Thyroid Cancer Strikes Again…

My mom has thyroid cancer. If you are loyal readers on her blog or my blog, you probably already know that.

Mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2016. She had her thyroid completely removed and underwent radioactive iodine treatment to kill the remaining cancerous cells. They were able to measure the efficacy of the radioactive iodine by measuring a blood level called thyroglobulin tumor marker.

Mom’s number used to be 0.0 after her radioactive iodine.

Then it went up to 0.04.

Then up to 0.3.







and most recently 32.

Anything over 10 they would suspect a tumor to be visible. We’ve been looking and looking and testing and scanning and retesting and scanning and biopsy after biopsy we could never find the cause of her rising tumor marker.

Until last week. A lymph node behind mom’s trachea doubled in size since last October. It is now 13 mm up from 7 mm. That sounds bad right? No, that’s good.

We’ve been watching and waiting and hoping and praying we can find SOMETHING to explain her rising result. We found it.

The placement of the lymph node sucks. Your neck literally connects your brain to your body. Think of the blood flow that goes through the neck. Think of the nerves that pass through the neck. Now imagine having to remove something BEHIND your adams apple. Easier said than done.

Mom needs surgery to have it removed. The surgery is honestly risky. The lymph node is right next to the nerve that controls her voice. Not only that but when they make an incision on her neck, it is so vascular the amount of blood can make it so hard to see. Once they clear that out, now imagine finding a lymph node a little bigger than the size of a pea right next to an extremely important nerve.

Needless to say, we wanted to find the cancer but would have preferred it be more accessible. Because it is considered a “risky” surgery, we aren’t rushing to get it out. We want to make absolutely CERTAIN that this lymph node is the absolute culprit which means one more needle biopsy guided by a CT scan. Now whether that can be done at Gundersen or if mom has to go to Mayo is up in the air.

Even though I worked overnight the night before, Kelli and I rode along for mom’s appointment last week.

We missed our turn again which we always seem to do. The last time we missed our turn we were on our way to Dad’s last day of radiation. Mom and I knew things weren’t good. We were talking a lot about what the future looked like and how we might have to live without Dad. We laughed and cried and laughed some more that when we actually paid attention to the road we were an hour off course. Luckily, we caught ourselves earlier this time but it did take us on the same beautiful road it did last May. The frost was beautiful.

It’s sometimes haunting to go to Gundersen. There are memories of the weeks Dad spent in the hospital everywhere. Kelli and I were so so pregnant when Dad had his big lung surgery. Here we are in the same hallway by the same parking ramp. I had just finished up my last day of work before I had Gannon.

I remember mom forgot some of her medications when she was staying in the hospital with Dad. Mom didn’t want Dad to worry about her or know she wasn’t taking her medications so we arranged to have her prescriptions sent to this pharmacy in the hospital.

The carts whizzing by carrying patients around the hospital reminded me of when I was one week post c-section with Gannon and Dad had a pleural effusion and I took them both up to Lacrosse. Dad wasn’t up to par yet from his surgery and I was still sore but we made it. Mom wanted us to ride on one of those carts but we decided we could get by without one. I had Gannon in the wagon in his infant car seat just like we had Georgia tagging along in the wagon this time. Just being at Gundersen brought back so many memories of last Spring when we spent so much time at the hospital.

We’ve had a lot of talk about Papa Moo lately. Carver carries his picture around all the time. He had lots of questions the other night.

“Is Papa Moo alive?”

“Where did him go?”

“Is he living at the cemetary?”

“Where does Jesus live?”

“Why Papa have that on him neck?”

“I miss him SOOO much.”

“Can we go see him?”

“Me want him to come to ours house.”

“I want to ride in the combine with him.”

Oh Carver John. I wish I had the answers for you. I just don’t.

Papa Moo has been heavy on my mind too. Especially heading up again for mom’s cancer appointments. Not to mention the anniversary of his diagnosis and surgeries. The memories and medical updates keep popping up in my memories on Facebook. Carver begged to go see his “rock” at the cemetery. They hadn’t plowed the driveway yet so we looked from the road.

One day at a time, friends. One day at a time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow at 0530 for another post.

Also – let’s stay in touch! If I came out with a newsletter – would you subscribe? Let’s be more than friends… and by that I mean can I slide into your inbox once in awhile? No spam, I promise! Your email is safe with me.



  1. Ellie
    February 18, 2020 / 2:33 pm

    I hope you can feel the long distance hug and love I’m sending your way! You are fortunate that you are so close to your parents you are able to be part of their journeys wherever they lead.

  2. Sophie Brown
    February 18, 2020 / 9:46 pm

    I’ve read your mom’s blog and now enjoy yours. Sending you love, prayers and support from Wyoming!

  3. Susan the Farm Quilter
    February 19, 2020 / 12:40 am

    When you get those answers figured out, let me know! My granddaughters (12 & 6) are burying their father tomorrow. He had surgery on 12/19, had a heart attack and died on the table. Took 5 weeks to get a death certificate and longer to schedule a military funeral. He was 38. I don’t know if them being older is better or not, but they still have questions. Having to retrace those drives with your mom has to be difficult. Praying for your family.

  4. Carmela Cataudella-Sanzone
    February 19, 2020 / 9:31 pm

    Sending prayers for you and your family.!! Thank you for all you share and you never know who you are helping!! THANK YOU!!

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