Gifts for Dad ➔

Two years ago today I had my throat cut open at 20 weeks pregnant.

The doctors removed my thyroid and over 30 lymph nodes. It took six hours for them to finish surgery because the cancer was so close to my jugular vein. The cancer was in both nodes of my Thyroid and has spread to five lymph nodes.

Six months before that I had felt a lump in my neck. I figured it was a lymph node and would work itself out. Six weeks later it was still there. I finally went to the doctor expecting them to dismiss it and send me home but the look on the PA’s face as she felt my neck made my stomach drop.

Pretty soon there were three medical professionals in the room, asking questions and poking me. They immediately sent me to have an ultrasound and the results from that test made them order a needle biopsy.

I was walking out the door on my way to work when I got the phone call asking me to come in to the doctor’s office for my results. I knew it was cancer when they wouldn’t tell me over the phone.

The next few weeks were a blur of doctor’s visits, specialists and appointments. But it all came to a halt when I took a pregnancy test that came out positive.

We were supposed to be done having kids. We had two, a girl and a boy, and my husband was scheduled for a vasectomy. I couldn’t believe that I was pregnant again, on top of a cancer diagnosis, it didn’t seem fair.

I didn’t know what to do. Could I keep the baby? Was the baby at risk? Would this affect my pregnancy? Was I risking my life by delaying treatment?

I decided to see a specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the best teaching hospital in our area. The endocrinologist and surgeon both assured me that surgery could wait until the baby was further along and that we would both be fine.

So wait we did.

At 20 weeks pregnant I finally went into the hospital for surgery. It was a success. I was told to go home, grow a healthy baby and come back for follow up treatment when she was weaned.

My daughter was born in June 2015, a happy and very healthy girl. It was a very difficult pregnancy but an easy, pretty quick birth of an easy, laid back baby. I planned to nurse for a year and then start weaning her.

But it is hard to wean your last baby. Hard to say no to that perfect little face. Hard to give up the sleepy, quiet snuggles. So we kept going. She got to nurse for 18 months before we finally called it quits.

Now I am preparing for Radioactive Iodine treatment this Spring. I am looking forward to being done with this whole journey. Being able to say I am finally Cancer Free!

Thyroid Cancer is the fastest increasing cancer among both men and women. It affects people of all ages but luckily, is very treatable. Many doctors told me it was “the good kind of cancer.” I hate that term but they are right. With the treatments available it has a 94% survival rate.

Still, if you feel a lump in your neck or have trouble swallowing, please visit your doctor right away. They can do a quick neck check to see if there is a reason to worry. Don’t wait like I did!

For more information visit ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association Inc.

Emma Bates

Emma Bates is lucky enough to be a mother to three awesome children, ages 7, 5 and 1 and wife to her best friend. She is crazy enough to try and run an online business or two, including working as VA and running her blog Kids, Cash and Chaos. She lives in rural NH surrounded by extended family and some cows. Emma is passionate about ice cream, that first sip of coffee in the morning and helping other mothers start their own businesses.

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

When You’re Barely Hanging On, It’s OK to Ask For Help

In: Cancer, Living, Motherhood
Worn mailbox, color photo

I’m a bundle full of fun. My list of fun things include being diagnosed with cancer at age 33, having the BRAC1 gene mutation, doing six months of oral chemo, having a hysterectomy at 34, my ovaries and tubes out at 34, enduring a double mastectomy, and a million scans and procedures under my belt, followed by five months of oral chemo. I was a stay-at-home mom during this time with a 7, 5, and 2-year-old.  Sometimes I feel like I experienced a whole lifetime in one short snapshot of a year.   At the beginning of my diagnosis, our mailbox...

Keep Reading

This is What Cancer Looks Like

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Mother lying on bed with toddler sprawled across her, color photo

While I was going through active treatment and recovering from procedures and surgeries, certain moments during the day triggered this thought in my head, This is what cancer looks like. I envisioned a still shot of that moment and that title above it. One of the first times I had this thought was when I was lying on the couch watching my daughter play. I was fatigued and my heart was racing, but I was still a mom needing to supervise my 2-year-old.  She came over and held my hand.  This is what cancer looks like. In the days following...

Keep Reading

Cancer is Not in Charge

In: Cancer, Living
Mother with bald head holding child, color photo

My entire life, I’ve felt much pride and comfort in being a person who was highly organized, a planner, someone who truly enjoys predictability. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, everything that encompassed my normal way of living was disrupted. And there was no way to fix it. This was not a good feeling—frankly, it sucked. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three young children. My first thoughts after my breast cancer diagnosis were how this was going to affect them. Would they even still have a mother in a year? These are terribly hard things to think about when you...

Keep Reading

But Dad, We Were Supposed To Have More Time

In: Cancer, Grief
Man smiling at camera

September 5, 2015 was one of the worst days of my life. It was the day I found out my dad had “it.” The word I expected but didn’t want to face.  Cancer.  Stage 4 in his lungs, bones, and spine. A week later we were told he had about six months left with us.  Six months.  A half of a year.  He was only 55. People nowadays can live to be over 100. How was it possible that he was only going to live half of a life?  They were going to be releasing him from the hospital so he...

Keep Reading

I’ll Never Go To a Seafood Restaurant With Her Again

In: Cancer, Grief
Woman alone at table

I am 19 years old and it is the smack dab middle of summer and I am sitting outside—al fresco—at my parents’ favorite restaurant at a small, round, wrought iron table on an uneven slab of cobblestone bricks. Ropes of twinkle lights hang above our heads and spool in circles around lush green plants in terra cotta pots in the corners of the courtyard. The stemware here is so thin I imagine one gust of air from a sneeze might shatter my glass into a million tiny pieces. RELATED: Don’t Take Your Mom For Granted—I’d Give Anything to Have Mine...

Keep Reading

An Open Letter To the New Cancer Mom

In: Cancer, Child, Loss, Motherhood
Oncology room childhood cancer

This is an open letter to the early days me—when my son’s cancer diagnosis was first spoken over him—and to any other cancer moms out there drifting, surviving, and rising through the trauma. The early days, those raw, pouring, dripping emotions fresh from Elijah’s diagnosis day, 2-year-old Elijah, my son. “It’s leukemia,” said the kind-eyed ER physician. His eyes were so big and brown, mirroring Elijah’s signature feature. Another signature feature of Elijah’s—his long curly beautifully golden hair—soon to be falling on pillows, on rugs, in bathtub drains, until the day he bravely said I am ready to shave it...

Keep Reading

Cancer is Something I Carry With Me Now

In: Cancer, Living
Woman showing scar on chest, black-and-white photo

Two years ago in the winter of 2019, I found out I had breast cancer. I was a young new mother and completely terrified. Fast forward to today and I am healthy, have an amazing thriving two-year-old, and am planning my wedding with my perfectly imperfect soulmate. My hair has grown back thicker and wavier even than before, my body is my own again. I have found the confidence to build my blossoming writing career from scratch and am happier than I have ever been. You hear about this happening, people turning their lives around after cancer. I’m not the...

Keep Reading

My Mother’s Love Will Never Die

In: Cancer, Grief, Loss
Mother daughter

The night my mother passed away, my sister and I, along with our families sat by her side. We held her hand as she took her last breath. We talked to her and lingered near her side until they came to take her away. It was so very sacred. I couldn’t believe she was really gone. She had battled uterine cancer and was staying at my sister’s home to be cared for full time for the last four months. I had arrived from out of state only two weeks prior, and we spent every minute together, day and night until...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections