Sunday, August 2, 2015

A post not about dogs...

I smell like lake air. The sun set 45 minutes ago, but I can still see clearly, my eyes adjusted to the shadow enough to paddle my way off the lake and into the narrow canal that leads to shore. Fireflies flicker in the woods on shore. Under the bridge, the lamps of fishermen glow like luminaries.

Fireflies flicker
Ants await
Bubble bees blow balloons

I remember it by heart even now. Miss Spider's ABC's book by David Kirk. I'd read it to her every night before bed, exaggerating the consonant sounds so she would laugh. She was two years old, chubby and needed me. I think I needed her, too. I took her everywhere with me: as a baby, hiking with her in the baby sling and then kidpack; jogging with her in the running stroller, and kayaking. She caught her first fish on my parents' boat when she was just five years old.

Now, she's 16, and she wants to believe she doesn't need me anymore.

Sophie and my mom's cat, Yoda
It was on a trip to Florida over spring break with family that she discovered there was something wrong. A gulp of ocean water took her by surprise, and she realized it was not only difficult to swallow but then to breathe. A quick trip to the pediatrician turned into another quick trip for an ultrasound, which revealed a large tumor within the right wing of her thyroid.

We met with an endocrinologist who said flatly, "I don't want to scare you, but given her age, there is a higher likelihood that this is cancer." A biopsy was inconclusive to rule out cancer, so surgery was scheduled to remove that wing of the thyroid. Then she came down with a summer cold/cough and a viral infection in her throat caused surgery to be delayed. Now, after a long summer, surgery is scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

To me, she is still that chubby little girl, and reading Miss Spider's ABC's seems like yesterday. No parent wants to watch their kiddo go through surgery, or to think about the dreaded "C" word. If this right wing of the thyroid is removed and is conclusive for cancer, she has to go back in for surgery again to remove the entire thyroid.

But we have lots to be grateful for. I've learned thyroid cancer is highly treatable with radioactive iodine. And it seems everyone I know knows someone who had thyroid cancer and went on to live a normal, healthy life.

We remain optimistic and hopeful.