For Our Butterfly
On Sunday, I’m participating in a 4 hour cycling event called Cycle for Survival. I mentioned this event a few weeks ago, but I didn’t really elaborate too much on the most important point:
Why am I riding?
Answer: Because Frank is.
(Just kidding. He wanted me to say that.)
I’m riding for many reasons. Most importantly, I’m riding in memory of my Granddad — one of the most loving people that has ever walked the face of this earth. Cancer took him away from us too soon and I miss him every single day.
On a lighter note, I’m also riding to celebrate my beautiful friend Kristen. I’m actually going to hand today’s post over to her. She has an important story that she’d like to share.
Take it away, KP!
“Let’s take a trip back to December 2010. It was a cold winter night and a recent college graduate had just left work after a late night at the office. She was in the train station hungry for anything that resembled food. She decided to take a quick pit stop at Jamba Juice and grabbed the first thing off of the refrigerator shelf. As she entered the train and inhaled her food, she automatically knew something was wrong. An allergic reaction and another hour left in her trip home. A frantic call to her mother and plotting the next move in her head left her standing in a bar, with the snow falling, waiting for her mother and Benadryl.
Some people would call this bad luck. I call it an act of God.
From that night on, she was occasionally getting the same feeling, thinking her throat was closing. Convinced it was her mind playing tricks, she finally had the smarts to go to her physician to get examined. Inconclusive test results left her doctor wondering, and thought she should go get a sonogram since it could be muscular and that may shed some light to what she had been experiencing. A casual trip to a radiologist in February didn’t leave her thinking twice. Ironically, being examined by the same technician who did the sonogram on her mother when she was in utero left her on the table thinking about how old this guy must be and whether she would catch the next train in order to get to work on time.
Her thought stream was interrupted when the technician advised that she had a nodule on her thyroid that she needed to have biopsied. She has a what? Since when? What does that mean? It meant the next step was to find an endocrinologist and have her nodule examined. So she did. By now it was March and she was laying on the examining table with a needle in her neck and wondering how this had all happened so fast and what was going to happen next. The first needle didn’t work, so along came a second try. She knew that couldn’t be good. But she left and did as she was told and waited for the results. 3 days later, she heard the official news. Answering her phone at work she listened to the doctor explain, “There are abnormal cells on the nodule and you will need surgery and have your thyroid removed. Don’t worry it’s only stage 1.” Her first thought: How am I going to tell my parents? My younger sisters? Why? How?
Walking home from work she was trying to craft the perfect script on how to break the news. On the train ride home, she couldn’t help but wonder: was this something I did wrong? Was this the result of too many Villanova cheesesteaks and dollar drinks? Was this something I could have prevented? Why me? What now?
Coming home and telling her parents was one of the scariest moment of her life. She had to be strong. She had to show them she was okay and that she wasn’t frightened. She had to be logical and think of next steps and decide on a plan of action. She just couldn’t say the word cancer… so the family referred to it as abnormal. She fit the bill for that description anyway. 😉
An endocrinologist and an oncologist surgeon plus many appointments, tests, pokes, and prodding later lead to a date: May 19, 2011. This was the date set for her thyroidectomy. She was only 23. Conveniently, this date landed right after her busiest season at work. A blessing in disguise; she was entrenched in work and didn’t have time to think about what was to come. That was, until the day of her surgery finally arrived all too quickly.
She entered the hospital in the wee hours of the morning and said “see you in a little” to her family. She walked into the operating room, slightly disappointed at the lack of McDreamy’s and McSteamy’s, and joked to the anesthesiologist to give her a nice long nap. When she woke up groggy, all she wanted was a massage and to see her family. When she really woke up for the second time, she was rolled to her hospital room where her family and a few unexpected visitors were awaiting her arrival. She will never forget the feeling when she saw them. Overwhelmed with emotion, she began to cry. She told them it was the anesthesia making her eyes leak. But between us, it was the stress, the fear, the relief, and all the love rolling down her cheeks. She knew this would be the beginning of a new journey and new challenges; opening her eyes to the people who would be there for her during those times made her realize, she would be ok.
This is my story. Yes, I have to take a pill every morning to give my body the thyroid hormones it needs. Yes, I need to be checked and scanned twice a year. Yes, I will have to over come battles in the future. Yes, I may have times of fear. But I am a 2 year thyroid cancer survivor! Although cancer has changed my life, it has also left me more reflective, more appreciative, and very inspired to make a difference in ending this terrible disease.
I know many of you have your own stories too, since cancer has many forms and touches so many of us through family and friends. I am asking you to consider donating to our Cycle for Survival team, in hopes that one day we will find a cure.
One of the best things about being a survivor is having the opportunity to give back in many ways and hoping to touch the life of a fellow fighter. My team and I are truly invested in this event. We do it willingly, with passion and purpose. Cycle for Survival is a cause that unites all of us, all ages, all sizes, expert cyclists to first time riders. Please consider helping our team by donating anything you can!
Cancer may have changed my life, but I hope to one day save someone else’s.
Thank you, my love!
Our team is AMAZING and has already surpassed our fundraising goal. Now, with just 2 days to go, we’re aiming to hit $10,000. If you would like to donate, you can do so HERE. It would mean the absolute world to us.
We promise to cycle our hearts out. Better yet, we will FLY!