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February 27, 2013

The problem with optimism

The problem, of course, with my resilient and cheerful “It’s just a cyst!” response to last week’s lump discovery is that when an ultrasound suggests it’s something more suspicious than that, being optimistic just starts to seem stupid. Which is why I’ve spent many of the last 20 hours crying, imagining myself having the rarest form of thyroid cancer that has no treatment and kills in six months, and why the poor woman who made the mistake of asking how I was this morning was met with me bursting into tears. If you thought I was planning my funeral last week, it’s got nothing on what’s happened since. And baby has been kicking away like a mad-fetus, is healthy as ever, but this isn’t really consoling, actually, because I just keep thinking, “You can’t be here without me.”

And so the fact of the matter is that yesterday’s ultrasound revealed suspicious results and I am being referred to for a biopsy. I am really scared, not of a biopsy or even surgery, but of more bad news that is the opposite of what I’m expecting to hear. I am also nervous because I know that being in the third trimester of pregnancy complicates things, and that I wouldn’t be able to have surgery until after our baby comes. I keep desperately googling various combination of terms in an effort to finally stumble on the site that says, “You, Kerry, are going to be fine,” but I haven’t found that one yet. Even though I know that there is a good chance the lump is benign, and that even if it isn’t, that it can be treated, and that the survival rate for thyroid cancer is 97%, and these are the things I keep trying to remember, but it is hard to stay grounded. I have always had this weird tendency to see worry as insurance too, and fear that being optimistic will only trip things up and make everything fall apart.

I picked up Ina-May’s Guide to Breastfeeding at the library yesterday, and thought, “How on earth am I going to find time to read this book?” And then I heard from my doctor and it all seemed more and more unlikely. How does anyone ever has time for any of this? And how do you bear the waiting, the unknowing, the uncertainty (which is basically what life is, usually we can fool ourselves into thinking it’s less precarious)? What is giving me a little bit of peace though is imagining the summer, our baby here, leaves on the trees, and I do suppose the whole “not being dead” thing is going to give the post-partum days a rather glorious perspective. In the meantime, however, it is hard to just wait.

9 thoughts on “The problem with optimism”

  1. theresa says:

    I send best wishes from the west coast and hope for a really good outcome. Useless to say, Concentrate on your baby and the other wonderful things in your life, but in a day or two you might be able to find a perspective that allows for that. (I went through a health scare last month and it had a happy ending. So this is entirely possible and even highly probable!)

  2. m says:

    Oh Kerry, sending so much love to you right now. xoxoxo

  3. Jeez, Kerry, I do not envy you the waiting. And it’s not like carrying/having a baby is not anxiety-inducing enough in itself…

    Seems this is a week of tears: my dad died Saturday and we had to put the cat down this morning. The little ones were beside themselves with grief. There’s no option but to move forward, is there?

    Here’s the warmest and most hopeful of thoughts coming to you from across the internet. And a hug thrown in for good measure.

    Kindest, Andrea xo

  4. Everything is going to be fine. Thinking of you.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Well I have read your blog for a while now and have never commented but feel a little compelled to offer some comfort (I hope!). Several years ago I had my thyroid removed as I had a goitre on one side and nodules on the other. I had the condition for a few years before the decision was made to operate. If that turns out to be your route it is tougher to anticipate the surgery, in my opinion, than the actual surgery. Recovery is fairly quick and although you take medication for the rest of your life, life carries on pretty normally. There are many other less drastic treatments but, what ever actions are deemed necessary, I hope you can find reassurance in that this is a very treatable condition/disease. I don’t know if you remember a few years ago Olivia Chow was advised from a viewer/doctor who saw her on t.v. to have her thyroid looked at as they could see evidence of a lump on her neck. As it turned out she took the advice and was treated successfully. I think you are a bit younger than the average woman who experiences this but it is quite common for women. You have not said whether your thyroid continues to function properly but I assume it is, so that is a good sign I believe. I think the positive is that you discovered the lump and are dealing with it. I think as the shock wears off a bit you will be able to take the deep breaths that are so necessary for relaxing. Take care.

  6. Kerry says:

    I am feeling so much better. Thanks so much for your comments, everyone. Andrea, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. And the grey, grey February doesn’t help the soul feel more bouyant, but the thought of crocuses is what does it for me. Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your experience. Everything is going to be fine. It feels nice to exit my melodramatic wallowing. Thanks for making that happen. xo

  7. Kate T. says:

    I’m a longtime reader, also pregnant with my second baby and due in May, so I’ve been reading more earnestly than usual in the past months. Sending you lots of positive thoughts as you get this figured out. Be gentle with yourself until then.

  8. theresa says:

    The thought of crocuses — a beautiful thing to imagine… So let me share this: we are rebuilding our garden after our drain field gave up the ghost and had to be repaired. This meant moving all the plants that grew over that large area (i.e., most of the vegetable garden, including many many bulbs growing on the edges of the beds. I dug up as many as I could before the work got done but missed a lot because they weren’t even up yet). The other day I was filling a wheelbarrow with soil that the drain field guy had scraped to one side, a huge pile of it, and found a purple crocus blooming underneath about a foot of that soil! A small miracle…Here’s to bouyant souls and to crocuses. Bless you.

  9. Beth-Anne says:

    The waiting is the hardest part. Wishing you a reprieve from your darkest thoughts. You are in my most positive ones.

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