You know how when it rains, it pours?
My twins graduated and moved to two universities in the United States of America.
My husband remained in Djibouti to run our start-up, the International School of Djibouti.
My singleton, the youngest, returned to Kenya for school.
I stayed in MN to be close by while the older two transition to this country and new phase of life.
We recently made some organizational readjustments that were positive and complicated and also, to be honest, difficult, as most changes are.
Parenting adult kids is really hard, harder than I thought.
I turned in my book manuscript this week.
And then, I recently bought this:
Why is a pile of sugary goodness on this list of challenges and changes?
Because I labeled it:
Because I bought it a few hours after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Me, for whom health is a high value. Who takes doctor appointments and nutrition seriously, who loves to run because it makes me feel strong. Who was strict about natural family planning as birth control because I didn’t want to take hormones or pills. That person has cancer and will go on hormone therapy for the rest of her life.
I talked to my mother-in-law a few hours after the doctor’s phone call. She and my father-in-law are nurses, he was a cancer nurse. I asked what I needed to think about. She said,
“Today, you need to think: Shit. I have cancer. Tomorrow, you can ask questions.”
I took her advice literally and headed straight out to the grocery store for candy and ice cream.
A second biopsy on a suspicious lymph node. (*biopsy came back clean)
Then, surgery, removal of my whole thyroid and the monstrously large lump attached to it. We are trying to come up with a nickname for the beast but I’m revolted by all the family’s suggestions so far.
I don’t know yet.
I’ll try to keep writing. I’ll try not to write all the time about cancer, Lord knows there’s enough of that out there for you to read elsewhere. But I might because, Lord knows that’s what’s on my mind (and in my neck) these days.
I plan on being just fine.
But, my hope is not in odds or doctors or my own body.
I don’t rely on human plans, not even my own.
This is what some people call a “good” cancer, which means it is fairly treatable. I gotta say, I’m not ready to claim that yet. While I am thankful for many things (that there is treatment, that I’m here in the US for this time period, that I don’t feel sick at this point), it is still cancer. And cancer sucks. Cancer combined with an international life super sucks. The treatment will be hard, the disruption to our life will be hard, the future slightly foggy.
May I suggest a more appropriate response, if someone (like me) tells you they have thyroid cancer? Don’t say, “Well, lucky you, you got the good one!” Just say, “Shit. You have cancer. I’m so sorry.” Feel free to modify to “shoot” or “gosh darn” or whatever floats your boat.
I’ll let you know how all this pans out in the coming months.