Roadkill Goldfish

Now writing for the Dallas Morning News and my kid is mortified

Evans Caglage/Staff Photographer

IMAGE: Evans Caglage/Staff Photographer, the Dallas Morning News

I am excited to announce I have been selected to be a guest columnist for the Dallas Morning News and its Local Voices program.

Woo hoo!

My fellow columnists and I are volunteers chosen by The Dallas Morning News to be regular contributors for one year. We’re an interesting and diverse bunch with high school students, teachers and average Joes from the community. I’m one of those average Joes, and as you may know from following Roadkill Goldfish, I may be a little above-average in the opinionated department.

This should be very interesting.

Check out my first printed column complete with a byline and newsy-looking  headshot. I take a second look at four things every high school freshman needs to know. My daughter, a high school freshman, is mortified someone may realize she’s my kid.

Here’s the URL: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20140905-four-things-high-school-freshmen-need-to-know.ece.

Check out the other columnists: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/local-voices/

 

 

A man who hits you once will hit you twice

Image, Wikipedia

Image, Wikipedia

A man who hits you once will hit you twice.

And then a third time.

Even if he begs and pleads, “I don’t know what came over me” or “I promise this will never happen again.”

Even if he shifts the blame to you with, “You made me do this.”

He WILL hit you again. Or maybe throw you around a bit.

He’ll appear charming to everyone else so they never suspect a thing. He’ll verbally rip you to shreds when you’re alone, and if he’s especially cruel, he’ll do it in public and then proclaim, “Hey, I was joking.”

You will soon find yourself alone because he has managed to isolate you from family and friends. You will come to believe that you don’t deserve any better, or you’ll willingly climb on the rollercoaster relationship with extreme highs and devastating lows.

Sure, he’s cruel, but he can be so amazingly sweet when he apologizes. He’ll treat you like a queen and perform acts of penance to show you how much he really loves you. And then he’ll do it again.

How do I know?

I lived it.

I left after the second round of blows.

He was good looking and had lots of friends. Other men respected him, and other women wanted to be with him. He was incredibly smart and was on his way to building a very successful career.

I felt lucky to be with him.

I now feel lucky to be away from him.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and it’s not limited to grown women. Violence and abuse happen to teenage girls. And elderly women. And men.

Never give an abuser a second chance.

Because if it happens once, it will happen again.

And again.

 

You deserve better, my sister.

Love yourself  and let your wounds heal.

*My abusive happened many years ago. Healing took a long time, but I have been blessed with a husband who loves me more than himself and would wrestle a grizzly bear for me and our children.

Thyroid cancer rates continue to grow; learn how to protect yourself

Image credit: WebMD

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located just below the Adam’s apple. Image credit: WebMD

I am one in 62,980.

That’s the number of Americans who will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2014.

I was diagnosed in April 2014.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland just beneath your Adam’s apple. It secretes hormones into the blood stream to control the rate that every cell and organ turns nutrients into energy. Thyroid hormones control metabolism, growth, body temperature, muscle strength, appetite, and the health of your heart, brain, kidneys, and reproductive system.

If your thyroid doesn’t work properly – neither do you.

How many people have thyroid cancer?
A weird thing has been happening with thyroid glands over the last 30 years; they started turning cancerous. Thyroid cancer had traditionally been viewed as a rare occurrence, but it is now the ninth most common cancer in the United States and continues to increase rapidly in both women and men. Three of every four people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are women. (Yippee, ladies. We can have this and PMS!)

It’s not clear what is causing this upward trend in thyroid cancer diagnoses. Some think the increase is attributed to better diagnostic technologies, while some believe that other factors may be involved.

When the number of people diagnosed with a condition climbs inexplicably, doctors look for clues to help explain it. Because thyroid cancer is four times more common in women than in men, many consider estrogen to be a factor. Some studies have suggested thyroid cells have receptors for estrogen, and the female hormone might fuel the growth of thyroid cancer cells, just as it fuels some types of breast cancer cells.

The increase in thyroid cancer may also have a technological cause. Rates began to increase when x-ray radiation was being routinely used to diagnose and treat disease. These early ex-rays used stronger radiation, and the technology was used on everything from acne to show sizing.

How is thyroid cancer discovered?
Some people never know they have thyroid cancer unless an unrelated medical scan picks it up. However, many patients report symptoms such as:

  • A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly.
  • Swelling in the neck.
  • Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears.
  • Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Trouble breathing.

My cancer revealed itself through a scan of my brain and spinal cord. The original scan identified a neuromuscular disease and benign brain mass, and as a special bonus, doctors also found three nodules nestled in my thyroid gland. An ultrasound and needle biopsy confirmed one of the masses was filled with papillary carcinoma. My only symptoms were a perpetually sore throat and painful neck.

How is thyroid cancer treated?
Most patients go through a total thyroidectomy and neck dissection after cancer cells are discovered. A surgeon removes the thyroid gland and neighboring lymph nodes to eliminate the source of cancer and check on its potential spread. This is usually followed by hormone therapy. Because your body can no longer make thyroid hormones, you must take artificial ones to keep your body functioning. The hormones also suppress any potential new growth of thyroid cells.

If the physician feels some remnant cells have remained after surgery, he may prescribe a treatment with radioactive iodine. Cancer cells and any remaining thyroid cells absorb the radiation and die off.

How can you protect yourself?
The Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association (ThyCa) is promoting a “Find it Early” campaign to encourage people to ask their doctors about neck checks and tell them about any lump or fullness in the neck, lymph node swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or voice changes. All of these be early symptoms of thyroid cancer. To learn more about thyroid cancer, visit ThyCa at www.thyca.org.

 

Scar2

This is a thyroidectomy scar. No reason to cover it up.

On a personal note
I am five months into my treatment for thyroid cancer, and I have my share of both good and bad days. My scar is right there in the center of my neck, and I refuse to cover it up. It’s part of who I am.

The synthetic hormones are currently causing me to deal with a rough case of hypothyroidism, which has caused some hair loss, weight gain, muscle aches, problems with cold temperature, fatigue and occasional bad attitude. Unlike celebrity thyroid cancer patients like Sophia Vergara or Brooke Burke, I’m a grumpy and chubby woman with bad hair and a cardigan. However, I keep reminding myself this is temporary and it is significantly better than having cancer cells growing in my body.

Since my diagnosis, I have met eight other adults who were recently diagnosed or treated for thyroid cancer: four from my church, one from my website, the sister of a dear college friend, the spouse of my husband’s coworker, and a woman who has been my second mom.

 

Related Stories from Roadkill Goldfish

What your friends with cancer want you to know (but are afraid to say)
Talking with kids: Mama has cancer, but life goes on.


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