donate it and am also getting excited to have a new short do. I’ve been keeping my eye out for cute styles, but I hope the styles are still in by the time I decide to cut it. I’m thinking I only have a few more months to go. (Don’t worry…of course I will post before and after photos)!

You know I was really bummed that I didn’t write up an entry about my surgery. I had planned on it, but totally didn’t feel like it. I still kind of want to do it, but what can I really remember a year later? (I actually just checked my blog archive and found John's summary of the surgery, which I think was really good.)

One thing I do remember is all of the wonderful cards and flowers from you all. That meant/means so much to me even now. I’m sure I thanked most of you last year, but just in case I wanted to thank you again for all your kind words and prayers. It’s a great feeling to know what great family and friends I have even in the midst of a hard time.

I will leave you with a before and after scar photo. I really should have taken one every month to watch the progression of it healing. I totally blew it!

Here is a photo I posted about a month after surgery:

Here is a photo from 5 minutes ago:

I didn't even realize how good it looked until I put the photos side by side!

Side Note: I just started the BBQ and nothing caught on fire. I lit it with a lighter tonight, as it was obvious the the ignitor is not working. I did stand as far away from it as I could, but the sound of it igniting it did make me jump! This chicken better be worth it!


Nathan and Emily said...

Oh my goodness Amber, I had no idea. I am so amazed by you. I can't imagine how you must have been felling throughout all of this but I am so impressed about how proactive you are being now. Seriously I wouldn't even have seen your scar if it didn't have a close up. God Bless You Sweetie!

Judy S said...

Hey, Amber! It looks like that scar is pretty much
history. Great news!

I made an unscheduled detour to "the other Amber Grundman's" blog. Kind of weirded me out to see how many things you have in common with her!

Sarah said...

I'm a little sad for you because to you THS means thyroid-stimulating hormone where to the rest of the world it obviously means True Hollywood Story. Your life will never be the same.

Seriously, you've come a long way. I won't even be able to see your scar when we finally meet at Safeway in Fortuna during some random holiday.

Anonymous said...

You can barely see the scar! That is great. :) Sarah V.

Mauleigh said...

Congradulations! Here's to good health and being cancer free for all the years to come!!

Maggie said...