My husband and I had just moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest with our six kids. In the midst of all the chaos my oldest daughter began suffering with daily headaches and I was plagued with a neck ache. It hurt to sleep, it hurt to stand, it hurt to sit with this nagging pain. We found a chiropractor in the new neighborhood and began going several times a week for adjustments.
In October 2004, after one of the treatments, I was massaging my relieved neck when I found it.
It was just a little lump.
Just a tiny little lump on the upper right side of my neck.
I showed my husband and we began the daily task of feeling the lump. It grew over time.
I found a primary care physician. She felt the lump and called for a sonogram.They found a second lump on the thyroid. My journey had officially begun.
At the beginning of December I had a neck CT, which led to a fine-needle aspiration biopsy in January. It came back negative. Doubtful, my doctor sent me to an Endocrinologist and an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). She didn’t want me to give up. She only said, “I’m just not comfortable. There are two lumps for a reason.”
The first ENT I visited blew me off after a quick check to my neck. She said she couldn’t even find the lump. She suggested coming back every six months.
When my Endocrinologist repeated this to me I was a bit annoyed.
“Even my husband can find it! He checks it every day to see if it has grown, or if it is throbbing.”
Sarcastically he said, “Oh, is your husband a doctor?”
“No, and that is exactly my point. If he isn’t a doctor and he can find it, she should be able to.”
I found a new ENT, he was able to find the lump. Each step took so long because it was hard to get in as a new patient to so many different doctors. Sometimes I had to wait 6-8 weeks just for the next appointment.
By the time my Endocrinologist took me seriously and did his own biopsy on my neck it was May.
On the way to find the results of the second biopsy, I pulled out of my driveway and was immediately filled with the Presence of the Lord. It was a surreal peace and comfort, the kind you read about in books. Bible verses I had previously memorized began flooding my mind, “I am with thee and will keep thee in all places, sayeth the Lord,” and “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
At that moment, I knew I had cancer. I also knew that I would not be on the journey alone. When I had trusted Christ as my Saviour at 18, I had committed to Him my entire heart, mind, soul and body. I was not about to rescind any part of that committment despite the circumstances.
The lumps turned out to be papillary thyroid carcinoma that had metasticized. A total thyroidectomy and a radical neck dissection were performed June 2005 in a six hour surgery. Only 1 of the 30 lymph nodes had cancer. The doctors thought the 100 mCi’s dose of radioactive iodine in August would be the final step in my treatment.
In September I found new little lumps. Just little tiny lumps that my fingertips discovered when doing my ritual “neck-check.” My journey wasn’t over.
They watched and waited and watched and waited. In April 2009 they went back in for another surgery for those little lumps.
In October 2009 I was declared in remission.
In January 2010 my sonogram revealed – you guessed it –
These little, less than a centimeter lumps are unwanted invaders, a cancer that cannot be conquered. The testing this time eliminated radioactive iodine as a treatment, because my body did not take in the tracer dose given. Surgery is not an encouraged at this time because you can only have so many neck surgeries in a lifetime, and I have already used two of my options.
So, we watch, we wait and we hope and pray they don’t grow.
Because they’re just little lumps of papillary thyroid carcinoma.