I went last night to our monthly Thyca (thyroid cancer) support group meeting, and didn't get home until well after 10PM.
The meetings don't normally run so late, but we had a lot to talk about last night. One of our members has just returned from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and she looked fantastic.
This poor woman had been through the mill here in Phoenix -- her doctor was completely unresponsive to the problems she was having on her meds (she was on way, way too much Cytomel), and did nothing to help her pursue why she had positive scan results for both lung and breast infiltration.
So after listening to me rave about my experience there, she referred herself to MDA.
Her experience there was similar to mine: they did everything in a matter of days, things that had taken weeks or months here. She did have a longer stay (3 weeks), because her meds had messed her up so much, it took a while for the excess to leave her system, and she also went on the low iodine diet for a week and had a nuclear scan. In three weeks she had a complete diagnostic work-up, including the nuclear scan, and then had neck dissection surgery very similar to mine. (Poor dear, her surgery was even more extensive than mine -- 5 hours. Yikes.)
Still, last night, just two weeks post-op, she looked and sounded amazing. All the rest of us were so happy for her, it was like a party. She feels as if she is finally getting her life back! She is still impatient to get back to work and to "normal" -- but we cautioned her to take it easy (and to go to physical therapy!) before jumping back into work with both feet.
She told me: After I heard about your experience, I knew that they would take care of me there. I would never have gone if you hadn't talked about it. Thank you!
I don't think I did anything that extraordinary... I just show up at the meetings and help answer questions. But I remember when I was first referred to MDA and I was terrified, I went to a support group meeting and there was an MDA veteran there who reassured me that it was a good thing to be going there, and that helped me immeasurably. So I am very happy to have done the same thing.
I want so much for this experience to be over, to be done with cancer. But I can still be the "experienced patient" for the new people who are trying to deal with this. I'm sensitive to the fact that most people don't have the difficult experience that I had, but for those who do, it's nice to know I can help.