Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A journal for myself

I am Kathleen and I have cancer.  Thyroid cancer.  Well, technically I don't know that for sure.  I know I have cancer.  We just have not gotten the pathology report back that will tell us that it is thyroid cancer and all the information about it.  But see, I haven't seen an oncologist yet, so I don't even know the terms that are appropriate.  I mean does thyroid cancer have stages?  Levels?  I don't know.  All I know is that when they aspirated the 388cc's of fluid from my pulmonary area (I am not sure if it was in the pleural area or in the actual lung) they found malignant cells that originated in a reproductive organ (that is cool in itself that they can tell me that much).   They ran Ultrasounds inside and out and CTscans on the area where my ovaries and uterus had been and that was clear.  Then they checked my pancreases.  It came out clean also (oh thank goodness!!!) so the next place to check was the thyroid.  And well that is really sort of where the story of this adventure began.  

You see I am a person that likes to be busy.  Ok, very busy.  And a little over 3 months ago or so on a Friday night.  I just stopped.  It in April and was the Altrusa Nun Bingo and I was playing the part of Sister Mary Mime.  I wear a white face with my habit and I don't talk.  I have a pad and pen and write notes back and forth.  I start out with, "I took a vow of silence, but some say it went very wrong"  I have to tell you that makes people laugh every time.  Well, since I am writing this for me, I have no problem that I meander around a thought.  Anyway, I just didn't feel right, you know?  I couldn't say what was wrong, I just didn't feel right.  The next day I worked with Jack and Jan and Pat on the prop/costume room at the Opera House in the morning, and felt ok, but "odd".  The next day I gardened and tried to well, push through it.  

This was week 7 of the walking competition.  I am in a team of four with Janak as our Captain and Geeta, his wife, Patricia from the Seed Lab and myself.  We all work for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  And week 7 and 8 are very important.  There were other teams breathing down our neck.  We needed to push as many miles each as possible.  But as I did my walk on my morning break I was struggling with a pulled muscle in my upper left shoulder.  The next day it was worse and by Wednesday I was very uncomfortable.  I would even say I was in pain.  So I went to the doctor.  Sweet Ms Moon had been trying to get me to slow down for months and had said like the week before that she was worried about me and wanted me to slow down.  Ms Moon is the most wonderful nurturing person anyone has ever met.  She is sweet and loving and caring and if she loves you, she will do just about anything for you.  She is amazing.  But everyone who reads Bless Our Hearts already knows that.  

Anyway, so I go to see my Doc.  He does a chest X-ray and is amazed that I have pleurisy and fluid on my lungs.  He told me he was not comfortable with the amount of fluid on my lungs.  I laughed and said, "You are not comfortable with the amount of fluid?  Well then you can imagine how uncomfortable I am!"  He got it.  So he gave me an anti-inflammatory and sent me home.  Normally I don't go to see the doctor until I am almost well.  So I didn't think anything about going home.  A week later, I am not any better.  So I go back, another chest X-ray, exactly the same.  So the doc orders a CT scan, this is almost May now and I have to make a couple of trips out of town, so it takes a bit before I can get an appointment.  But I do and it comes back that I have nodules on my thyroid and lungs with yes, fluid on my left lung.  So the doc refers me to a pulmonary specialist.  So a few more weeks and I go to my appointment with Sweet Ms Moon.

The doctor looks at the reports and asks a few questions.  In his picture he sort of looks like he is related to Dick Cheney, not a confidence booster for me or Ms Moon.  But in person he just looks like a typical white man doctor.  He is intelligent and articulate and very logical thinker.  All good things for a doctor.  So now he starts to tell me the possibilities.  First possibility is a bacterial infection or a viral infection.  The second possibility, and I stop him.  I ask if it is possible to start with the best case scenario instead of the worst case scenario.  He stops and looks at me.  And then says, "OK"  writes a script for antibiotics and for some blood work, then sets an appointment for me to come back in 2 weeks.  

So 2 weeks go by and I spend 7 of the 10 days and the meds staring down into porcelain.  Not pretty.  But by the end of the 14 days, I feel better.  Really.  I feel remarkably better.  Maybe it is because I am not on the antibiotics anymore.  Maybe I had a bacterial infection some where.  I don't know. I just know I felt better for the first time in like 6 weeks.  I will take what I can get.

So back to the Specialist.  Whine some more.  He orders more blood work, another CTscan and more chest X-rays.  Everything comes back, basically the same.  I am not getting better.  

The Specialist comes in, bless his heart, and sits across from me and wheels his little rolling stool up to me and keeps patting my knees and looking down.  Finally he gives it to me straight. No more looking for the least case scenario, we are going straight to the worse case scenario.  Thyroid cancer that has spread to my lungs.


  1. Ugh.
    I'm so glad you're blogging.
    Hi Kathleen, I know and love you from Mary's.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Thinking of you.

  2. Thanks for reaching out Kathy.

    "So I am just going to take each day, whether happy super maniac Tuesday or menacholy Monday, I am just going to enoy which ever trip I wake up on."

    Sounds like good advice for us all. Add me to the list of friends following your journey.