Living With or Without Cancer-Getting Ready to Roll

“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” – Terry Pratchett

Today I am changing my story. Instead of dying with cancer I am now living with cancer. It is possible that I am fooling myself and there is no cancer within me to live with. Well that is a cool thought.

Moores Cancer Center

Last Wednesday, with the support of Yvonne, we drove to the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD (University of California San Diego). I had a second opinion appointment with one of the primary head and neck surgeons. I define second opinions as a way to gather more information, so that I can be comfortable making a decision that will shape and define my life.

This whole complex of buildings that makes up the cancer center and other technologies are imposing as you drive in. The structures are big and impressive. There is one building that is dedicated to all things radiological speaking. The Novel Technology building is so new that the staff is not sure what it does. I was curious enough to do some on line research. It appears that it is a specialty that works with deep brain tumors and microscopic surgery. Interesting. It is good to be impressed by what I see.

My appointment went well. I met with Dr Brummond and his associates. They were kind and amazingly good listeners, especially the medical student that did the intake interview. Most of the information that I was given was not new, but that is what I wanted, a confirmation that my surgeon and endocrinologist were on the right track. I will have the other half of my thyroid removed upon my return from Africa (yes I am going). I did receive one new piece of information. This doctor feels that if the biopsy on the left thyroid comes back negative for cancer he believes I don’t need the radioactive iodine treatment. So I will gather that information into the ongoing puzzle of thyroid cancer.

Dr Brummond feels it will be OK to wait until my return in the fall to have the surgery to remove the other half of the thyroid. That is good news, really good news. I am relieved that this appointment is over and that I can begin to really plan for a trip of a lifetime. I imagine my friend and travel companion, Phyllis is glad to hear this too.

With the help of a therapist I am now getting ready to go into the final planning mode for this trip. Today I got my typhoid shot. All the other meds are gathered and ready to go. I am planning to leave San Diego this coming Monday and begin an amble east. Elsie says her bags are packed as well. I am daring to allow myself to get excited without getting overwhelmed. Living with cancer allows me to dare, to get excited, to dream. I was already getting weary of the feeling of dread that has been hanging over me. As I take each step towards Africa, the dread will disappear more and more.

My life is too short to be fearful and experience dread. That is a hard way to live. I would rather live hopefully and with a little or a lot of joy, depending on the day. These are always personal choices we all have to make every single day of our lives. Yes even you, dear reader are included here. Sometime the choice to live with hope is easy. Other days well we all have to dig a bit deeper to find that place. And so dig I shall.

Getting to Roll…New Jersey here I come….AFRICA here I come.


8 thoughts on “Living With or Without Cancer-Getting Ready to Roll

  1. Oh Janet this is wonderful news (that you are going forward with your trip to Africa)! Enjoy the journey and have fun. Can’t wait to see your pictures and learn more of your journey to Africa as well as with your living with cancer and going for the gusto of life while you can!

  2. Good to have that consult taken care of and move forward with confidence and assurance that you’re on the right path.
    I’d like to know what countries in Africa you’re visiting? I’ve been to Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. I’d like to return to Kenya hich I absolutely loved and also Tanzania. I look forward to your posts from Africa, although I know I’m going to be very envious.

  3. Exactly! Your were living with it before you knew and still are…Have a wonderful African experience….I’m proud of you though that really isn’t the point….but girl you got this!




  4. Janet, I leave a comment once in a while but when I have seen your last few post and the one as of late I felt like I needed to share this story with you. Kenzie, who is the 11 year old daughter of my best friend got diagnosed at yes…11 with thyroid cancer. She is the sweetest kid you will ever meet and this diagnoses made me so mad! She went through the surgery…and then got ready for the iodine treatment. After surgery she found it hard the first 2 days and then asked for the biggest milkshake around. When she healed and started the iodine she shared her daily nights of isolation with me through video calling. She said what most intrigued her about all this was the weight of the box the pill came in and that she had to wear gloves to open it. What I was most intrigued by was her ability to cope in the face of the unknown. She was and is strong and didnt back down. She is about 2 to 3 weeks removed from the iodine and the good news is that her drs dont want to see her till August! I wanted you to know her story because like she did it….so will you! I hope this helps in some way…to possibly find strength from people you would least expect too. Enjoy Africa!

  5. Good news Janet! What a spectacular trip you will have. Life is a journey and sometimes we just need to live in the moment. Enjoy your time in Africa and keep us posted 😊

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