I wrote this yesterday and didn’t know whether to post it or not, but …what the heck.
As I type this, I’m supposed to be preparing to be wheeled back into the operating room. I’ve never shared anything about any health issues on the blog (and I do say “health issues” very lightly), but this blog is all about sharing, so I figured I’d just start typing and see what comes out.
Back in December, I visited an ENT because I just could not get rid of a chest cold and thought it could be a bigger problem than allergies or a sinus infection. Well, that chest congestion I was experiencing turned out to be acid reflux. I was prescribed some medicine and out the door I went.
I went back to the doctor for a followup appointment a few weeks later. My doctor felt around my ears and throat -just basic protocol. But this time, he felt a mass on my thyroid and recommended that I immediately get it looked at by an Otolaryngologist. So I did …and after bloodwork, a couple ultrasounds, and a very uncomfortable set of fine needle aspirations, I was told they are about 95% sure it’s benign. My doctor recommended that I eventually have surgery to remove half of my thyroid (they can’t take off only the nodule itself), just to be sure, but there wasn’t a huge rush.
Since that day, I haven’t been able to escape the 5% chance that I have thyroid cancer from my mind. But this was three months before our wedding. Personally, I just couldn’t undergo surgery that close to the wedding and have a big scar on my neck in all of my wedding photos. I knew I could wait until the big day was behind us, reevaluate my thyroid nodule, and make a decision during a less intense time of my life.
Six months passed and, as instructed, I had another ultrasound to check out my nodule. It hadn’t grown significantly, but the blood flow through it had increased and it had more solid components, both of which are big warning signs. Before I knew it, I had a call from my doctor saying I needed to come back into his office to talk about having the surgery to remove it. You see, the things that doctor’s don’t like to see in a nodule…well, I have all of them in mine. It’s hyper-vascular (lots of blood flow running through it), it’s not liquid (mine is part solid making it “complex”), and it’s greater than 1cm (mine is over 3cm). I was told that I could receive robotic surgery to remove it, which would only cause a scar under my arm instead of across my neck.
Now let’s fast forward to today. 11:23am on Thursday, October 19th. Just seven minutes before my surgery was supposed to start. But instead, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch and what time I’m going to hit the gym today. My surgery was cancelled pretty late in the game yesterday because of a hold the FDA put on the type of surgery I was set to have. There was no way my doctor could operate.
My doctor was one of the first five doctors in the US to receive training for this type of procedure using the Da Vinci Robot. He’s extremely skilled and I trust him very much. However, other doctors across the country, who hadn’t received proper training, have been using the Da Vinci Robot to perform thyroidectomies and have had some catastrophic results. So, the FDA gave them a big slap on the wrist and stopped the use of this robot for thyroid surgery everywhere in the United States. My surgeon found this out less than 24 hours before my surgery was to take place and I was notified immediately. The nurse told me that I was the first patient they haven’t been able to operate on robotically.
When things like this happen -sudden changes in our plans that are disappointing- it’s sometimes hard to remember that this is in fact God’s plan for us. I believe that there must be a reason I was not supposed to undergo surgery with the Da Vinci Robot today. My other option is to have traditional surgery, but this would place the scar on my neck, which let’s be real… would be ok. I can deal with the scar. But I did have it built up in my head that I would be able to receive robotic surgery, which would just cause a tiny scar under my arm instead. So you can imagine my disappointment, but then again, my relief that this happened because it must be for a reason. Psalm 112:7 tells us “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”
Another reason I’m writing this is to bring awareness to the subject. My doctor told me that it’s amazing how many people have thyroid nodules, but aren’t aware of it. I don’t know how long I’ve had this thyroid nodule and really, I don’t know when I would have found out about it had I not seen my ENT for chest congestion. I can see my nodule when I tilt my head back, but it isn’t something that had ever caught my eyes in the past.
You may have heard of Tarek from the HGTV show, Flip or Flop. He recently battled thyroid cancer (read about it here). His nodule was discovered by a nurse who happened to be watching the show and recognized it on his throat. She knew what to look for because of her profession and immediately called his agent to notify him. That nodule ended up being thyroid cancer. I don’t know if mine is cancerous… most chances are that it’s not. But, I’m thankful for the congestion I had, which is the sole reason my nodule was discovered. There was a great reason for that chest cold and likewise, there’s a reason I’m not in surgery right now as planned. I’m completely trusting in the plans God has for having it removed, even if that means having the traditional thyroidectomy with the scar on my neck.
Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.