MY CANCER JOURNEY
AN ONLINE DIARY ABOUT RAI-RESISTANT THYROID CANCER
Updated April 2017
"THE GOOD CANCER"
Almost 4 years ago my life changed for ever! I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer! The good cancer, which everyone told me was fairly easy to be cured and had a low fatality rate. So on the surface, to my friends and family I was almost as normal.
FIRST NECK SURGERY
I had my first surgery, where they removed my thyroids, they found 3 tumours, but the doctors were a bit vague about exactly what else they found. Still, I was pretty optimistic. After all, I thought that it was the “Good cancer” and I didn’t want to worry my family and friends too much. When I realised I had to have more treatment,
I remember, sitting in the car for about a hour, listening to Johnny Cash, and reflecting over my life. Even when someone tells you that you are sick, is still very surreal to believe it. I ran my first half marathon the day after. I was not a strong runner, but I’m exceptional stubborn.
And I somehow convinced myself, that if I could run a half marathon, my body could do what ever I told it to!
FIRST RADIOACTIVE IODINE TREATMENT
4 WEEKS FROM MY CHILDREN
I had my first radioactive iodine treatment, after which, I had to stay in isolation for quite some time, because my kids at that time were only 8 months and 2 years old. I stayed away from my family for 4 weeks, only seeing my husband 1 hour a day. It was a very depressing time, but I kept active by running and working to keep my mind busy.
SECOND AND THIRD SURGERY
DOUBLE ANKLE SURGERY
During this time, I had also ruptured a ligament in my ankle. So, I decided to prepare for the second treatment and have double ankle surgery.
SECOND RADIOACTIVE IODINE TREATMENT
6 WEEKS AWAY FROM MY CHILDREN
After sometime my oncologist concluded the treatment had not worked, so he wanted to do it again, but on a higher dose. This time, I was even more limited on crutches and had 6 weeks of isolation from my family plus I had 4 weeks without my hormones (the ones which compensate for my missing thyroids). This was the worst and hardest thing I have ever tried, constant pain, isolation from people and constantly depressed. Our son took the seperation very hard, and we had to stop videochatting, because we both start crying to much. Unfortunately, in the middle of my isolation period, I found out that the second treatment didn’t work either.
SECOND NECK SURGERY
In November 2015, one of my good friends, convinced me to get a second opinion in London. I found out I have rare version of thyroid cancer, where I’m immune to Radiative iodine, making it almost impossible to trace or get rid off. They also instantly found 4 more tumours, so I got yet another surgery in the neck, where they removed 21 lymph nodes. Nine of these were cancerogenic. One of these was very close to the chest area, so the scheduled me for a split sternum surgery.
SPLIT STERNUM SURGERY
They removed 29 lymph nodes in my chest. All came back negative in the biopsy, and my tumor marker was still elevated in the blood, so we had to continue the goose chase.
On the petscan, there was some suspicious activity in my armpit, so I was scheduled for another surgery. They removed 3 lymph nodes, all came back negative.
THIRD NECK SURGERY
After the the 2 surgeries, my Thyrogloubin level (tumor marker) was still to high, and there the neck ultrasound came up a bit suspicious, so I was scheduled for double neck surgery. They removed 3 lymph nodes, all came back positive.
28 EXTERNAL RADIATION BEAMS
THE 6 HARDEST WEEKS
My Thyrogloubin was still to high, plus all 3 tumors, had loose cancer cells around them, so we decided to have radiation beams. We decided that I would be in London Monday to Friday alone, and with my family in Malta Friday to Monday for 6 weeks. The first weeks was easy. But after some weeks, where I began to throw up blood, my skin start melting up, I started to fear the radiation machine, and panicked under my radiation mask. We decided the last 2 weeks, that the family should stay with me instead.
Radiation Beams are the worst I have tried. Also because of the amount of side effects.
And remember there is no such thing as good cancer - If you ever meet anyone who have thyroid cancer, please DO NOT CALL IT GOOD CANCER.
LIVING WITH CANCER
Been flying back and forward between Malta and other countries 30 times and spent more than 130 days in hotels.
Despite all of this I’M OK. Yes, it sucks to have cancer, however I have made the best out of this situation. I keep active, even the days I lie on the floor throwing up blood, I still try to keep busy. I have co-founded companies, walked or biked min 1 hour a day. I do my best not to look or feel sick. I want look back at a person in the mirror who can kick (cancer) ass. I don’t get better or live longer staying in my bed feeling sorry for my self. I know I will never be 100% cured, if I’m lucky I will have breaks from surgery and treatment, but for the rest of my life, this will hang over our my and my family’s heads. A lot of people write to me and tell me how sorry they feel for me.
Don’t! Don’t pity me! Because I can promise you, very few people enjoy and love life more than I do.
The only advise I can give, don’t wait to get sick to fully live you life! – Don’t fill you life with things, that slowly eat you up. You have one life, make the most of it, live, love, make mistakes, learn from them, but mostly learn and develop and be the person you want to be, instead of just talking or dreaming about it.