6-Week Post Cancer Surgery Lessons

Today marks the 6-week anniversary since my thyroid cancer surgery. I am so much happier this morning than I was on the big day, that’s for sure! In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. I e-mailed my endocrinologist early last week to find out how long it takes for the natural thyroid stored in my system to be used up because I wanted to know at what point am I functioning just on the replacement medication and he said six weeks.

It might be my imagination, but today was the first day that I woke up a little less energetic than I have been. I only have two more weeks before I’m doing my first full blood work panel and seeing my doctor, though, so I am just going to see how I feel between now and then. My tiredness this morning could also been from having a busy weekend and feeling the effects from that.

Yesterday, I went out to eat with some friends and then to a local holiday show that ended up being a lot of fun:

Before the show, we went to a restaurant where I thought there wouldn’t be any healthy, vegan options so I did something I have never done before: I brought my own food into a restaurant! I would have never, ever done this in the past, but I was familiar with the layout of the restaurant and knew that if we were seated in a booth, I would be tucked into a corner and nobody would probably even notice. Fortunately, my friends are quirky enough that they didn’t bat an eye at my quirkiness and, as expected, none of the servers or patrons at the restaurant even noticed when I busted out my portable glass dishes from my cloth tote bag. It was great! (Sorry, no photos, but I was trying to be so discrete). ๐Ÿ™‚

My new attitude about being more confident in my food choices got me thinking to what other dietary and attitude changes I’ve made since finding out I had cancer. I want to share them with you because I think they are helpful. I wrote another short list of lessons in this post, but here are a few more:

1. It’s my body and my health and nobody but me is responsible for it. It was such a strange experience to be diagnosed with cancer and feel that, despite tons of support from friends and family, it was going to be my own obstacle to face. I had never felt that level of responsibility to my own health and it made me more confident in my choices to take care of it. That feeling of being in charge of my health has stayed with me.

2. It is my choice to decide what and how much I eat. Do you ever feel self-conscious about what other people think about your diet? As someone who chooses to eat not only a vegan diet, but one that is primarily whole foods made with no oils, salt or added sugars, I am definitely in the minority and have felt awkward about my choices in the past. Again, having cancer just wiped out any self-consciousness about what other people think about what and how much I eat.

3. I’m a health advocate and I enjoy talking about the benefits of a vegan diet. Now that I’ve gone through this health crisis and am a full-fledged cancer survivor, I am finding it a lot easier to talk to people about how my diet impacted my journey. I had the opportunity to write a lot more about my burgeoning advocacy that is going to be published soon on another site; I will be sure to share that link with you when it is available. But, ultimately, what I’ve found is that having this story to share with people on my blog and in person has made it much easier for me to talk about my veganism and the health and ethical implications of this way of living.

I’m sure I’ll continue to learn from my experience and I thank you for letting me share it with you.

The big adventure that I’m going on later this week is that I’m attending Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Immersion in San Francisco! I’m so, so excited to have the opportunity to meet more “Fuhrmanites,” let alone hear more great lectures from the man himself:

I think the Getaway I attended in August was the highlight of this year so far and I honestly can’t wait for this coming weekend for more fun and learning. I’ll also be volunteering with Dr. Fuhrman’s non-profit foundation, the Nutritional Research Foundation and helping to raise money for an upcoming breast cancer prevention study that is going to be so cool and ground-breaking.

This week is going to be busy as I continue to work on wrapping up this semester and getting ready for hit the road to SF. Have a great Monday and I’ll be back here on Wednesday with more food photos!


  1. says

    Six weeks already? That kind of went by quick.
    You might just be having a day where you don’t feel super energetic – they happen ;p
    I can’t believe you brought your own food into a restaurant – what a genius move. I should have thought of this ages ago! Whenever I go to visit my family I know I won’t be able to eat at restaurants they enjoy so we’ve started getting take out for them and I get take out from a healthier place and we eat at my sister’s.
    Have fun this weekend =)

  2. cathy graf says

    I will bring my own food into a restaurant because of my food issues/intolerances. I ate at a restaurant 2 weeks ago and ordered gluten free items; but 1/2 hr after eating I was sick. The next day was ruined. We ate their again as a family Wed. before Thanksgiving and cause I didn’t want to ruin my Thanksgiving Day, I brought my own food. I complained to the manager and ended up with a gift card; but don’t know as I want to eat there again. I don’t care what people think when I’m eating out; it’s not worth being sick or compromising what your values are.

  3. says

    It’s amazing how those first few days after surgery feel like forever. But they somehow become weeks and eventually months and suddenly it feels like another lifetime.

    The post surgery attitudge changes you mention interest me. Since I’ve gone through my battle (sweat gland cancer, we talked about it on twitter) I’ve gained a huge level of strength and self confidence. In discussing it with my boyfriend, he found the self confidence particularly interesting (in a good way) because of my large facial scar.

    Long story short (too late?), it’s interesting how such positive things can come from such difficult times. I’m glad you’re recovering well ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Caroline says

    I loved hearing about taking your own food. I made your lentil & rice salad to take to a friend’s place yesterday (it was yummy btw!) plus green beans and a green salad. For the first time I bought kidney beans (they were serving tri-tip) and made my own plate with the beans. I portioned out some green beans and salad and served them with your almond dressing while they had beans in butter and a vinaigrette dressing and cheese on the salad. You know I felt strange but there were no comments. Luckily for me they know about my diet and although may think it odd, when they do ask questions is is only to learn and not to intimidate. After reading your blog entry today, I will feel empowered to do more of the same in the future!
    As a fellow cancer survivor, congrats on getting to the 6 week mark with such a positive attitude. Oddly enough I found that the diagnoses (yes I had more than one!) made me healthier and stronger. Just a shame that it took cancer for me to make the changes permanent but better late than never!

  5. Robyn says

    I always something good always comes out something difficult/scary/bad…it’s all learning in a good way…so happy for you and your recovery and confidence in your choices,,,what an awesome outing you will have ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. says

    That’s great that you are growing in confidence about your lifestyle. I can relate to #3 above. After confronting my own health struggles and using my diet to help recovery, I, too, talk about my veganism with much more ease. I’ve found that this personal connection to veganism is much less threatening to people, and they’re more open to hearing what I have to say.

    I enjoyed the posts from the Dr. Fuhrman getaway this summer, and so I’m looking forward to reading about the Immersion you’re attending!

  7. bitt says

    Interesting about the thyroid being in your system for 6 weeks. I want to know more how it works now, because I have hypo (possible hashimoto’s).

    I am totally with you on food stuff. you have to do what makes you feel best, it’s not worth it to be sick! If people can’t understand even with how much you’ve gone through, well, too bad for them.

  8. says

    It is so empowering that you have been able to take a cancer diagnosis and transform it into positive things in your life – good for you! Because being so self-confident about your food choices is definitely a wonderful thing.

  9. says

    Hi Carrie, it has been so great to hear from you about your cancer journey. My diagnosis was a few months back, and while I have a very different condition and am currently undergoing treatment, the intersection of your diet and health priorities and being conflicted with the illness you presented with is refreshing to hear about. I agree 100% about the diagnosis being “strange” — it is still bizarre knowing that I am going through all of this when it is something I distanced myself from and never prepared for. Eating a plant-based diet for the past 3+ years, I felt as though I directly distanced myself from being anywhere near cancer. I admire your courage and truly appreciate hearing your thoughts. I feel more prepared and more confident in taking control over my body and my health the same way you claim your responsibility.

    • says

      Hi Jared, thanks so much for your comment. I went to your blog and read about your experience and I am so, so inspired by your story. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the very best on the challenges ahead of you. I hope you are getting the support you need. I have found that the cancer community is as open and supportive as the vegan community, although I never, even thought I would be a member of the “cancer club.” I’m sending you a virtual hug and all kinds of healing vibes and thoughts.

    • says

      Phew, I am so glad that I am not the only one to bring food to a restaurant!!! I seriously felt like an idiot at first and then I just went with it. I think the first time was the hardest and I’m definitely going to do it again in the future if I need to. I wish you were coming to the Immersion!!! I will take lots of food pictures, I hope the hotel food staff is up to the challenge, I think this might be the first time at this hotel.

  10. says

    Hi Carrie,

    Good to hear you got that cancer under control. Hope you’re feeling much better and by the way you like radiant!

    Oh, did you know that Aloe Vera Juice is a cancer killer? Something for your toolbelt. I used it to heal my intestines from Crohn’s Disease.

    I am a Crohn’s Disease Survivor. In 1998, I literally vomited to death in an ambulance. Fortunately, the EMT’s re-started my heart, thus this comment.

    The Vegan Diet saved my life and rejuvenated my health. I went all the way and don’t eat any animal foods at all.

    My family and I went totally Vegan all together for support and we feel awesome inside. My wife lost 70 pounds last year.

    We will never go back to eating animal foods ever again. Just not the best or healthiest form of food to eat. Plant foods are what our digestion is designed for.

    Have a great day! : )


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