Last winter Everett and I enjoyed South Texas. I edited a manuscript. Joyce and I worked on our new book (Role Call: Women’s Voices) and the spring issue of The Bugle. Everett and I volunteered at the new birding and nature center on South Padre Island. In the evenings I headed out with my camera to the beach, the island or the wildlife refuge. Oh yes, we spent many evenings chasing after Brownsville’s parrot flock – to no avail.
Life was good and my life bounced right along. Mark, our son, visited the week before Easter. I needed to get to Branson to finish up the Bugle. The day after Easter I had my doctor’s appointment. While there, an “Oh by the way…” question turned into two months of tests and a May 28 diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
Life changed. I needed surgery – as soon as possible. My choice was Houston or Kansas City. My family preferred Kansas City. So we immediately headed north. Mark scrambled to find the best doctor to perform the surgery. I think he found the best in Dr. Robert Thompson. My surgery took place on June 11 and I left the hospital minus my thyroid and eight lymph nodes – with the knowledge that cancer was in both sides of my thyroid and 3 of my lymph nodes and instructions for my radioactive iodine treatment.
My endocrinologist, Dr. Mercado, informed me that after my treatment I will have a full body scan to find out if the cancer has metastasized. It’s a summer of waiting and more waiting.
The 2004 summer of Ben’s (my grandson) auto accident stretched on forever. We prayed, waited, and prayed some more. This summer I’m doing much the same thing.
Our book is finished. Joyce and I are now working on the fall issue of The Bugle and I’m starting the second week of preparation for my treatment; a low-iodine diet (you’ll hear more about that later). I’m not finding time for my camera and I miss it.
As life lessons go, I’m learning a lot – about a disease I knew nothing about, about life and most of all about the beautiful support and love of family and friends. I’m learning from others who are fighting their own cancer battles. I’m witnessing strength, faith and unbelievable caring. I’m learning how much each of us means to our family and friends. What a joyous lesson!
Life is a series of adventures with twists and turns. While I never would have chosen this turn - or Ben's accident - I realize both have a purpose and have changed the path of our lives. We are what we are today and we can't change that. While we can't always control the future, we can control the way we face it and what we do about it.