August 21, 2012

Cancer SUCKS

There's no way around it...cancer sucks. 

Scott went in for a routine physical.  He hadn't had one for a couple of years and now that he's over 30, he realized it's time to start paying closer attention to his health.  While feeling around on the left side of Scott's neck, the doctor noticed some swelling in a lymph node.  He wasn't too concerned, this is fairly common, but asked Scott to set up an appointment with an ENT for follow-up.

A month or two later, Scott met with an ENT who didn't think much of it either, but recommended a CT scan just to make sure.  The scan showed 7 enlarged lymph nodes measuring up to 2 cm in diameter.  At first we thought they'd be able to do a needle biopsy but then the doctor told us they would need to do surgery to remove an entire lymph node for testing to get adequate sample size.  The biopsy was scheduled for May 24th.

After what seemed like an eternity, Scott was in recovery and I got a chance to speak with the doctor.  She told me that everything went well and upon visual examination it looked cancerous and her best guess was Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Excuse me?  I don't know if I heard anything after that.  My ears started ringing and tears started flowing.  I just wanted to see my husband.

I was escorted back to recovery where Scott was very slowly waking up.  Looking at me with crazy anesthesia eyes, he asked me how it went.  I was hoping the doctor would peek her head in at any moment to break the news.  NO SUCH LUCK.  I had to tell my husband that there's a good chance that he has cancer.  WOW.

We were told that it could take up to 2 weeks to get results but to our surprise, we got a call the next morning.  On May 25th, just 5 days before we found out about the twins, Scott was diagnosed with Stage II Papillary Carcinoma of the Thyroid.  Thyroid cancer.

Our world was rocked.  We began researching and educating ourselves on this type of cancer and shared the news with our family.  While no cancer should ever be taken lightly, we're comforted in the fact that this type of cancer combined with Scott's age and treatment advances should equal a positive prognosis.

We connected with the local ThyCa Support Group where we were given a wealth of information and a fabulous doctor recommendation.

Days later, we met with Dr. Shelby Holt at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  She was kind, knowledgeable and approachable.  But more importantly, she performs this surgery 9 times a week and patients come from all over the region to see her.  We knew Scott was in good hands.

The plan was surgery followed by radiation.  The entire thyroid and the surrounding lymph nodes needed to be removed as well as the 6 remaining lymph nodes on the left side of Scott's neck.  Then, Lord willing, the radiation would take care of the rest. 

Surgery was scheduled for July 25th.  We knew it would be a long one.  The doctor estimated 4-6 hours.  The possible complications were explained again and again which included permanent voice damage as well as permanent nerve damage, loss of parathyroids (body's ability to absorb calcium) among other.  We met with the anesthesiologist and it was go time. 
Feeling nervous but ready.
The IV and many bracelets.
Here you can see the original scar from the biopsy.
This bracelet made us laugh in the midst of the crazy.
Still smiling, Scott has had an incredible attitude throughout EVERYTHING.

Scott was wheeled back through the double doors and I had to remain in the waiting room.  My heart sank and I began to pray.  This was going to be a L-O-N-G day.
I wasn't sure if I'd want visitors but it really helped to have family there.  We nervously chatted the hours away.  Each hour, one of the nurses in the room with Scott would call me to give updates.  She was super upbeat, kind and kept telling me that everything was going great.  Praise the Lord.
I even got a visit from this little guy...our sweet nephew, Ethan!
6 hours later, Scott was in recovery.  We all breathed a BIG sigh of relief.  I spoke with the anesthesiologist and doctor who both had nothing but good things to say.   Thank goodness we had an experienced team working on him, his tumor ended up being close to 3 cm and they removed around 70 lymph nodes during the neck dissection.  Everything went well and I was beyond relieved and grateful.

After about 45 minutes of nothing, I bugged the nurses and they walked me back to recovery.  I was so happy to see my sweet husband.  He was exhausted and looked weak but was mustering up enough energy to laugh about the crazy old man on the other side of the curtain.  THAT'S my husband.

It took about another hour to get Scott a bed but it was nice to be in the same, quiet room with him.  He was extremely nauseous and it was a long 2 nights in the hospital. 
Without a thyroid, Scott's magnesium and calcium levels were low.
The regular bed was too short!  Here's the extension that he got somewhere around 3am.
Brave kiddo.
My lovely bed.
The babies were there too!

Scott's dad brought up signs so Scott didn't have to use his voice.  This one was his favorite.
2 hours after we were told we could go home, we finally got to leave!
Scott dressed and VERY ready to go.
On July 27th, around 2:00, Scott was released to go home.  He still had one drain that would need to be removed in a few days.  Regardless, we were thrilled to be leaving.

The past few weeks without a thyroid have been tough for Scott.  The most prevalent symptoms have been extreme fatigue, dizziness, migraines and forgetfulness but he's hanging in there like a champ.

Scott's been on a low-iodine diet for nearly 2 weeks now.   It's basically fresh fruit, veggies and natural processed food at all.  We're grateful we have a Whole Foods down the street.  Anyways, the thyroid requires iodine to do thyroid cancer cells.  He's depriving the cancer of iodine so that when he takes radioactive iodine, the cancer will soak it up like a sponge and hopefully, kill it all off.  Radiation is today at 11am.

If there's anyone that can handle's my husband.  He's been so brave, strong and has such a great attitude throughout everything.  Though it's hard to understand going through cancer at 31, he's not angry.  He understands that anger won't make things better.  He's realistic about his diagnosis, treatment, and the roller coaster towards feeling "normal" again.  This is a lifelong journey and he never ceases to amaze me.  Needless to say, I'm proud.

The good news is that God is in control and we find peace in that.  Please keep Scott in your prayers throughout this challenging time.  Thank you.

August 18, 2012


I just made the CUTEST and YUMMIEST Oreo pops for our baseball themed gender reveal party last week and wanted to share.  They were a BIG hit!  Here's how they turned out:
Oreo Pops (this will make about 3 dozen):
1 box of Double Stuf Oreos (I used the half regular/half golden...YUM)!
1 brick of almond bark
4" lollipop sticks (I buy mine at Hobby Lobby)
wax paper...A LOT of wax paper
I always make my oreo pops the day before my event. 
Melt one cube of the almond bark according to the directions on the package.  Dip the end of each stick into the melted almond bark and then push into the cookies.  I push them almost all the way through.  At this point, you can realign cookies that are crooked.  Allow to completely cool.  If you skip this'll be sorry!
Melt half of the remaining almond bark into a shallow dish (see below).  Melt the other half when needed.  There are many ways to coat the cookies.  I started by dipping one side in and using a knife to coat and smooth.  This worked well, but dipping and dragging worked much better.  Dip one side in, drag it across the dish, making sure to get a good coat, then flip and do the same on the other side.  Use the edge of the dish or a knife to remove the excess so it doesn't pool on the wax paper.  Allow to completely cool on the wax paper.  As you can see from the pic...they're not perfect AT ALL...though it doesn't really end up mattering.  They still look adorable!
I turned mine into baseballs to match the theme of my party using this Wilton icing.  In the past, I've added sprinkles right after dipping which looks great too!  I'm giving this icing mixed reviews.  It's hard to work with (and QUITE a mess) but the end result isn't too shabby.  Warm the icing according to the directions on the bottle.  Add your design to the cookies.  If the icing is pooling on the wax paper, immediately transfer to fresh wax paper to cool.  This icing takes at least an hour to completely cool.
 When they're completely cooled, transfer them to Ziploc baggies until party set-up.  I like to store them flat on a cookie sheet.
 Unfortunately, I REALLY messed up the icing on this one (ha!) so it became a sample.  Mmmm!  Enjoy.

August 17, 2012

The SHORT of It

I've been gone for a LOOOOOONG time.  I know.  2012 has been a tough little year for the Burchett family with the sweet blessing of twins scrambled in.  I'll go more into detail later.  I LOVE blogging so here's to hoping I'm back for good.  Stick around...there's more to come!