Now Emerges A Fearless Butterfly
(Written by Chris P, Thyroid Cancer Patient)
Is thyroid cancer killing me or is it saving my life?, , Since I do not work, I have a lot of time to think about this, probably too much time. Shortly after being diagnosed, my fledgling marriage fell apart, my diabetes went out of control, and the world that I built for myself came crumbling down around my feet.
But is this a good thing?, By battling cancer, did I save myself from a future that would only be filled with a lifetime of heartbreak instead of just short-term heartache?, Did being diagnosed only six months into my marriage save me from starting a family with the wrong man?, Did cancer shut the door only to open a window for me down the road?
I have changed, physically and emotionally. There is no doubt about it, and if I ever think it hasn’t, there are numerous people who will tell me it has Ã¢â‚¬” some who think for the better and plenty who think for the worse. Some have told me that I’ve gone crazy since going through radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment and that I’ve ruined my life; others have told me I finally see the world for what it is and that I’m stronger now than ever.
I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost weight, and I’ve gained some of it back. I currently weigh ten pounds more than I did on my wedding day, which is far less than the thirty pounds I originally put on. Even my jewelry has changed:, I wear three thyroid cancer bracelets, a diamond cancer ribbon around my neck, and my newest piece arrived today a butterfly charm with the word “survivor” on the back a present from my best friend.
I’ve changed my hair with every milestone in my cancer journey, or rather the hair I still have thanks to Synthroid. Every day is spent cleaning up handfuls of hair that have fallen out from the simple, mundane tasks of washing it and brushing it. Heaven forbid I try to style it because it falls out as rapidly as my dog sheds her winter coat.
I’ve lost friends, and I’ve made new ones. I take risks and chances that people tell me are foolish, but I feel the need to try these new endeavors because life is too short to live with regrets. Is this new flying by the seat of my pants attitude smart or stupid?, Either way, isn’t it better than being cooped up in a tiny apartment with a man who doesn’t treat you the way you should be treated?
I want to learn new things. I want to live my life. There is a laundry list a mile long of things I have never done because I was always told I shouldn’t or because I was too afraid to try. Now, all I want to do is set and conquer. No one seems to understand this, and I’m constantly told to slow down, to stop and think. Well, that’s how I’ve lived the first 29 years of my life and look where it got me:, a short starter marriage and cancer. Playing by the rules has not paid off for me yet so I’ve decided to throw the rulebook out.
My whole life until now has been lived in fear of the unknown. I refuse to continue to say “I can’t “I don’t know howÃ¢â‚¬ or “I’m scared…, I want to look the world in the eye, throw back my shoulders and say, “bring it on…, I have learned that as long as you try and give it your best, you cannot fail even if you don’t succeed.
Yet, no one seems to understand my new philosophy. I can understand my friends who have never faced serious illness being hesitant and concerned, but even my friends who have battled cancer raise an eyebrow to my newfound sense of freedom. I often think it’s because all of them are in remission. Their battles were short and quick. Mine has involved three surgeries, countless complications, endless bad news with very little good, and it never seems to end. My cancer is growing, my cancer is spreading and I often wonder if it’s because I played by the rules.
Holidays 2008, nine months into my marriage and fresh from surgery number two, I had to make a difficult decision and make it quickly. How much RAI was I going to take?, Did I take a large dose that could potentially interfere with my ability to start a family some day?, Or did I play it safe and take a small dose that the doctors ensured would be effective without the harmful side effects?, Hoping that my marital problems could be overcome, I played it safe. I took the low dose. And guess what?, Although the cancer was initially reduced, it never went away and now it’s growing.
So call me a renegade. Call me a fool. But I watched cancer kill a life so desperately struggled for: my own.
So maybe like the butterfly we are represented by, I have shed my cocoon of innocence and am learning to soar on an entirely different plane in the same world I was living in before.
Chris P (Team, Wings of Hope)