"Feeling Joy"

“This lump on the right side of your throat is probably nothing,” said my primary care physician. “Most of these nodes are benign. Let’s do an ultrasound, just to be sure.”

“It’s probably nothing,” said the ultrasound technician. “Most of these nodes are benign. Let’s wait for the ultrasound results, just to be sure.


“Let’s send you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor, just to be sure,” said my primary care physician.

“It’s probably nothing,” said the ENT. “Most of these nodes are benign. Let’s do a biopsy, just to be sure.”

“It’s probably nothing,” said the biopsy team. “Most of these nodes are benign. Let’s wait for the biopsy results, just to be sure.”


“We recommend removing half of your thyroid, just to be sure,” said the ENT.

“I’m a singer,” I told her, as tears welled up in my eyes. “What are the risks to my vocal cords?”

“The risks are minor,” said the ENT, “but occasionally they are damaged because the thyroid is so close to them.”

The surgery was performed and follicular carcinoma was found and removed — I’d made a good decision.

Shortly after the surgery, my primary care physician found another lump on the left side of my throat.

Here we go again.

After several ultrasounds and another inconclusive biopsy, it was back to my ENT and an endocrinologist.

“Since you had cancer on one side of your thyroid, statistics show that you’ll probably have it on the other side,” said the team of experts. “We recommend removing the other half of your thyroid, just to be sure.”

The second surgery was performed by the same surgeon and papillary carcinoma was found and removed — I’d made another good decision.

So why did I name this story “Feeling Joy”?

Before my second surgery, I was quite emotional — much more than before the first operation. In my local networking group, we have a wonderful transformational energy worker, Patricia Westerfield of Genesis, whom I’ve seen several times for various reasons. She always gets right to the root of any issue — at the subconscious level — so I thought it was a very good time to pay her another visit.

I sat in her office and she asked me why I was upset. A lump formed in my throat. “I don’t really know.”

“Just talk about it,” Patricia coaxed.

I swallowed hard. “I think it’s about the possibility of the surgeon cutting my vocal cords during the operation. I successfully came out of the first thyroid surgery with my voice intact, and could still sing, but I am very nervous about being that ‘lucky’ the second time around.”

“What else are you feeling?”

I breathed deeply and continued. “I also think it’s odd that I seem to be more upset about not ever singing again than the fact that I might have a recurrence of cancer.”

Patricia closed her eyes and thought for a moment. “OK,” she said slowly, “let’s get to the bottom of this. How do you feel when you sing?”

My tears were suddenly accompanied by a big smile. I closed my eyes and said, “Pure joy and happiness!”

“Good. Now, if your vocal cords are unfortunately injured during the second surgery, just know that you can experience pure joy and happiness in many other ways in your life — not just by singing.”

When Patricia said that, it seemed as if I should have known this already, but I didn’t. My emotions were immediately calmed and I felt prepared for any surgical outcome.

She reminded me that my positive energy was an integral and vitally important part of the whole process. She advised me to let go of thoughts of “good” or “bad” luck and really believe that, since my surgeon was successful the first time, she would likely be so again.

My story has a happy ending. I had a successful second surgery and I’m still singing!

By the way, my surgeon had forgotten that I was a singer. I had told her the first time around and, after the second surgery, I reminded her.

“I’m so glad you didn’t tell me that before the surgery,” she said. “I sure didn’t need the extra stress!”

© 2011 Joanne Shwed

| Lila Jane Givens Miller Story of Hope | Jayne's Story of Hope | Anthony's Story of Hope | Antonette's Story of Hope | Kristine's Story of Hope | Justina's Story of Hope | Jeanne's Story of Hope | Christine's Story of Hope | Debra's Story of Hope | Piera's Story | Joanne's Story of Hope | Tom's Story of Hope | Margaret's Story of Hope | Gina's Story of Hope |
| All Stories of Hope | Stories of Hope (Tell a friend to submit their sto | Story of Courage |
| Return Home | Fundraisers | Donations | Wall of Honor | Stories of Hope | Information on Specific Cancers (A-M) | Cancer Issues | Contact Us | Site Index |

Copyright © 2019, Mary Stolfa Cancer Foundation. All rights reserved.