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.


  1. You are doing such an amazing job of being a support to Scott, Caroline. I remember the emotional weight of being pregnant with twins and I don't know that I could have taken on what you have.

    Soren and Marlow want to say hi to your twins and to "Dot and Nine".

    Praying for peace and strength beyond what feels possible.

  2. Oh man - sounds like you all are handling this in the best possible way. To be going through all of this at once must be an emotional rollercoaster but I'm sending positive thoughts your way that your husband is back to perfect health in no time and you can both enjoy those new babies to the fullest!

  3. Caroline, you, Scott and the entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. Sending big hugs.

  4. You can count on my prayers! Thank you for sharing this personal story. Praying for strength, comfort and perfect health!

  5. OH my goodness. I did not have any idea any of this was going on. We will definitely keep you FOUR in our prayers!

  6. Praying for all 4 of you . It's the least I can do. God put you in my life at a time that has now helped me cope with all our changes. I am very thankful for that.

  7. I'm glad you're blogging again! Thanks for sharing this story. I know the surgery was long and scary, and I love hearing how you are trusting the Lord through it all. I'm sorry you have to go through this. Who knows why God allows some of these things!? But He's strong and He loves you. I'll be praying for you guys! Continued healing and getting ready for the babies! Rest up!
    Anna C

  8. You guys are amazing. I am blessed to have both of you (make that all 4 of you) in my life. Praying for you. Much love.

  9. Thanks so much for the very transparent blog. Loved the pictures! I am praying for Scott and You and the 2 little precious ones inside of you!!!

  10. Praying for your buddy. Congrats on twins. I've got your expensive beer waiting for you at the Baylor tailgates this year. Just tell me what's your flavor.


    Matt Price

  11. I am keeping you both in my prayers.

  12. You never cease to amaze me. God has given you special strength!! We will be praying for you and Scott. Love you both!!

  13. Continuing to pray for your sweet family of 4! These two precious children are so lucky to have such a wonderful Mommy and Daddy!!

  14. Love you and am praying for you all lots!!

  15. Your SIL Courtney shared your blog on facebook. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  16. Thank you for sharing this. Scott- This is a curve ball not even the likes of Lefty could throw your and Caroline's way, but with that said, there is no one I can think of that's smarter, stronger, or better to beat this thing - I mean that. I'm thinking and praying for all 4 of you and can't wait to see those twins. Much love from CT. Digi

  17. Scott -- and the entire family -- are in my thoughts and prayers. Please send my warmest regards and well wishes to Scott! His strength is an inspiration.

    ~ Doug Manor

  18. Caroline and Scott,
    Thank you for sharing the story. Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with you and all of your family as you go through this together.
    I have tears swelling in my eyes. Tears of sorrow that you are having to walk through this; as well as, Tears of JOY knowing that you are not walking alone.
    God bless you, and keep you strong!
    Wadlow family

  19. Thanks for the update,our family will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. It is great you have the strength and family support and something very special coming your way! Those two sweet babies will be coming your way!

    Patti Dawson

  20. Hi Caroline!

    I can't thank you enough for sharing this story! My husband has just received the same diagnosis as your husband. We have been completely devastated and lost. I say we, but it's mostly me. My husband seems to be a lot like yours - completely positive! I've been trying to figure out which way to go with all this. So many things to figure out. Anyway, I happened upon your site when I did a search for Dr. Shelby Holt. I was recently given her name as a doctor to treat my husband. I’m trying to learn more about her. Your story helps tremendously!!! Ironically, my husband and I also live in McKinney with our two kids - Kyler 10, and Bella 6. If you have any advice, please let me know. Also, how is your hubby now that a few months have passed since the surgery? BTW - Congrats on your twins.

    Thanks again!!

  21. Praying hard for Scott. David may remember (we went to SG together) but my mom had Hodgkins Lymphoma my senior year. If was rough, but glory to God she is 100% healed today. Cancer free since 2006! If god can heal my mom, He can and will heal Scott. Believing for you guys and praying!