2+ Years

It’s been 2 years and 3 months since I first found out I had a tumor. It’s been a long 2+ years of tests, worrying, scares… and in a few minutes or days I will find out if it is truly gone. Of course, it will never be 100% gone, it will only, hopefully, be held at bay and never threaten my life again.

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I’d like to say since that day 2+ years ago, I’ve become a better person. Sometimes I think that because I have had cancer I am expected to be nicer, kinder, more patient. I should accept everyone as they are, I should forgive all because I don’t know how long I have. I should smile more because my life could end any day. I should just be happy I’m alive and not care about things that used to fill my thoughts and worries and dreams.

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But as many who have had cancer or have faced other life threatening moments can attest, that’s not the way it works.

Sometimes I feel that since I had cancer, since I stared death in the face, my emotions get the best of me. I want to love harder, to be that perfect friend, daughter, sister, lover. I also want everyone around me to be the perfect friend, parent, sibling, and lover too. Life is too short to be anything but perfect, right? Wrong. This want makes me a cruel perfectionist, and since it’s incredibly hard for myself and anyone else to be perfect, I feel more disappointment than anything. 

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I think, for the new year, my goal will be to accept that I cannot be perfect, and the people close to me cannot be perfect either. I cannot smile all the time, I cannot look perfect or act perfect or be a perfect person to everyone in my life. Nor can they be perfect for me all the time. I can, however, do my best, every day, to remember to enjoy the little things, imperfect as they may be… because in the darkest of moments in your life, you realize those are the big things.

Here’s to a more forgiving, smiling, promising 2013… 

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4 notes

#thyroid cancer

#cancer

#vegan

#perfectionist

#smile

#forgive

There are some days I don’t even remember I had it. After a while, it’ll be the same for you.

Encouraging words from a friend who went through breast cancer a few years back.

2 notes

greeengrouch-deactivated2013060

Hey, I just saw a post of yours on thyroid cancer and was wondering what your symptoms were? How did you find out you had it, maybe a ct scan or biopsy?

Hi there - believe it or not I had no obvious symptoms, I found out I had it when I went for my physical and the doc felt (and then saw) a lump in my neck. In retrospect, I was feeling more and more tired the year prior, but I thought it was stress. Some of the symptoms my doc told me I could have had aside from the lump were pain when I swallowed or in that area of my throat (because the tumor could press on other things in the area), parathyroid malfunctioning, or thyroid malfunctioning. I’m sure there are others but I can’t remember them right now. I hope this helps!

2011-2012

In the last year I:

…lost a thyroid + 12 lymph nodes to cancer

…got a new not-so-sexy scar on my neck :(

…had 2 rounds of radiation

…had 4 PET scans

…have been extraordinarily thankful for health insurance

…but still ran out of my HSA by mid year due to so many doc visits

…got used to the idea of having to take a pill every morning

…(still) getting used to the idea that if I ever stop exercising and eating right, extreme weight gain will happen INSTANTLY due to my SSM (stupid synthetic metabolism)

…read several nutrition books & watched some amazing nutrition related documentaries

    

…got certified in Plant Based Nutrition by Cornell University

…decided to fight cancer with nutrition by eating a plant based diet

…started to love cooking again

         

…took healthy cooking classes at Blum Center for Health and LOVED them

…still found time for my favorite beverages :)

   

…tried (in vain) to get my family to eat healthier with me (work in progress!!!!!)

…was lucky enough to be with someone open to eating the way I do when at home <3

…was lucky enough to get engaged to that person too!!! <3 <3 <3

…found that shopping trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joes were like heaven to me and hell for my wallet

…got to know and learn from a lot of other people who care about nutrition

…got to know and learn from a lot of other people who have fought cancer and won (and in some cases are still fighting)

…learned that even when going through the most difficult moments of your life, people will still disappoint you

…learned that when going through the most difficult moments of your life, others will surprise you by how much they care and how far they are willing to go for you, making the ones who disappointed you matter much less

…got a new job

 ————————> 

…went to Florida, San Diego, and Fishers Island 

    

…went kayaking for the 2nd time (and didn’t fall over!!)

…had 3 family reunions and survived all of them

…ran 3 5ks

     

…got my mom to walk/run 1 of them with me!

…and on December 30th, 2011, was declared CANCER FREE :) :) :) :) :)

6 notes

#thyroid cancer

#radiation

#pet scan

#rai 131

#i-131

#spread to lymph nodes

#Levoxyl

#Synthroid

#cancer free

#china study

#plant based nutrition

#cornell

#colin campbell

#running

#5ks

#florida

#san diego

#fishers island

#whole foods

#trader joes

#engaged

#blum wellness center

#blum kitchen

#beauty detox solution

#rawvolution

#plant based diet

#synthetic metabolism

Isolation -> Round 2

I have several awesome humans in my life who I’d LOVE to have with me over my next 24 hour isolation period… HOWEVER, if you love your dog like I do, you will forgive me when I say that I miss my dog the most! Even when your favorite humans aren’t around, your dog usually is, so having her not with me is the most glaring discrepancy in my day. :(

I wish I got her this space suit so she could snooggle with me tonight <3

14 notes

#isolation

#radiation

#i-131

#RAI

#radioactive iodine

#lonely

#thyroid cancer

Day 2

First experience with thyrogen - NO idea what to expect. Went to work yesterday after my first shot and definitely regretted it. As the day went on I felt like a train slowly shutting down and breaking apart - I couldn’t hold anything (including a conversation) properly - I even had to have help filling up my glass of water because I couldn’t keep my grip! FAIL! The most amusing part? My radiologist tech telling me that morning that I wouldn’t feel a THING all day. Today when I went in and politely informed him that I had felt LOTS of things, he says “oh yea, well on day 2 you definitely won’t feel anything.” Right. I believe you buddy… as much as I believe in Santa.

Tomorrow I will attempt again to glow during radiation. Wish me luck! Last year all that glowed was my Christmas tree. VERY disappointing!!!!!!!!

9 notes

#thyroid cancer

#treatment

#thyrogen

#thyroglobulin

#glow

#radiate

#radiation

#radioactive iodine

#i-131

Did You Know…

…that Sophia Vergara had thyroid cancer too??? She is now officially my alter ego/unattainablegoal. If she can look that hot after going through thyroid cancer, I’d like to believe I can look maybe… 1/100th of the hotness she is??? :) 



8 notes

#goal

#sophia vergara

#thyroid cancer

#weight gain

#weight loss

Are We There Yet?

The countdown is on… not for New Years Eve like in years past, but for the day before NYE and the week before that. Why, you ask? Because it’s officially 13 days until I start my last round of the first round of treatment (if you are going through this you know what I mean), and 24 days until I get results and find out if I get to go from “Cancer Girl” to “Remission Girl”! And yes, I think about this countdown almost hourly. Hmph. >:(

As you may know, most people constantly encourage you to “think positive” and get irked when you talk about the fact that you might not be done with treatment quite yet. But as most of you don’t know (and hopefully never have to), the shock of finding out you are sick or that treatments didn’t work is one of the worst parts about the experience, so we are not necessarily being negative when we aren’t as positive as you’d like us to be, we are simply trying to insulate our emotions from the shock that could send us back into a deep, dark place - or better said, we’d MUCH rather be shocked to hear we are better than worse! :)

So PLEASE bear with me when you hear me say that I am preparing myself to find out I am not better yet, and that I will need additional treatment. The truth is, that might just be the case, and I’d rather face the facts head on than pretend they are not possible.

That’s me, minus the nose ring. :)

6 notes

#thyroid cancer

#round 2

#radiation

#RAI

#I-131

#countdown

#negative

#positive

#cancer girl

#remission girl

#cancer

#remission

Cooking Fun (In Action)

Put my new recipes to the test at home…. SUCCESS!! :)

The dip (served with gluten free crackers that were delicious AND complementary!)…

The tart (half eaten, that’s how good it was!!)…

Next challenge: find a way to make the tart w/o eggs. Wish me luck!!

8 notes

#thyroid

#thyroid cancer

#plant based diet

#recipes

#recipe

#LID diet

#low iodine

#kale

#tart

#cranberries

#pine nuts

#bean

#dip

#roasted

#garlic

Cooking Fun

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve gotten WAY more into cooking than I used to be. Now that I pay more attention to the nutritional value of I eat, I pay more attention to the flavor too! That’s why, when I discovered a wellness center (Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY) that offered (mostly) plant-based cooking classes, I was so excited to have the opportunity to learn how to cook delicious food that was healthy too. As luck would have it, they had a “Healthy Spin on Thanksgiving” class that I thought was the perfect introduction to the holiday season and would give me some healthy alternatives to some of the food I know will be served that is not very good for me :) ESPECIALLY since I’ll be going through treatment! Must be on my best behavior or Santa might give bad scan results for Xmas. NO THANK YOU.

Back to happier topics: FOOD! This is what we made and ate during our class: white bean and roasted garlic dip, kale and cranberry herbed tart, fish “en papilote”, ginger mashed sweet potatoes, savory wild rice, fall fruit crisp. Doesn’t that sound AMAZING? And fancy? :) Here is a picture of everything except the dip and dessert…

YES, it was as delicious as it looks :)

Want to try a recipe or two? Yes? I knew you would!

Since you might be going to a party (or 10) this holiday season, you might also be asked to bring a side dish or a dip… with that in mind here is the recipe for the dip we made. Delicious + Nutritious + LID approved = SCORE!

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip (makes 2 cups)

Ingredients:

1 head garlic

1 tbs rosemary leaves roughly chopped

2 tbs parsley

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

3-4 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 cups cooked cannelloni beans, skins removed (not sure how to do that)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO)

salt (kosher if on LID) and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut off the stem top of the garlic head to expose the very top of the garlic cloves, leaving the head intact. Place garlic in alumninum foil and drizzle with a few tbs of water and wrap it up. Place the garlic in the oven and cook for 45 minutes until soft and tender. Let it cool for a few minutes.

Free the roasted garlic from its skin and place in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add into the food processor all ingredients except salt and pepper and puree till smooth. Taste the dip, then season with salt and pepper.

It’s hard to choose from the other recipes which I think you’d like best, but since it’s the most unique, I’ll put the recipe here for the kale tart. I’d compare it to a spinach quiche - a healthier version of course. It does have egg in it, which I’d like to find a substitute for……… but it’s too good not to share anyway! And it’s fairly easy.

Kale and Cranberry Herbed Tart (serves 8)

Ingredients:

3 cups coarsely chopped kale

1 tbs thinly sliced shallots

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 large eggs, whisked

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pine nuts

One 9-inch crust:

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (had never had this before, loved it!)

1/2 tsp sea salt (if on the LID, sub for kosher)

1 tbs minced fresh rosemary

1/4 cup olive oil (I might cut this in half for mine)

1 tbs water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil and water. Stir wet ingredients into almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into a 9 inch tart pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.

In a large pot with a steamer basket, wilt the kale over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until bright green.

Place the kale, shallots, salt in a food processor and pulse till well blended. Transfer kale mixture to a bowl and stir in the eggs, cranberries, and pine nuts. Pour the mixture into the crust (don’t be scared if it looks runny, it will dry out as you cook it).

Bake 15-20 minutes, until browned around the edges and cooked through. Let the tart cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then serve.

Here is our “teacher/chef” starting to serve the food after our class - notice the tart in the middle (and the empty tray because so many of us - like me - had seconds!)

If you’re lucky I might get inspired to post the rest of the recipes eventually… for now try your hand at those two because they are DELICIOUS :)

3 notes

#thyroid cancer

#plant based diet

#LID diet

#radiation

#Radioactive Iodine

#kale

#sweet potatoes

#recipe

#fish en papilote

#white bean and roasted garlic dip

#blum wellness center

#blum kitchen

Here We Go Again…

When I tell people that treatment for thyroid cancer takes a year they gasp “THAT LONG???”, but truth be told, having that year to go back to your normal life and not think about it every day is pretty great. Granted, my weight issues are still there, and my scar is still not sexy, but I’ve been able to live my life without thinking about the end of the year that much… um… until now. YAY!

This week I had to schedule my last round of radiation. Okay okay, maybe I was supposed to call them back last week, and maybe I lost my spine and decided to put it off for a bit. Don’t tell anyone!!!

I did get lucky, and they have thyrogen this time (they were out last time) and I won’t have to go off my meds and get one more month closer to death (4 months off your meds you go into a coma and die… sweet thought, right??) in order for my body to be ready for radiation. It took me months to get my strength back after that last round so I’m OVERJOYED that I just have to get some injections this time and only feel that way for 2 days. YAY!

Unfortunately, scheduling all of this has brought back all the old fears. What if it doesn’t work? What if changing the way I eat and live has done nothing for me? What if the treatment wasn’t enough? What if all the random aches and pains I’ve been feeling mean that something is wrong? I can go on and on for hours… but you’re lucky I get bored easily. :)

I know I’ll have to face my fears, and I know that thinking negatively isn’t the “right” way to go about things, but you know what?? I’d love for someone to say “you know Anna, being afraid is okay, being scared is NORMAL, you’ll feel scared, and then you’ll feel okay, and whatever happens, you’ll probably cry a little (either out of relief or um… because you’re scared) and then you’ll deal with it!” And because no one I know will say that to me, I will say that to everyone reading this who is going through the same thing. Yes you’re going to be scared… just let it happen… it’s NORMAL. You’ll bounce back, I did/do :)


I stubbornly did not want to start a new year with all of this hanging over my head, so I scheduled everything for the last 2 weeks in December. Yes, my very last appointment is on December 30th, where I’ll get the results of my radiation/scans from my doctor. So I’ll either be starting 2012 with the biggest smile you’ll ever see, or I’ll be starting it doing a kickboxing class.

Here’s to starting 2012 with a SMILE and feeling just like this little guy does… :)

14 notes

#thyroid cancer

#RAI

#radiation

#part 2

#second half

#scared

#smile

#2012

caitlynmariee

I'm getting my thyroid out in december and I've lost 50 pounds since last year and that's being HYPOthyroid. I'm really really scared that I'm going to gain it all back. My doctor told me that usually the only people who gain weight after surgery are people who were Hyper before hand, so I was just wondering what you were before surgery and how it's impacted you.

Hi Caitlyn! How funny you’re going to have your thyroid out right around the same time I did :) I know it’ll feel like doing treatment during the holidays SUCKS, but really doing it during the winter is perfect because you get to wear scarves!!!! :)

As far as my weight goes, ugh, that’s a sore subject :) I’ve always struggled with my weight, it always felt like it was so easy to gain and harder to lose… then about a year before I was diagnosed I noticed my weight creeping up for no apparent reason, I was eating healthier and working out more but it didn’t seem to make a difference. When I was diagnosed it made more sense to me, since obviously my thyroid wasn’t working correctly… and then during treatment I proceeded to pack on another 15 lbs, putting me about 20 lbs over my goal weight. I won’t lie to you it’s very hard to lose the weight without a thyroid, but I have to say that with determination and understanding that your body is completely different you can still get back in shape. I’ve lost 10 of the 20 lbs in probably five times the amount of time it used to take me, but it’s been worth it because if i didn’t try I’d just balloon and feel disgusting about myself. 

Don’t forget though, everyone handles losing their thyroid differently so it might be different for you. Also, I had to go off my meds and become extremely hypo to do the radiation instead of taking the thyrogen injection (they were out of it at the time), and that made my body slow down so much it took me months to get my strength back in general - so if you’re taking the injections I don’t think it’ll hit you as hard. I’d say expect to gain a little weight but know that you can work it off after… and you probably won’t gain the 50 lbs! Fingers crossed!

Good luck to you!!! Write me any time and I’ll help when I can!

1 note

dietcokeisgross-deactivated2012

I just found you today and I'm e-hugging you right now. I'm in the midst of my LID and I take the radioactive iodine pill next Wed. Thank you for posting about this experience, I feel heartened. I could echo all your sentiments about how life has changed since all this began. I'm not hating the LID as much as I thought, (I miss milk for my coffee and cheese the most) and I'm really encouraged and interested in continuing it sort of...I don't know how to say goodbye to meat altogether, but it seems like a good idea. Anyway, thanks thanks thanks.
Sincerely,
Maggie

How did you know I needed an e-hug today??? :) Thank you!

I’m SO glad to hear that my posts have helped, it makes me feel the blog was worth it! And since I am still going through stages in the treatment/recovery process, finding people going through this like me is always a comfort :)

Going through treatment for thyroid cancer and losing your thyroid really does change you, your body, how it works, what you think, what you like, the people you’re willing to put up with - you come out of it a whole new person and it’s up to you what kind of person that is. I chose to be a slightly more cynical, much more life and laugh loving, and much much healthier with what I eat… I feel so much better as a result. :) I think my family would prefer that I don’t make as many morbid jokes though, teehee :)

As far as the milk and cheese go, try almond milk, it’s really great!!! Coconut is too, but it’s got a fattier consistency and I didn’t like that… Soy was okay but it had a taste to it that I didn’t appreciate, plus it interferes with synthroid so that’s not an option anyway. I’m off regular milk completely now and I honestly don’t miss it!

If you’re interested in “sort of” continuing the parts of the LID that you liked, try reading “The Detox Solution” by Kimberly Snyder - I read it during treatment and found that it helped explain food to me in a way that was easy to assimilate. I don’t follow everything the book says but it taught me a ton!

Best of luck to you during your treatment I hope the pill zaps all the bad cells out of you! :) 

And thank you for your note :)

Anna

Can’t Get Enough of Bok Choy!

Lately I’ve found myself getting bored of my usual meal staples and wanting to try new foods and food combinations, so I’ve started branching out - and have not regretted it! I will share my favorite recipes with you as I experience them. You know you’re excited! :)

I’d seen this green/white leafy type veggie in the supermarket called “bok choy” - it was something I remembered seeing on the menu at my favorite Chinese restaurant, and since I just got a new job that will take me to China soon, I decided to investigate! Apparently some people call it ”leafy Chinese cabbage” - a fitting description! It’s more delicious than cabbage, I think! Plus I think bok choy is fun to say, so that’s a bonus. Heehee :)

This is what it looks like raw:

Here’s my favorite recipe in case you are feeling adventurous. FYI, it’s so easy, quick, incredibly delicious, and of course very healthy! A lot of the nutrition is in the stalk (white part) of it, so don’t cut them and only eat the green part or you’ll be missing out! Also good to note, this veggie is extremely low calorie - 13 calories for 100g - I’ll take it! For those of us without a thyroid, that’s a MAJOR bonus! Woo! 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup chopped green onions

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 lb. bok choy, rinsed, leaves taken apart (can rip or cut in half or leave whole) 

1 tsp dark sesame oil

Salt (kosher salt if on the LID)

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat sesame oil in large saute pan on medium high heat. Add onions, then garlic, then bok choy. Sprinkle with salt. Cover, let bok choy cook down for about 3 minutes (it wilts like collard greens). Remove cover. Lower heat to low. Stir and let cook for a minute or two longer, until the bok choy is just cooked. Remove from heat and eat eat eat!

Note: To be honest, I’ve had larger and smaller amounts of just about every ingredient and it’s turned out great, just use what you have and tweak as you desire!

6 notes

#bok choy

#delicious

#healthy

#low calorie

#veggie

#vegetable

#thyroid cancer

#low iodine diet

#recipe

#garlic

#sesame oil

#kosher salt