Monday, April 14, 2014

The Results Are In

On April 10 I had a body scan to see where the radioactive iodine was absorbed. Since thyroid cells (normal and cancerous) are the only things that would take in the radiation, this test would show if the cancer had spread to any other parts of my body, the first places being in my lungs and bones.

Well, after a very long weekend of waiting, the doctor finally said that the cancer has not spread!

Praise the Lord!!

The scan did show three "spots" in my neck that could be cancer, but they absorbed the radiation which will hopefully kill it. Nothing in my bones and lungs "lit up", which means the radiation didn't go there, which means there is no cancer. I couldn't be happier!

I've always been an optimistic person, but these past couple of months have taken it out of me. The Worst Case Scenario seems to keep happening so it has been hard to hope for the best. I literally feared to pray for good things because I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment. It has been really hard to ask God for things lately because I know what it is like when he says no.

Yes, I know that is a distorted way to look at things- a wrong way to look at God, who loves to give us good gifts. Let's just say, I'm working on it... But luckily, I have friends who have taken it upon themselves to stand in my place and pray those things for me.

And God listened. Praise him!

The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you. Zephaniah 3:17

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Writing Process: A blog tour

A couple of weeks ago, this funny and witty gal named Alex asked to tag me in a "blog tour" (No, I'm not talking about myself in third person. There is actually another cool and awesome female named Alex who has a blog. Such a strange, small world).

I had no idea what a "blog tour" was, so of course I said yes. Apparently I'm supposed to share my "writing process," so here we go:

1. What am I working on?
Besides my weekly grocery list and personal journal that I refuse to let anyone read, this little 'ole blog is the only time I write. In the past, my posts were random exerts about my life, mainly focusing on fitness endeavors, traveling, and daily happenings. Right now this is a place for me to work through my grieving, share my battle with thyroid cancer, and encourage people along the way. I would love for this to reach more and more people, but that takes effort and regular blog posts, both of which seem to be lacking these days. I'm just happy to take a shower and get out of my house.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My writing is different from others in the sense that I, as a person, am different. I am unique. My thoughts are my own. I don't know anyone who has a life like mine. Thank goodness.

3. Why do I write what I do?
Currently, writing helps me work through my grief. It helps me organize my thoughts and make sense of my emotions. While I am selective with what I write, I love that this blog allows me to share my joys and struggles with thousands of people. If anything, I hope my words will help and encourage someone going through their own journey too.
In general, I love to blog so I can have a journal to refer to months and years down the line. I have the worst memory ever and, because of this blog, I don't have to remember past race times or the specifics of our Europe Adventure.

4. How does your writing process work? 
Nothing too genius here. If something big is happening in my life, I write. If I'm inspired by something or someone, I write. However, I hate to post just words; for some reason a post seems empty without a picture. I prefer to write in complete silence and I hate when someone reads my work before it is finished (aka: my husband leaning over my shoulder. Ugh, I can't stand it!)

On that note, here is a completely random picture of me and Josh.
Year: 2008.

And to complete the tour, next week you should visit these completely awesome and amazing women. I would call these ladies actual writers, people who's job is to sound good on paper. They most definitely have a lot more to say than I do. Seriously, go check them out. 

Jennifer from

 Jessi from

Hannah from

Friday, April 4, 2014

Radioactive Iodine Treatment: Day 2 update

Hey guys! Im currently in day 2 of my radiation treatment and so far everything has gone fairly smooth. Let me back up for a minute to update you on the past week.

On Monday and Tuesday, March 31st and April 1, I had Thyrogen shots to prepare my body for radiation. One in each butt cheek. Nice. Before Thyrogen shots were available, one would have to stop taking their thyroid medication, causing them to go super hypothyroid. Like, "I can barely get out of bed or focus on what you're saying"-hypo.  I had no significant side effects from the shots besides slight fatigue at the end of Tuesday. So if insurance with pay for them, Thyrogen shots are the way to go!

I didn't sleep well Tuesday night, as I was anxious for the next day. I had to be at the hospital at 9:00 Wednesday morning to run the standard pregnancy tests. You cannot have this treatment if you are pregnant. I of course, was not pregnant. I knew this, but it was sad and weird to hear.

The next several hours consisted of a lot of waiting. I talked to the doctors who explained in science-terms what the radiation will do to my body, the risks, the precautions, and so forth. At noon they called me back to take the pill, which was in a heavy lead encasing. It looked like any other normal capsule, almost like a vitamin. Nothing too crazy. I didn't feel any different, but once I swallowed the pill I was instantly radioactive. Unfortunately, I was still unable to control objects with my mind or shoot spider webs from my wrists.

I immediately left the hospital, got in my car, and drove home to Fayetteville. (Josh did not come with me to Little Rock for this reason alone, as it was best not to be in the same car for the drive home.)

Now today is Friday and I'm practically 48 hours out. "Isolation" hasn't been too terrible so far; I can't share the bed with Josh or the dogs and they have to stay at least 6 feet away at all times. To pass the time I've watched the last season of Game of Thrones (the new season comes out on Sunday!), episodes of Friday Night Lights, and I've completed a lot of Sudoku puzzles. The radiation leaves my body through body fluids, namely bathroom activities, so I'm drinking water like it is my job and taking at least two showers a day. My neck/throat area is painful; sometimes it just feels sore and other times it feels like my throat is burning from the inside. This is to be expected, as this is the area the radiation is being absorbed the most. Also, I feel overall tired and achey, but that is common as well.

I'm overall pleased with the way things are going and I am SO thankful the past few days have been relatively easy. I've heard some horror stories and was preparing myself for the worst. The doctor also gave me the "okay" to resume a normal diet today, so I've already chowed down on a kolache and cinnamon roll and drank a big cup of milk. Delightful.

I go back to UAMS for a whole body scan on April 10th to see where in my body the radiation was absorbed, aka: where the cancer has spread. Please pray and plead with me that the cancer hasn't spread anywhere else and that we get a great and healthy report next week.

Now I'm off to order me a pizza. Yum!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Burdens

During difficult times it is easy to be overwhelmed by everything going wrong. Heck, that can be true during any time in life. The whole "look how unfair it all is!" and "my life sucks!" is so very selfish and human.

When I lay in bed each night, when all the to-do's are over and my half of the world is asleep, I can feel the waters trying to drown me. Thinking about how messed up things seem, how much I miss Olivia and the life we were supposed to have with her, how I wish I could breathe and talk normally again, how I worry about this stupid cancer. It is all overwhelming. Seemingly too much to handle. 

And tomorrow I have to do it all over again.

Do you feel that way sometimes? That life is too much. That there is no possible way you can handle all of the stresses, sadness, and disappointment of this world? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Luckily, we can choose to give it over to someone who is bigger than it all. We have someone who wants to take our sorrows and bring us true joy. Each day and each moment we must intentionally give it to Jesus. 

Do you know what he tells us? 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

Folks, the burdens of this world are way too much. I know I can't handle them. But his way is light and easy. And not only does he ask you to trade, but we will find rest!

Rest! That is music to my ears. 

I don't know about you, but I am tired. I am weary. And I have a lot of burdens.

So tonight, when I lay down and turn the noise of the world off, I won't let the storm consume me. I will choose to give my worries and disappointment over to him. I will trust in his promise of rest. And I will accept his gift. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Be still

This week my faith has been pulled in seemingly opposite directions. 

On one hand, I am being overwhelmed with everything going on. I'm frustrated, disappointed, sad, mad, and completely done. 

Dealing with Olivia's death would be enough for anyone. Add cancer to the mix, along with not being able to talk or breathe normally from surgery, and it becomes downright depressing. I'm unable to work, talk on the phone, or even exercise because it feels like I'm breathing through a straw. And now that I'm on this stupid diet to prepare for radiation, I can't even have a freaking brownie. 

But God doesn't promise us health. He doesn't promise us big happy families. He doesn't promise tomorrow. He promises us something greater. 

Jesus. An eternity of joy, peace, and love.
And that is enough. 

But how do I believe this and live this hard life as well? How do I hold on to the joy of Jesus but deal with the heartache of this world?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

I don't why understand everything in my life is happening. It all seems like a complete mess. But God doesn't see it that way. He has overcome this world. He has won. I must cling to the knowledge that he is God and that he will make good of it all. 

I am to merely trust and be still. 

I pray that each day I reset my thoughts, words and actions towards Him. That I see my life through God's eyes. I pray that I have joy through all the blessings He has given me, which are quite a lot. And I pray that despite being unsure of everything, that I can be at peace and know that He is in control. 

Everything is going to be okay. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pampering Myself: My first Stitch Fix

A few days ago I had a mini break down.

I was getting ready to leave the house and I wanted to wear something besides lounge pants and a sweat shirt, a mere miracle in itself. However, barely anything I own fits. My pregnancy clothes are too baggy and my pre-pregnancy clothes don't quite fit my new postpartum body. The result was lots of tears, a large mound of discarded clothes on the floor, and me finally leaving the house in Josh's t-shirt and the only pair of jeans that fit comfortably.

You would think that after all that I've gone through I would have a better perspective on life. That the silly concept of poor fitting clothes would be the last thing on my mind. With all the bad news we've been receiving, I just wanted to wear something, anything, that would make me look pretty.

As coincidence would have it, I had something waiting at my doorstep just a few days later. I signed up to receive my first Stitch Fix box several weeks ago and luckily it came right when I needed it.

If you aren't familiar with Stitch Fix, it is a personal styling service that delivers five items of clothing or accessories based on your personal style and budget. You can schedule the box as often as you want. You keep the things you like and send everything else back in a pre-paid envelope. There is a $20 styling fee that is deducted from the price of the items you keep. And if you decide to keep everything in your box you get a 25% discount.

When signing up I filled out a style profile that took about 10 minutes and connected my account to my Pinterest style board. This allowed my stylist to pick out items specific to my body type and preferences.

Seems too good to be true right? Especially for the fashion-challenged like myself. To be truthful, I have no idea what is in style. I can pick out individual pieces of clothing but I'm terrible at putting outfits together. And adding accessories? Shesh. I'm a mess. The fact that they include styling cards for inspiration on how to wear the items is the icing on the cake.

So lets see what was included in my first box.

(Please don't mind these awkward photos. I actually took these for my mom and now I'm too lazy to retake them.)

1. Pomelo Florence Colorblocked Dress $68.00
I really liked the cut of this dress. You can't tell in the photo but it draws in at the waist, creating a "tucked in" look. It is modest and flattering, but a bit on the pricey side for a simple spring dress. Keep.

2. 41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan $48.00
This top screams Alex. The color. The length. It's perfect. While I already have lots of cardigans, I don't have one that is quite this color. Keep.

3. Pomelo Aleah V-Neck Heathered Dolman Sleeve Shirt $48.00
I went back and forth on this one. I really liked the color but the cut was a little different. However, I feel comfortable in it as it flatters my un-toned tummy. Keep

4. Under Skies Angelica Pintuck 3/4 Sleeve Blouse $48.00
I love this top. It is almost identical to one I pinned to my Pinterest board. It is light and slightly sheer, making it perfect for spring and summer. Keep

5. Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry Lorelei Mini Round Stone Drop Earrings $58.00
These earrings are also similar to something on my Pinterest board, which my stylist recommended to pair with the Under Skies shirt. They are more expensive than I typically spend but much higher quality as well. Keep.

Thats right. I kept them all. The 25% discount, paired with the need for clothes for my new body, made the decision easy. I can't remember the last time I purchased clothes "just because" and figured I should treat myself. With all the not-fun things in my life, I needed to give myself a little pampering.

I already scheduled my next box to come in May and I can't wait. I've read reviews which say your boxes only get better as your stylist learns more and more of what you like (You comment on all the items in your box so your stylist knows what you liked, didn't like, and why).

Such a fun idea. Right?

Please use my referral link if you want to get your own Stitch Fix. It will give me $25 to put toward my next box and you will get a fun and personalized box at your front door!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Radiation, here I come!

Hey folks. Alex here. Minus a thyroid, four lymph nodes, and a dollop of fat. I kid you not. The operative report literally stated they removed a dollop of fat. Now that's a bargain!

Don't mind that gross drain thing.
It was removed a few days after surgery.

My surgery on Feb 25 went well. It was confirmed that the cancer had spread to a few lymph nodes, which is what my endocrinologist suspected. However, what they didn't expect was how large the actual tumor was. This resulted in some trauma to my laryngeal nerves (which impacts voice and swallowing) and parathyroids (which helps control calcium levels).

So while the surgeon is happy with the procedure, recovery has been a bit more difficult than I expected. Three weeks later I am slowly weaning off my calcium medication but my parathyroid is still not wanting to fully cooperate. When my calcium levels drop, my hands, feet, nose, and lips tingle and go numb. While it may not be the worst thing in the world, it certainly isn't fun.

But the most debilitating side effect is the loss of my voice. The ENT had to pull the tumor off my laryngeal nerve but he was confident the nerves remained intact. The swelling and mild trauma has made it difficult to drink and I am only able to talk barely over a whisper. I am thankful this has slightly improved over the past few weeks, but I am far from normal. There is no way I can work until this has resolved. Good thing I know a skilled speech therapist who rocks at dysphagia and voice therapy!

Because of the tumor's size and confirmation that the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes, the doctors recommend that I proceed with radioactive iodine treatment. I began a low-iodine diet March 17th to prepare my body for treatment on April 2nd. I will then be isolated from people and pets (6+ ft) for 14 days. I have a packed schedule full of finishing House of Cards, taking long walks, and reorganizing my closet.

So, there you have it. An update, a plan, and some specific things that you can pray for. And trust me, the prayers are being felt. While days are still hard, I have a hope and peace that only comes from God.

Micah 7:8 "Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light."

God is good. All the time.