I hate the word Cancer!!

By: 
Jay Schneider

As my friend Tim Kinniry said a couple of weeks ago when I interviewed him for a story, "Cancer, I hate that word!" I can acknowledge his hatred for the disease which can ruin the lives of anyone.

Fortunately, I have now lived through two bouts of this disease, the most recent was over the course of this summer. 

I was pretty hesitant as to whether or not I would write  about my latest bout with cancer, but I want people to know this can be beat.

In September of 2015 I had a chunk of melanoma cut out of my 

inner thigh.

At that time I knew very little about this type of cancer, 

but quickly found out of others who also had the same disease and 

came out with positive outcomes.

I guess never in my wildest dreams would I think I would be 

diagnosed with cancer again. Or at least I really hoped I wouldn't.

Then came the day after Bullhead Days, June 11, 2018.

I had a little mass build up under my sternum and I went in 

to check it out.

My doctors said it wasn't  cancerous, but we will keep an eye 

on it. I had no other symptoms.

Just to make sure it wasn't cancerous they ordered a CT scan. 

When the results from that came back OK, they noticed a strange spot 

showing up under my neck area.

So once again to make sure things we OK, they then ordered a 

PET scan and on thatscan it more actively showed up on the neck area 

so they did a biopsy of that area.

So a biopsy was completed and they located cancer in my thyroid.

Like my melanoma scare, I really didn't have any idea what 

kind of cancer this was. Was it treatable, is it active, and when it 

got right down to it, what does a thyroid do?

Apparently it is one of the most important parts in the human 

body. In a nutshell, it helps regulate the other glands in your body.

I quickly found out that this was one of the most curable 

cancers of the hundreds which are out there. The success rate is over 

80 percent. This made me feel a bit better, but figuring this is my 

second cancer surgery, I was very nervous.

I'm not a very good patient to start with so when I found out 

they were going to have to do surgery as soon as possible to remove 

the thyroid, my anxiety really kicked in.

So approximately two weeks later I was scheduled for a 3-4 

hour surgery in Mankato and they would let me go home that day.

My brother from Kansas City and my loving wife accompanied me 

to the hospital that morning as the sun was coming up.

They got me into the prep room and prepared me for the surgery.

We were told they planned on making a cut in my throat and 

remove the thyroid. This is what they told us initially. It didn't 

exactly work out that way.

My wife received a phone call from the doctor during the 

middle of my surgery. She wasn't sure who it was on her cell phone, 

but she answered. There was a change in the surgery.

They found a large mass, the size of a grapefruit, attached 

to the thyroid. After some initial checks they felt they had all the 

cancer in the mass and the right side of my thyroid.

This mass was something which came as a huge surprise to not 

only myself and my family, but also to the operating doctor.

So my wife and brother were asked how they should proceed. If 

they sewed me up I would still have half a thyroid and would not have 

to take medicine for the rest of my life if they had removed the 

entire thyroid.

But there was a chance that after analyzing the mass  further 

over the course of the next few days, they may feel that they may 

have to take out the other half of the thyroid. Another surgery would 

need to be scheduled.

It was decided to glue me back together and hope for the 

best. A week later in our post-surgery consultation, it was decided 

by the pathologist and my doctor they should remove the left side of 

my thyroid because of a risk of it being cancerous.

I wasn't too thrilled about this but I knew there was a 

chance this might happen. I whole heartedly agreed with my family for 

their decision at the time. I would have said the same thing. 

Unfortunately the doctors were not sure if all the cancer had been 

removed after further analysis..

So two weeks later, July 13 to be exact, I went back for a 

second surgery to remove the left side of my thyroid.

Since they were going through the same incision, I asked if 

this surgery would be half price. I guess I was the only one who 

thought that was funny.

This was only supposed to be a couple of hour long surgery, 

but once again my poor wife received a call in the middle of the 

surgery from the doctor.

He said my thyroid had grown under my collar bone, which is 

making the surgery a bit more intense due to the nerves in this area.

So my short surgery turned into an almost 6 hour surgery. I 

know my wife's patience had to be tested but she has been a rock 

through this whole two month cancer scare.

The surgery finished up early that evening and once again we 

were told we could go home and did not have to stay the night.

Two surgeries and no overnight time in the hospital. I guess 

that was a bonus.

Staying home and out of work for four days each time was a 

bit tougher than I expected.

I had almost no pain, other than the tugging of the tape 

covering my throat.

So when I did happen to see people I honestly felt great. I 

have been a bit more tired but they said that is to be expected.

After another week of waiting, my wife and I returned for our 

post-surgery consultation and I have been deemed CANCER FREE.

They feel they removed all the cancer from that area. Now I 

am in the process of getting accustomed to my thyroid medicine. This 

takes a number of weeks but so far so good.

During the past two months our family has received so many 

well wishes and support from hundreds of people.

One big thing is our fellow workmates have been fantastic 

picking up the slack when we were gone from our jobs.

Seeing what cancer does to families is devastating. I guess I 

am just one of the lucky ones.

I can't even express how grateful our family is with the 

support we have received.

Every day I think about the other individuals in our area who 

have also had surgeries the past couple of months and/or weeks and 

hope they come out of their surgeries as well as I did.

Even though I have come through this in a positive way, I 

still agree with Tim Kinniry..."Cancer, I hate that word."

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