Why?

You’re in full swing, extra motivated as you travel this journey to a new and improved you.  You know what you want to accomplish, whether it’s to lose a few pounds, inches, tone some trouble areas, eat better or learn how to work out consistently.  It’s great you have set those goals for yourself but what’s most important is the why.  Not the “I want to fit into a bathing suit or a new pair of shorts” why but the “deep down, sentimental, heart wrenching” why.

I’m going to share mine.  It was November 2005 and I was at the peak of life.  My daughters were growing older and needed me less.  I had just finished my B.S. in Legal Studies the year before and had a promising career in a corporate legal office.  I was driven and knew I had so much more to offer so I decided I would take the LSAT (law school entrance exam) and go to law school. WhyI had it all mapped out.  And I did it.  I sat for the test, received my scores and by February of 2006, I decided to apply to a local law school.  Then came 10 pounds.

In March of 2006, I noticed I was overly tired for no reason.  My usual anal retentive self started to be less organized and driven.  Housework and chores started to slip.  I just wanted to sleep.  Then came 10 more pounds.  In April I had my yearly gyn appointment and my doctor suggested I see a specialist about my ever growing thyroid. In my mind I was like “here we go again.”  I had blood work done repeatedly and it always came back the same – normal. I told her I would think about.

In May, I received a new opportunity at another company with a 50% salary increase so I took it.  While shopping for new clothes for my prestigious new role, another 10 pounds came.  Wait…what is going on here????  Then I thought back to my conversation with my doctor and decided to move on her suggestion.  I set up an appointment at a world-class teaching hospital but had to wait months to be seen.  “No big deal” I thought.  It’s nothing serious.

Fast forward to September – first visit with the endocrinologist.  First the student examined me.  Then the real professional came in.  “Swallow” he said.  “Hmph”, was his reply.  Then he said he needed me to go for an ultrasound right away.  He explained that he felt four nodules throughout my thyroid and that he needed to rule out something serious.

Now, I am a “cup half full” kind of girl so I sashayed my way to the radiology department to set up the appointment. A week later, I was laid flat on a table with a technician and radiologist looking at the pictures on the screen, making funny noises and talking about my nodules.  It was all but confirmed that I had thyroid cancer but I would need to come back for a biopsy.  Wait, what???

I won’t belabor the rest of the details but a week later I found out I had malignant papillary thyroid carcinoma and two weeks after that I had my thyroid removed.  During the course of that ordeal, I had to stop and ask myself how I got to that point in my life.  I reflected on all the things I may miss in my kids lives if it I couldn’t be treated.  It was then that I slowly started to realize my why.  Accepting it has been a struggle but I am finally at a place of sharing it and working with it.  So here is my why:

Because I know what it feels like to waste precious moments not knowing if you will get any more chances to make memories and to leave a lasting impact on this world.  My ability to help others feel good about themselves starts with me feeling good about myself.

So there you have it…that’s my why. It’s not flashy or over complicated but is meaningful to me.  What’s yours?

Photo credit: http://buff.ly/28QQDOl

An Open Letter to My Thyroid Doctor

DSC_0007I am almost 10 years out from having thyroid cancer, yet this last year has been like the first.  I have more half used bottles of medication than I care to have in my cabinet. I have wasted countless dollars on co-payments just so you can tell me “the dose I wrote the script for last time is no longer working so you’ll have to get another prescription filled?”  Really??? Do you treat your other patients with the same lax level of care as you treat me?

Last week I came to you because I know my body and I know when it is off.  After I weighed in considerably heavier than my visit several weeks back, you had the audacity to tell me my weight wasn’t that bad.  How about you let me, my knees, lower back and the rest of my joints be the judge of that.  Then you proceeded to pepper me with your standard list of questions about my eating habits, whether I worked out, and if I was taking my medicine on an empty stomach every morning 30 minutes before eating.  Remember the part about being 10 years out??? I have been dealing with this for a long time so I am insulted when you insinuate that I am the reason why my body is betraying me yet again.

But I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt.  I humbly asked to take you up on your offer to see a nutritionist  who, by the way, can’t even see my until a month from now.  You obliged all the while writing what you really thought in my chart.  Guess you didn’t think I actually read the notes you put on my summary document because if you did, then you clearly wouldn’t have written “obesity due to excessive caloric intake.” Wait…what???? Did you even listen to me as I poured my heart out to you about all the other symptoms I am experiencing in addition to weight gain?   The dry skin, increased anxiety, mood changes, sleeplessness, hoarseness, etc. Yeah, you halfheartedly ordered more blood work but your notes tell me you didn’t believe me.  Your disbelief tells me you don’t really care.

I just wish you would be honest and tell me “I don’t know” or “I am at a loss for what to do for you.”  I could respect that more.  What I don’t respect is you not hearing me and you allowing your bias to assume that I am my problem.  No, not having my thyroid anymore is the problem.  The meds I have to take to keep my cancer away is the problem.  You assuming that bad habits are contributing to my situation is the problem.

Well, in spite of all your training and medical degrees I decline to be subjected to your ego any further.  You may be an expert in some things but you are by far no expert in me.

Sincerely,

A Thyroid Cancer Survivor Who Has Had Enough.

 

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If not now…when?

In 2006 when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I just knew that would be the push I would need to be more aware of my health and to make better decisions – eat healthier, work out more, etc. Fast forward to 10 years later and the struggle is still very real and my attempts to stay the course of being more mindful about my health and wellness have come and gone like the wind.

I corrupted my family too. Fatty fried foods, carbohydrate laden side dishes and no green vegetables on the plate unless they were cooked and smothered beyond recognition became the norm. But as they say, you can’t out exercise a poor diet and I am living proof of the trueness of that statement. Tired of being confused as to why I am exercising but not seeing results, I decided for once I was going to make a change.

PhototasticCollage-2016-03-11-22-06-19So, I started drinking Shakeology. Best decision ever. Then I decided I would reboot by doing the 3 Day Refresh. The results were wonderful. After 3 days I was down 6 pounds and lost more than 5 inches total. I immediately followed the Refresh with 21 Day Fix and it was another great decision. I learned that with a little prep, eating right is possible. I also learned that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym every day to see results. Just a little consistency each day coupled with eating right and the results will come. But most importantly, I learned that the physical transformation is just the icing, the mental transformation…now that’s the cake.

Fast forward to today and I have more energy. I genuinely feel good in the mornings because I know I am taking positive steps to improve my health and well-being. For me, it’s not about a number on the scale. Rather it is about the personal satisfaction I get from knowing I am doing something for me and that this time, I am sticking to it.

So what about you? Are you tired of going through the same old routine and never seeing results? Are you looking for simple ways to improve your diet? Perhaps you struggle with meal planning and want someone to help guide you? If this sounds like you, please send me a private message so we can connect. I am hosting an accountability challenge starting Monday March 28 and I am looking for 5 people who are ready to make a commitment to improve their health and well-being. I promise to support you along the way. In fact, we will support each other. This is as much my journey as it is yours. Ask yourself – If not now, when? Send me an email at jebspinder@gmail.com if you are interested so we connect on how we can help each other.

Because It’s Never “Just” Thyroid Cancer

2653033567_bd1b6e8b23Nine years ago today, my life was forever changed.  Some would argue that receiving my cancer diagnosis on October 3 was the day my life changed but I beg to differ.  Even with the diagnosis, my body seemed to function normally, or at least as normal as I had come to know it.  But on November 3, 2006, I would undergo a surgery that would remove my thyroid and the cancer in it but leave me with years of side effects, misunderstanding and frustrations.  Frustrations over the ignorance that surrounds my cancer.

First there was the radiologist who told me if I had to get cancer, this was “the best kind of cancer to get.”  What a jerk!  Who chooses to get cancer and who picks out what kind like shopping for a pair of shoes????  In my mind, cancer is cancer regardless.  Nobody’s story is better or worse than another because the pain is real in the moment.  We are all survivors.

Then there was the ignorant columnist this year who had the audacity to say that thyroid cancer patients dare not compare their struggles to those who suffer from real cancer like breast cancer.  These people have no idea the emotional scars they leave when they are so shortsighted with their words.  Even though my type and stage of cancer was not as serious as some, loss was felt.  I still feared leaving my girls behind without a mother.  My husband still lost time and memories with his wife.  I still was unable to mother my children as I wanted to.  Even now, I deal with the aftermath…the anxiety, depression, hair loss, weight gain, dry skin, rashes, dry mouth, mood swings, sleepless nights, etc., etc., etc.  And I am 9 years out.

As you read this you may be thinking to yourself…”Man she sounds bitter.”  Well, let me set the record straight…I am not bitter.  I am realistic about my struggles and the struggles so many others go through.  Thyroid cancer patients not only battle their disease, they battle the stigma that it’s not as serious as other cancers.  They battle the aftermath once their thyroid is removed or killed off.  They battle the side effects as a result of the daily maintenance medication. I battle myself over the guilt that it wasn’t as bad as some.

Through it all, I remain grateful.  I am still here.  On November 3, 2006, my thyroid and the cancer within was not all that was removed.  I also lost a short-sighted view of life and gained a second chance to never take anything for granted ever again.  It’s been hard and some days present more of a struggle than others.  But today I am going to take a moment to reflect on how far I have come since my life began again…since I got this second chance to live a life of gratitude and respect for everyone who suffers from all cancers and any other debilitating disease or condition.

Cancer is real to those who deal with it.  No one cancer has the right to be grieved any more than the other. It all causes pain and loss. None of us should judge or rate one’s pain and right to feel pain in relation to another person’s struggle. So if you get nothing else from this post, I hope you gain some understanding and the insight to know what to say and what not to say the next time you meet a thyroid cancer survivor. Because it’s never “just” thyroid cancer.

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Welcome To My New Section – Transformation

3771041918_9fd13021c5 (2)It’s been a while since I posted.  Alot has been going on in my life over the last few weeks.  My oldest daughter graduated high school.  My youngest daughter is preparing to go to France for her junior year in high school.  I am still getting adjusted to a new role as is my husband.  Our lives have taken quite the turn for the positive.  I have so much to be thankful for.  But somehow I keep losing site of that fact.  It’s a daily struggle to maintain that state of mine.

For the last 6 months or so I have been struggling physically.  Almost 9 years ago, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer and have been battling the aftermath of surgery and treatment ever since.  I guess you could say for the last 9 years I have been in denial.  I thought taking my maintenance med every day was enough and I could move through life as I always had.  Hit or miss at the gym.  Watching what I ate whenever and throwing caution to the wind most days.  Pushing myself and not getting enough quality rest.  The list goes on and on.

I have had to learn the hard way that you cannot neglect your body the way that I have.  It may not be evident overnight, but the neglect will catch up to you.  Fast forward to the present time…I am waking up every morning with swollen hands and feet.  I have gained more weight than I care to disclose in the last 3 months.  I am just plain worn out, disgusted, disappointed, frustrated, etc., etc., etc.  But the big question is:  WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?????

I am going to change.  But not overnight.  I realized that what got me to this point it a collection of things and so in order to transform and move away from my negative behaviors, I need to go through a process.  I have to change my thought processes.  I have to re-evaluate my relationship with food.  I have to gain an appreciation for consistency. I have to learn how to commit to a healthy lifestyle.  This is going to be tough….YES!  But I have no choice.  My body is telling me every day that my time for change is running out.

Now I know many people blog about weight loss and physical transformations.  This section of my blog will include some of that.  But more importantly, it will include the realness that goes along with the struggle.  All of the highs, lows, wins, losses, successes, failures and tears will be documented here.  I need this to hold me accountable.  No magic pills, potions or miracles.  Just good old-fashioned hard work.

My goal is to post every day about my journey.  It’s going to be hard at first because it’s not easy being vulnerable.  But that fear of vulnerability has to change to.  As Brene Brown puts it…I have to dare greatly to live and to change.  So that’s what I am going to do!