Caravan Sonnet: Chronicittles: Lauren's Thyroid Cancer Story

9/26/13

Chronicittles: Lauren's Thyroid Cancer Story

{Chronicittles Disclaimer: Those that are sharing their personal chronicittles stories are sharing just that- their stories. They are people that are struggling {or have struggled} with the ins and outs of a chronic illness and have found ways of surviving and thriving. Their stories are meant to encourage, inspire, and challenge those that are struggling but are in no way meant to be a physician's advice. Please be aware that this is a space for learning and encouraging and not a space that will allow critical comments of any persons story. A reader should consult with his/her physician regarding any information gleaned from these stories. Thank you so much for reading!}

It's with great pleasure that I share with you Lauren (from Simply Free) and her chronicittles story! Even though I have never met her "in person" I am honored to call her a friend! She is truly inspiring and I am excited to have her share her story!
*all pictures below are Lauren's*
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For most of my life I was an incredible active individual. I was in great shape and health problems were never of concern. Until I was 10 years old. I went to get a routine physical for a sports camp and was told I might drop dead at any moment. I was told my body would fail me and that the heart murmur I had in addition to what the doctor speculated was Lou Gehrig’s Disease would only complicate things and was certain of my imminent demise at any moment. After several rounds of testing over the course of the next eight years coupled with various other “mystery” ailments, we came to find that while, yes I had an irregular heart murmur, I did not have ALS, but that I had Mitral Valve Prolapse, a very treatable and non life-threatening heart condition. All of this to say, that through those eight years or trying to figure out what was wrong, I learned my body and what was “normal” for me. I knew how to identify each abnormality in my body; for fear that it was something related to my heart that might need immediate attention.

A little over a year ago, I was not feeling that “normal”. I was constantly tired; my throat felt like something was continuously caught in it, and I had gained a few pounds in a few months. Attributing it all merely to a new birth control and the fact that my husband had just gotten over a nasty cold, I wasn’t all too worried, but was certainly keeping an eye on things. And that’s when we discovered I had a large nodular on my neck while he was giving me a simple back massage. So I decided it was time to go the doctor, trying not to let my mind wander, convincing myself my lymph nodes were inflamed due to a cold.

Not thinking it was so obvious, he noticed the nodular right away and sent me for a thyroid ultrasound. And then the fear set in. After they determined the mass was a tumor (2in x 1in x 1in in size contained to my thyroid), they sent me for a guided ultrasound and took a biopsy of the cells. The results from that showed that from the cells on the inside of the tumor (they could only test the inside and not the outside with the biopsy), the inside of it and those cells they took are atypical and that the inside of the tumor could be benign, but that the outside could be follicular cancer of the thyroid.  So many “could bes”, so many unknowns.

After much researching, we skipped the endocrinologist and went straight to the surgeon, a friend of the family. I meet with the Surgical Oncologist at the Kirklin Clinic in Birmingham at the end of Feb, having a CT scan done first and then met with him to go over that and all my other records. He confirmed everything we already knew, and also was able to provide us with some new info. The tumor is contained to the right lobe of the thyroid and the left side looks normal. Which was great news! He also said that from what the scan showed, my lymph nodes look unaffected and that the mass has not gone below my collar bones, which was also good.

All that to be said, I had surgery (right thyroid lobectomy) on April 4th at UABto remove the mass. I was 26. The thought of cancer seemed unfathomable, but I had already lost two college friends to the cruel word, and the thought of what may lie ahead both terrified and challenged me. I knew I wasn’t fighting this alone.

During the surgery, he removed the right lobe & they didn't find anything else wrong with my lymph nodes or anything so that was great! They wanted to test the mass (tumor is such a harsh word) further, and if they found after testing that it was malignant, then I would have had to go back and have another surgery to remove the other part of my thyroid and have meds to take daily. However, if they found that it was benign, I wouldn't even have to take pills. I was left with this uncertainty after surgery while trying to recover with a sizable incision wound on my neck, as well as stiffness, soreness and pain in my neck and chest.  I remained home from work for three weeks to heal, and spent any time outside wrapped in a scarf despite the blazing heat of Coastal Alabama. It was certainly a better alternative to the incredulous glances of strangers who passed by, contemplating my ghastly wound between my collar bones, wondering if I had been attacked and held at knife point.

This was somewhat of a process trying to find answers and waiting for results, but it was quite an encouraging one in actuality. Everyone at UAB was just incredible from the ladies at admission, to the nurses, techs, and all of the surgical team.  It really was a great overall experience in regards at the hospital given the situation and I couldn't have asked for anything better. We were bathed in prayer and surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family both at the hospital & from far away.  And having my sweet husband by my side through it all has been such a blessing.  He truly has been the embodiment of comfort and love and has just been the most incredible man through this all. We were (and continue to be) confident in the Lord's plans and trust fully in His provision, comfort and peace. 

A few days after the surgery, we received news that it was benign. Benign. Such a beautiful word. And while the potential for the other side of my thyroid to develop a similar tumor, and this process could be repeated down the road, or that somewhere else my body my turn against me, I am prepared. And for at this moment, I am cancer free. Testifying to His providence, and to His healing. 

Any helpful thoughts, suggestions, or encouragement that you would pass on to others:
After finding out what was wrong, the question I had been getting is one of concern.  Not only for my physical well being especially now that I am out of the hospital, but also for my emotional state.  With everything that had been going on, my general response had been a generic one since I had been filled with such a myriad of emotions that have been rather difficult to voice.  I can however say that in the midst of all those feelings, my answer to the question “So, how are you feeling?” could be simply summed into one word. Blessed. Completely loved, taken care of, and inexplicably comforted. Curious of course; wanting answers and learning patience in gathering them. Terrified quite honestly; I had no idea what to expect before the surgery, and even through the recovery process there were still moments of fear that came upon me. And large amounts of pain, naturally. But anger, not at all. Being angry for this experience would lessen the value of what the Lord had been teaching already me through it all. Especially when it came to love and comfort.  To be surrounded by such amazing friends and family that not only expressed their care for me with such incredibly sweet emails/letters and silly text messages/pictures, but ones who have acted on that by keeping us busy with dinners, events, and outings to show their support as well. To have a husband who not only had been by my side for countless doctor’s appointments, but one who has embodied the very meaning of unfailing love through that seeming time of “worse” by holding me close and never ceasing to show how much he cares for me even with the most gentle kiss of the forehead when I needed it most. I am simply just incredibly blessed.

Any resources (websites, books, etc.) that you would suggest:
This article was of particular comfort to me that I was not alone in what I was feeling:

Want to connect with Lauren? You can find her here:

Lauren would love to here from you! You can email her at:  simplyfreeblog@gmail.com
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Thank you so much Lauren for your encouragement and strength in sharing your story with us! Your courage inspires all of us! 

Are you a "chronicittle" (someone in their 20s or 30s who is struggling with a chronic illness) and would like to share your story? If you would like to find out more information please feel free to email me at: caravansonnet@gmail.com! 

4 comments:

  1. Love sweet Lauren! I have had the chance to meet her in real life and she has a beautiful heart. Thank you, friend, for opening your blog to share the stories of other women!

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  2. You are too sweet Rebecca :) And same to Miss Kalyn as well! Thanks so much for allowing me to share my story and being so open and real here in your little space. It means the world to me!

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  3. Love this sweet woman of God so much!! I haven't seen since March, but it was awesome. :)

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  4. Blessed. Beautiful - praising Him in the midst of a trial - thanks for sharing!

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