Coming out

A lot of you are probably in a bit of shock right now. This is the first you’ve heard anything about me having cancer.

Sorry ’bout that.

You can read the whole story here, but this is the short version: Nine days ago I learned I have papillary thyroid cancer (the same thing as Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher). Fortunately, that’s the most treatable form of cancer there is. The cure rate is around 99 percent. I expect to be cured in two months, and with no chemo. The treatment starts with surgery to remove my thyroid tomorrow.

Which brings me to the timing of this little announcement.

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Two days from surgery: a little anxious

I actually feel pretty comfortable with what the doctors have told me about what they are doing and what the possible complications for that are. If the worst thing is that I have a hoarse voice or need calcium supplements, that’s OK.

What worries me now is what they don’t know.

I’m sure everything will be fine if they just remove the thyroid and maybe a handful of questionable lymph nodes. But what if they get in there and see the bad stuff has spread somewhere else? They said thyroid cancer doesn’t spread much, so it’s a small risk.

Still, I’ll be a lot happier in about 52 hours, after the surgeon has said “We got it all.”

The best surgeon?

I’ve already scoped out a couple of message boards for cancer patients and survivors, one through the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Assn. and one through the Cancer Survivors Network. Support is great, but you have to be careful that you don’t let strangers on a message board freak you out too much.

Today, for example, I introduced myself to one group, and immediately I got a few well-meaning folks who told me how important it was to find a surgeon who does A LOT (yes, all caps) of thyroid surgeries. Well, that I knew. How much is A LOT? My surgeon, Dr. W, who was referred to me by my endocrinologist, told me he averages about one a week. That seemed like plenty to me, but what do I know? I was sick the day they taught thyroid surgery in journalism school.

Some of the message board people let me know that there are thyroid surgeons who do two a week. Sure enough, there are some who do two a day.

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In the beginning…

That seems like a good way to start a story, doesn’t it? I’m sure I read that somewhere.

First off, I gotta say why I’m doing this. I am, by trade, a writer. It’s what I do best. Of course, at the moment I’m not doing much of it, but that’s another story that you probably don’t care about. The reason you are reading this is because you or someone you love has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. You are probably pretty frightened. No one likes to hear the “c-word.” I don’t care for it much myself. In fact, I debated avoiding its use altogether, but figured that would make it kinda difficult for people to find this blog, which would defeat the purpose.

Anyway, you are probably scared, but also optimistic because you’ve heard stuff like “thyroid cancer is the best kind of cancer you can get,” and it’s “highly curable.” I’m going to assume those things are true, because I already named the blog “beating thyroid cancer” and so far I haven’t done anything. I’m still a week away from my surgery.

I’m optimistic.

I’m going to let this blog be my diary as I go through it. I doubt that many people will read it in real time, though. Probably only after it’s over and the happy ending has been penned.

So let’s get you caught up to what’s happened so far.

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