Scholar Relies on Family and Faith to Cope with Unexpected Cancer Update

November 6, 2013

Opinion, The Zoetics

Photo By Mario Andreatta Briana Hendrix's senior year has changed since her diagnosis.

Photo By Mario Andreatta
Briana Hendrix’s senior year has changed since her diagnosis.

For Part 1 and Part II of Briana’s Story

By Briana Hendrix

It has been about four months since my diagnosis. During these past few months I have undergone a biopsy, surgery, and radioactive iodine therapy in an attempt to kill the cancer. Everything seemed to be going according to plan until I had my post iodine scan. This scan detected all of the places where the iodine had “stuck” to cancer. We expected the scan to show small sections of cancer left in my neck where my thyroid used to be placed but we were unprepared for what the doctors were about to tell us. Along with the bits of cancer left from surgery, there was also metastasized cancer found in the right side of my head, the left side of my neck, both of my lungs, and my left hip.

This news was extremely shocking and slightly terrifying. When I was first diagnosed, the doctors told my family and I that the type of cancer I had almost never moves from the lymph nodes surrounding the thyroid. The fact that the cancer has spread is proof that it is more aggressive, and that I have had the cancer much longer than we previously thought. We immediately scheduled a consultation with my doctor to try to get more answers. When we met with my endocrinologist he seemed concerned, but optimistic. He informed us that the iodine was doing its “job” and that we need to wait and see what happens.

In about three months I will have another scan to determine if the radioactive iodine killed all of the cancer tissue or not. Depending on what is left determines the next course of action. If there is cancer left anywhere in my body we can administer more radioactive iodine or we can control the cancer with medication. “Controlling” the cancer with medication means that we do not try to remove or kill the remaining cancer we only administer enough thyroid hormone into my body to prevent the cancer from growing. Doing this would leave live and active cancer in my body.

When my family heard that we might leave the cancer in my body, they started looking around for other answers. Now, we have decided that we are going to get a second opinion and see if there is a have a different approach to solving this problem. We are looking for the best way to completely remove the cancer from my body – we want it gone, not controlled. If the second opinion believes that controlling the cancer is also the best approach, then we will trust that it is best, but we want to be safe and know our best options.

This new development is definitely not easy information to take in. I thought that life was finally starting to look up and get better, but it seems like my situation just keeps getting worse. I have felt lost and confused about why something like this would happen to me. I would have had a lot harder time coming to terms with this new development without my family, friends, and faith. The moment we found out about my cancer I realized how big my family really was. The majority of the people I consider family are not related by blood but something stronger, we are related because of love. My church family has been one of the best supports in this struggle and I couldn’t do it without them. My faith as a Christian had given me the strength to keep going and stay strong. Taking life one day at a time is important – don’t try to rush though life. Take your time and live life to the fullest.

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