This October, I am one with the thousand others in celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wether it be in remembering every cancer patient, family, relative, or friend who has lost their battle to breast cancer or honoring the survivors and those who are still courageously fighting with the disease.
I know first hand how physically, emotionally, and even spiritually trying this disease can be both for the sick and her family. My only daughter, Bianca, was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer, Papillary Carcinoma (Thyroid Cancer in layman’s term) back in 2012. Sometimes the memory of her difficult experience during surgery and RAI treatment still knock the wind out of me. The fear alone that this lifetime disease would recur in the future is enough to stress the life out of anyone.
My daughter is not cancer free yet but we are certain in time, she’ll be. I am sure a lot would agree with me when I say that when you have invested enough in this fight, you’ll do everything to achieve victory. That’s what my daughter as well as the other cancer patients, survivors, and care givers I know have been doing. And it is for this reason that I have nothing but deep admiration for them for remaining positive and strong in the face of this dreaded disease. Their tenacity, will power, and faith during and after the ordeal are truly inspiring.
Despite the heartache, I still must say that I would always see cancer as a blessing rather than a misfortune in my family. It is because it has become a way for us to receive God’s amazing grace and boundless blessings. It also continue to serve as a great reminder for us everyday to celebrate life and its many big and even little yet significant victories.
When we were seeking treatment for my daughter’s thyroid cancer, doctors often asked whether or not I was exposed to radiation when I was pregnant or Bianca, for that matter, when she was still a baby. Apparently exposure to radiation along with genetics has been seen as one of the risk factors of thyroid cancer in children.
Thyroid cancer is considered as a slow progressing type of cancer. You can have it for years without you knowing it. It usually manifest itself later as an enlarged thyroid which when tested through fine needle aspiration biopsy yield positive for malignancy. Although common in adults in their mid 20s to late 40s, it is very rare in children. In fact, only 5 new cases per 1,000,000 children in the US are recorded every year. My daughter, Bianca, had hers two years ago when she was only 12. We didn’t know she had it until one afternoon when we noticed an unusual lump at the base of her neck. After a series of tests, it was confirmed that she had papillary carcinoma. Our surgeon decided to perform a total thyroidectomy right away and a month after her surgery, she received radioactive iodine treatment. She has not been declared cancer free yet but she is responding well to thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Although considered as the friendliest among all cancers, I still wouldn’t wish it to anyone, especially to a child, because well, cancer is cancer. The treatment is long term and the risk that it can come back at any given time and in other form will always be there.
As far as I know I wasn’t exposed to any type radiation when I was pregnant but then again, I might unknowingly have been considering that a lot of what we use everyday emit low level radiation. The alarming thing about low level radiation is that it can have a huge impact not just on babies inside a mommy’s tummy but also to young children in general. Based on studies done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children absorb two times more radiation in their brains and ten times more on the bone marrow of their skulls. Studies in Yale University School of Medicine and UCLA also showed that mothers exposed to cellphone radiation impacts fetal development that can lead to numerous other problems.
As our society becomes increasingly wireless, the levels of radiation exposure we receive continue to grow at an alarming rate. As moms, we should be mindful of this and take precautionary measures to shield our kids and even our unborn children from the harm that it can bring. There are products such as Belly Armor in the market today that can do just that.
Belly Armor is a line of maternity accessories that uses Radiashield Technology. The Radiashield fabric, a high conductive silver textile with the same shielding property as that of a 1/4 inch thick aluminum sheet protect against everyday radiation coming from cellphones, laptops, wireless towers, and other devices. Things that we use everyday and whose side effects we really don’t give much thought. If you are interested to know more about how Belly Armor products can protect your unborn child and infant, visit their website at www.bellyarmor.com.
Had these Belly Armor products been around some 13 years ago, I would have bought one for myself in a heartbeat if only to ensure the safety of my baby.
She’s on “house arrest” for another week or so. For the first time in days she slept soundly and ate her meals heartily. She’s been gaining back her strength and feels much more relaxed now.
Looking at her, you won’t see even the trace of discomfort she’s been feeling the past few days. She’s one tough cookie. She carries her cross well and with such grace that I am sure even the Lord is smiling at her right now with so much pride and affection. Tomorrow, she will do the body scan. This will give us an idea of the extent of the spread and would tell us if she needs to do another cycle of radioactive therapy. Whatever the outcome is though, looking at the way she handled things, I know all shall be well. I believe. I trust. I claim total and complete healing.
Most of the time she amazes me with her strength and determination. I don’t know how it happened that Nan and I were able to raise a daughter whose gentle yet strong in spirit. Today she’s on the third day of the treatment, the only way to make the radiation level go down is for her to expel body fluids by drinking lots of water and taking a bath as often as she can. Despite feeling nauseous, weak, and vomitty yesterday, she managed to down about 6 mineral water bottles and bathe at least 8 times or more. On top of that she shared this morning that she’s been praying every hour since last night. That’s how badly she wanted to go home. Like her dad, home is really where her heart is. Safest radiation level for her to be discharged is below 25. First day reading was 158, second day reading was 93. Doctor predicted a 35-40 reading this morning. Doctor was hoping an early discharge tomorrow or at least a late discharge this afternoon if all goes well. But then you know all pains and discomfort never go unnotice by the Lord. We may sometimes not realize it at the start but these big and little sacrifces that we do are what will lead us to victory. Radiation level reading this morning was 16, doctors were amazed that a child like Bianca can manage to bring the radiation level down that fast. It definitely exceeded their expectations. She was given the walking papers this morning.
She is now happily sleeping soundly in her bed here at home. More than her strength and determination, it’s really all the prayers that were offered for her by our friends, relatives, and even strangers that did it also. I am so so grateful to them for not leaving us during this difficult time. Each one of them and each one of you who offered a prayer for my Bianca without our knowledge will be in my prayers too. I believe. I trust. I claim. All shall be well.
Day 2 of the radioactive treatment was a bit difficult for Bianca. As the radioactive pill works to eliminate the remaining microscopic cancer cells not otherwise removed by surgery, her body doubles over as she feels more strongly its after effects. Vomitting and nauseousness were more frequent today than yesterday. She wasn’t up for anything other than lying down and waiting to fall asleep. I felt so helpless not being able to be by her side.
Sometimes I think that I do suck at motherhood like I can’t cook her a decent meal coz when I do I only managed to burn the eggs or drop the hotdogs. I can’t teach her math coz when I do she fails her tests. I can’t help her sew buttons on her clothes coz when I do it doesn’t match the hole. But seeing her handle this thing beautifully, seeing her smile despite feeling bad after a bout of vomitting and nausea or hearing her voice over the phone reassuring me that she’s okay and can handle things on her own, it also makes me think that maybe I didn’t do so bad in this parenting thing afterall. The lack of domestic bone in my body to which I more than make up for by giving her peptalks on how to be kind and understanding to people with limited homemaking skills (*wink*wink) has produced this exceptionally independent, strongwilled, kindhearted, and happy spirited old soul who just simply amazes and humbles me whenever she calls me mommy. I am truly beyond blessed to be handpicked by God to be her mom. All shall be well. I believe. I trust. I claim.
Today we head off to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City for the second phase of the treatment which is the Radioactive Iodine Therapy. She was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma last October and had her surgery last November to remove the whole thyroid. Now we’re on Round 2. Though I know that all shall be well, the mom in me still cannot help but worry. The only thing that’s keeping me in my place right now is the thought that although life has been tough on us the past two years, God has been more than kind to us in a lot of ways too. And so as we face this big challenge, I know that like always, His love will sustain our spirits and will strengthen us.
She is so funny, she doesn’t want to use the wheelchair but she wants to ride in this. She half won the battle already with her wit and humor. I hope and pray that her happy disposition stays with her till the end of her treatment. She’s a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy and stressful situation.
All shall be well. I trust. I pray. I believe. I claim. 🙂