The beginning of motherhood and a cancer diagnosis.
At my final postpartum visit, I jumped up onto my maternity doctor’s table, hoping for the all-clear to return to regular activities. Six weeks prior to this appointment, I had an unplanned C-section and gave birth to my first child. I wasn’t supposed to do any quick movements yet — like jumping up onto a doctor’s table — but my body felt ready for it.
While it was not the birth plan I had hoped for, I was grateful for my healthy baby and that my body was recovering rather quickly. During the appointment my doctor performed a physical on me and found a lump on my neck. The doctor asked if I noticed anything there, or if there were any changes to my voice recently, and I said no.
A rush ultrasound of my neck was performed on me later that week. A biopsy and a visit to a specialist followed soon after. Christmas was the following week so I would have to wait a little longer for some further results. I tried to not think about the impending results and enjoy my baby’s first Christmas. A couple days later I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
How is this happening to me and my family? We were supposed to be in newborn bliss and finding our way as a new family, not dealing with cancer. This was not in the parenting course I took or any book I read.
Do I still attend the baby group classes I signed up for that started the next month? How will I relate to the other parents in the class? Will I need to stop breastfeeding if I have to do certain cancer treatments? How long will I need to be away from my baby when I have my surgery? Will I be able to lift my baby after my surgery? Will I be able to have another child? What long-term health implications will I have? These were some of the questions going through my mind.
I am upset that my cancer diagnosis is linked so closely to the beginning of my child’s life and my motherhood journey. My prognosis is very good, thankfully. I don’t know when I or another doctor would have noticed the lump on my neck. Routine physical examinations aren’t covered under my province’s medical plan so I doubt I would have pushed for one anytime soon.
I wonder if my child might have helped to save my life.