Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Kid's a Survivor

I saw this picture on Facebook this morning and it made me hold my breath for a moment. Up until a couple of months ago I would have just "liked' it, thought of all the survivors I know, and then moved on. But, this time a survivor lives in my house and every time I really allow myself to think about that I either get choked up or I get angry and want to break something. I'm hoping those are normal feelings for a Mama who's faced down one of a Mama's worst fears.

I kinda mentioned in my last post that one of my boys had a serious health issue we were dealing with, but we were taking it in stride. Cracking jokes and milking it (the Kid) and just pushing thru to do what needed to be done. We're almost on the other side of it now but we still have a little ways to go.

Austin  had thyroid cancer. There, now it's out there.

Let me start at the beginning. Sometime in February Austin had a sore throat that wouldn't go away and kept him out of school a day or two. He never ran a fever so I kept telling him to just take it easy, gargle salt water, suck on throat lozenges, etc. After about five days of him complaining about it I finally took him to the doctor, thinking the whole time that he was just being a drama "queen" (king?). The doc couldn't find anything wrong, strep test was negative so she told him the same things I'd already told him.

The throat started feeling better so we went on with life and then about a week later Austin told me that he had a lump in the right side of this neck. I thought it was just related to the sore throat and would go away on it's own. When another week had passed and the lump was still there, I made another doctor's appointment. 

It was pretty obvious that this time they thought there was something to be at least a little concerned about. We were immediately sent to have blood drawn to check thyroid levels and set up with an appointment to see a surgeon, because he "could get us in for a biopsy before anyone else could". At the time I just thought we were going to learn that he had some type of thyroid issue. Like Hyper or Hypo, or maybe his levels were just off and he'd take some medicine to get it all under control and that would be it. Hoping for the best, you know? Or whatever best might be in a situation like that.

So, to whittle down this long story - we met the surgeon a week later, we had a biopsy done about a week after that visit, and about a week after that the surgeon called to tell me that my 16 year old son had thyroid cancer. Not what I wanted to hear or was expecting, at all.

So, on April 30th Austin had his thyroid removed along with the cancerous nodule. According to all the doctors we've seen he should be fine for the rest of his life now. I can't count how many times I've heard, "if you have to have cancer this is the one to have". Apparently it's almost always caught early and easy to treat. Of course, I'd much rather he never have had cancer in the first place and that he still have the thyroid he was born with. I hate the thought that he has to rely on medicine for the rest of his life now. We still have a few more drives to Charlottesville to see doctors and a Radio-active Iodine treatment to go through, but I think we're almost done with all this cancer craziness. Thank God for that!

I can't type all this out without giving HUGE props to all the doctors and nurses at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, VA. The surgeon that we've been seeing, Dr. Kane, has been so good to both of us through this whole thing and I'm actually kinda sad that we won't need to see him after these next few check-ups. The nurses at UVA are just all simply amazing. Austin spent two nights in the hospital after his surgery and all the nurses, from post-op to in-patient, were so patient with him and treated him as if he were their child while caring for him. It really helped make the whole ordeal a little easier to bear. So, to all of our UVA peeps, if you're reading this - THANK YOU from the bottom of this Mama's heart!

If you wanna know more about Thyroid Cancer there's a really great website at with tons of information. There are also two groups on YahooGroups: for general Thyroid cancer support and for Pediatric thyroid cancer support. I found both of those groups helpful. If you have questions for me, please leave a comment and I can answer in a comment or I can email you if you'd prefer. 

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