Four years ago today, at 5:00 a.m., I sat in the pre-op waiting room of my hospital’s cancer center, clutching a stuffed animal and sobbing. I was about to have my first major surgery – a surgery for a condition we weren’t sure I had. The surgeon gave me one more opportunity to cancel the surgery because he was confident it wasn’t cancer, and I was certain it was. All morning, countless doctors, residents, interns, and nurses came and went in a blur. Sign this form, sign that form, will you donate your thyroid to research?, if you don’t stop crying we’re going to have to sedate you, this is how the robotics are going to go in your throat and remove the right half, etc, etc.
Part of the reason I knew it was cancer, and I was so terrified is because there seems to be a bit of a curse on my life. It seems that every four years, my world falls apart in October. In October 2000, my grandfather died. In October 2004, my mother passed away. And here it was, October 2008. Yeah, doc, tell me again that it’s not cancer. That morning I woke up with a feeling that I was going to die during surgery, so when the anesthesiologist came in, I went into a full on freak out of epic proportions.
My freak out was semi justified. When the surgery was over, I was in a special recovery room, with multiple nurses surrounding me. They kept waiving smelling salts over me, and pleading me to wake up/stay with them/come back. The surgery was a success but I was hospitalized for two days because of my reaction to anesthesia. And a month later, I was told I had cancer and a second surgery was scheduled.
Last night, my friends and I had an amazing celebration of four years of survivorship. Today is a day of quiet reflection on how life has changed in the last four years. Next week, I will be at the ThyCa conference, where the cancerversary celebration really starts.