My dear sweet friends. Okay, some scary stuff here but there is hope.
Friday afternoon, Oct. 1, I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of thyroid cancer. But, stay calm, see the next post, there is much to hope for, including the possibility of a misdiagnosis.
There are some long-term survivors and I am going to MD Anderson in Houston. It has a clinic that specializes in this rare sucker (we are talking 500 cases per year, I shoulda run out and bought a Lotto ticket when I learned that, huh?) And it saves the lives of people who have this cancer (see next post). In my gut, I see myself on the other side of this.I do feel this quite strongly. It’s not something I am telling myself from the outside in. It is something quite visceral. The same thing I felt when I was doing the Imogene Pass Run (a 17-mile run over a 13,000 foot mountain pass) two weeks ago. It's a feeling that is quite primeval and powerful. I have to admit, I crawled more than ran, but I did make the fairly aggressive cutoff time -- miss it and they send you back down the mountain. So, deep breath here. My very wise and beloved cousin Sarah told me that an oncologist friend told her every patient is different and that means every cancer is different.
For background, I had half of my thyroid removed almost two weeks ago. My doctors have been watching the nodules on my thyroid for several years and I go in annually to have it checked. At the end of June, I noticed a sudden and substantial swelling in my throat, right after I got Lyme Disease. To make a long story short, I went to my doctor (not my endocrinologist, whose staff could not get me in until November), who ordered an ultrasound and then sent me to a surgeon, who recommended removing half of the thyroid, so the remaining half could produce whatever it is that thyroids produce. I took the first available slot for surgery, September 20. A pathologist looked at a sample during the surgery, with the surgeon sitting next to her, and said it was okay, but they scheduled a more thorough look post surgery and the result, this diagnosis. Which blindsided everyone, not just me.
I am going to the MD Anderson because it has a FAST clinic that specializes in this specific cancer because it is so aggressive. Sarah, my cousin, lives in Houston and she has room for me and any cheerleaders who accompany me (she is a great cheerleader but I am just telling you because her husband has a great wine cellar). My sister and brothers have been incredible and those of you who already know have given me major boosts. I don't know what I would do without you.
Eliana and Gavriela both know and were extraordinarily brave when I told them. The three of us are getting together for a massive cuddlefest this weekend, along with Eliana's sweet boyfriend.
I have huge support from my family, my friends here in the city and friends across the country including brave and valiant friends who have had rare and aggressive cancers and are still here today. I am doing the Norman Cousins routine. While suffering from a degenerative disease, he discovered that ten minutes of belly laughter was a great anesthetic, allowing him two hours of pain free sleep. He did a regimen of Marx Brothers movies, old Candid Camera episodes, funny columns by EB White ad more. I am already seeking out an acupuncturist for pain management (I feel totally fine, but planning ahead), continuing to power walk (I can't run because the surgery scar is still healing) for mental health and because exercise can retard cancer growth. I am meditating, and today had moments of feeling exhilarated.
On the good news front, my skin doc called and I do not have skin cancer!
In other areas of my life, I am going full steam ahead on marketing my current book, Jesus Is Not Republican: A Secular Liberal's Adventures With Religion, Politics and Sex, which I have finally published.
If you would like to help, here are a few ideas. These will change as things develop!
Download and skim and/or read parts of Jesus Is Not Republican and give it a one or two-line review on Amazon. It is a mix of my story and our nation's. It's alternately irreverent, critical and respectful (kinda like me) and it actually should give you hope! And share it with anyone you know! Having people read what I write will help me survive this. A holistic friend of mine says thyroid stuff is all about unexpressed words. I am already working on my next book! I am working with an wonderful editor and with her help, this new book will be done in four or five months. Email me if you want to know more!
Send me ideas for funny books to read, funny TV episodes (I am watching Ted Lasso and indulging in reading the Regency romance novels by Julia Quinn, whose books were the inspiration for that wonderful bodice ripper, Bridgerton).
Are you into visualization? Please send me cues! I will take any ideas you have from being a cancer warrior yourself or as a warrior for someone else! Every time I tell someone about this, I get something positive back
Anytime you think you see something of value or meet someone, tell me!
Hug your kids. Hug your friends. Hug your siblings, your spouse, your significant other, whoever. Tell everyone you see every day -- or don't see every day -- how much you love them. Laugh. Be positive. Be brave. Be vulnerable. Be gentle with yourself.
Vote for Democrats! (Sorry, can't help myself).
I am canceling, for obvious reasons, my Park City stay, which is fucking drag since I was meeting guys, but such is life.
I feel angry, determined, hopeful, doubtful but most of all, hugely grateful.
I feel enveloped with love and gratitude. My friend Beth, who survived a rare and aggressive cancer when our kids were in nursery school, said cancer is awful but it also is a gift that shows you how people can be loving and generous. And she is absolutely right.
This morning on my power walk, I had moments of euphoria (stone cold sober!)