Friday, September 11, 2009

I've got a Hemi! (and some observations)

Yesterday was my hemi-thyroidectomy. That's fancy language for surgical removal of approximately half my thyroid gland. The final, official results should come back next week, but the good news is that the pathologist didn't find any malignancy in the section of the gland they removed. Apparently cancer was too chicken to show up to the fight this time.

The surgery went smoothly, and of course the worst part was the anticipation. Due to the all the repeated chemo treatments over six months, it took the nurse three tries to tap a good vein for the IV. I'm still glad I didn't get a port installed though -- it just would have slowed me down all these months.

I started the journey this year fighting Hodgkin's, and just when I had it up against the ropes, this thyroid thing came up. Fortunately, things went my way. I owe so much to all of you who have been supporting me along the way. I've never been used to so much attention, so some interactions may have seemed a little awkward at times. You all can know with 100% certainty that no "Good luck" or "Stay strong" went unnoticed by me.

A lot of attention is being paid to healthcare in the news right now. Regardless of your political views, there are two things that I've learned are necessary to living a healthy life and getting through a serious illness:
1) Maintain responsibility for your own health. You need to remain vigilant over your own symptoms before they get out of control. This goes for the old and the young. That's right all you young people (especially males). I was ignorant and stubborn too. Staying INVINCIBLE isn't about pretending that nothing can happen to you. It's about knowing your body, respecting it, and keeping yourself educated. Get yourself a doctor (and a dentist) and visit him or her at least once a year. Discover all you can about your family's medical history and make sure you get all the regular tests and scans performed (recommended for your age, gender, risk factors, etc.). If something doesn't feel or look right, tend to it. If your doctor seems a little too conservative or aggressive in his recommendations, then seek out another opinion. It's not about a doctor's hurt feelings (because they really don't mind anyway), it's about your life. Whether it's smoking, drinking, unsafe sex, red meat, laziness, sword swallowing, donuts.... we all have our bad habits, but take responsibility for their possible immediate and cumulative effects. Practice moderation where possible so that you can get quality and quantity out of your life. Don't blame others for your own choices, and recognize how your choices may affect others today or forty years from now. You may not think anyone will miss you if you disappeared today (I used to think that), but I guarantee one day you'll have people dependent on you in some way or another.


2) The other thing to help you get through it all? Easy: the support of family and friends... even ones you thought were gone or you didn't know you had. I've often heard that my attitude is inspirational, but I didn't really see a choice. You had a choice in your attitude and words with me, and I guarantee that I'm the one who remains truly inspired.

Today - Life

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