Tag Archive | surgery

Won’t give up.

After a week of coping with what is going on with my brother’s battle with stage 4c papillary thyroid cancer and coming to grips with what my Dad said last night, I simply needed an evening alone…. a simple evening at home.  Alone.  An evening to create.

My brother needs surgery. A difficult, complicated surgery. Life saving surgery.

My Dad is dealing with chronic kidney disease and told me that he’d refuse kidney dialysis if his kidney disease got that bad. We had a short, unhappy conversation about that. It ended abruptly.

My coping skills were less than stellar today. I needed a distraction when I got home from work.

I am making a quilt. I wanted, no, needed to work on it. I love fabric. I love color. I love creating something, basically from next to nothing. Creating something from an idea. Creating…. soothes my soul.

While I was working on my project – a baby quilt for my great-niece to be, such a life affirming project – I was listening to Sirius radio through my satellite television connection. One of my favorite music groups came on.


With one of my favorite songs.

“Calling All Angels”, just what I needed to hear.

The song mirrored my need for my Mom to help my family.
To help me cope with all this.
To help my family cope with all this.
To help me, help them.

“I need a sign, to let me know you’re here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know, that things are gonna look up
‘Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup”

“When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you can feel the world shake from the words that are said”

“And I’m, calling all Angels  (—me— calling my Angel)
And I’m, calling all you Angels”

“And I won’t give up, if you don’t give up
I won’t give up, if you don’t give up
I won’t give up, if you don’t give up
I won’t give up, if you don’t give up”

“I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me”

“And I’m, calling all Angels  (—me— calling my Angel)
And I’m, calling all you Angels”

Read more: Train – Calling All Angels Lyrics | MetroLyrics

So…. I am calling on my Angel….

I am channeling Mom, more each day.

And, since I know she won’t give up.

I won’t give up.


In Between

Last week my brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 32-wedding anniversary in Rochester, Minnesota.

They weren’t truly celebrating in Rochester by their own choice. They had traveled to Minnesota so that my brother could be examined by specialists. His local endocrinologist had sent him there for highly specialized care.

My brother and his doctor are battling stage 4c papillary thyroid cancer. He’s endured having his thyroid removed, two sessions of radioactive iodine and countless examinations. He’s endured being told that ‘this is the best kind of cancer to have’……. whatever that statement means. He’s endured two surgeries and recovery periods. He’s endured nerve pain and dealing with the scarring due to those surgeries. He’s endured bouts of sleeplessness and swelling that hampers his swallowing. He’s endured the balance of getting enough rest and trying to get back to work. He’s endured his own concern for his family and the high cost of treatment.

Last Friday, my brother called me to let me know of the results of all this testing which included a painful biopsy of tissues in his neck. (I was wrong in thinking that what I read online the day before was correct, that the biopsy would not be all that painful. I know that my brother has a high pain tolerance, so I know that it really hurt.) He told me that he met with a team of specialists.

The surgeon and endocrinologist told him that at this point, surgery was no longer an option, it is a MUST. Beam radiation treatments won’t get all the cancer cells.

The two previous treatments of radioactive iodine had not done their intended job. Now, the small amount of cancer cells that had hidden during the thyroidectomy have grown in number and have become aggressive.

The surgeon gave my brother detailed information regarding the surgery. He also gave him the golf analogy “a hard lie” to express the difficulty of the surgery. Even though my brother does not play golf, he understood the stark reference.

Now he was caught in between a difficult surgery, a known painful recovery and an unknown quality of life … or …. worse, if no treatment, way worse.

A tentative surgery date was schedule.

That’s a lot to digest and deal with.  Calls to family had to be made. Results had to be relayed.

And… as if ALL this was not enough, my brother called me the next day to tell me that the insurance company was balking at coverage. They stated the Mayo Clinic is ‘out of network’ and if that did not change and he went ahead with the surgical treatment there he would be financially responsible for half the cost. I did my best to assure him he’d have help paying for the treatment if he were to go ahead with it. I’d help to pay every month for as long as it took. I’d enlist other family to help him too. He said that they’d have to jump through hoops to get the insurance company to authorize the treatment whether in his home state at a facility approved by the company or after looking over the exam records possibly allowing treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

My brother is caught. Caught in between.

In between the specialists who know how difficult and yet how necessary this surgical treatment is and the insurance company not prepared to cover the cost at a facility ‘out of network.’

In between the necessary treatment and great concern for being so far in debt that he’d never get out.

A tough place to be, yes, ‘a hard lie.’

And, in between the team of specialists and the insurance company.

My brother’s quality of life.

In between

My brother’s life.

Exams of a Lifetime

Early this morning I sent a text to my brother to say:
“We’re with you. We love you.”

I had to get it to him early because he is currently in a time zone two hours ahead of the one I am in. My inner alarm went off before the alarm on my clock, so I had no trouble getting that message to him. He greeted me with a “Good morning!” and a wish for a great day, signed off with a “Love you too.”

After his initial meet and greet assessment appointment at the Mayo Clinic he sent me another text.

“Sounds like more scanning and biopsy. Will meet with surgeon Friday to see if surgery is possible. No more radioactive iodine as it didn’t work on my June scans and apparently not effective in December. External beam radiation back home if no surgery indicated.”

A bit later he texted me his schedule for the day.
10:40 Labs
1:15 Chest x-ray
1:45 Neck Ultrasound
3:05 Neck CT

and the schedule for Thursday (the day he and my sister-in-law celebrate their 32 wedding anniversary):
9:30 Ultrasound Biopsy of Neck

and for Friday:
1:30 ENT Surgical Consult
3:30 followup with Endocrinologist

Possibly the most important exams he will ever have.

At this point his whereabouts and schedule for next week are all up in the air.  All depends on IF. With this advanced stage of thyroid cancer still being in his body, becoming more aggressive and having hidden in some deep recesses of some difficult to get to places, the answer to the question IF surgery is a viable option is unknown.

The reason for all these exams today.
The reason for the biopsy tomorrow.
The reason for the consultation with specialists the next day.
The reason he is at the Mayo Clinic.

He is a beloved family man, son, brother and friend.

The one person, other than my parents, whom I have known the longest in my lifetime.
My brother, just five years younger than me.
My brother who makes me laugh because of the obscure, funny stuff he remembers from our childhood – sometimes all he has to do is look at me when something triggers one of those memories and we’ll share a big smile or laugh out loud for a while.
My brother who still remembers theme songs to several of the television shows we watched as kids.
My brother who is so supportive of me, who has counseled me on so many things and was audibly one of the happiest people when he found out I was going to marry Jeff – because he knew how happy I was.

I truly wish that I could be there with him, now, as he is going through some of the toughest exams of this life.