I have been sharing with you, my readers, for over 10 years now. As you likely are already aware, not everything that I experience makes it onto the blog. This happens for various reasons.
Sometimes, what I am living through is not my experience alone and therefore, according to my personal code: not my story to tell. These are often the hardest stories not to share, because in my heart I feel that there are others living through similar situations who would benefit from, if nothing else, knowing that they are not alone. That said, I have always operated by the code that I cannot write to help others by telling someone else’s story, especially if it may hurt the person to whom the story belongs. It is often the case that when I am living through that story with them, MY part of the story is something that I would want to share but I will not do so at their expense…these are times where I find myself in a very lonely place.
Sometimes the reason I don’t share is because I am living in the moment and protecting my experience. So, for example, often when I am on vacation with my husband or with my family there is SO much to share, but If I whip out my laptop, tablet or even my phone during that time, it tends to take away from the actual experience and often makes my loved ones feel like I am prioritizing my ‘work’ over spending time with them. When I return from these vacations and experiences, I have every intention of sharing, but when I return from vacation, I also return to an overflowing inbox and a backed-up To Do list…and so these stories often don’t get shared.
Another reason certain experiences don’t get shared is because I am keenly aware of my blessings and privilege. There were times during the pandemic that I wanted to share photos of a home-made feast I had prepared…but I chose not to because I was keenly aware of how many people were struggling to keep enough food on the table.
Yet another reason I don’t share certain things is because they are private, and as much as I believe in sharing, I also believe that it is ok to have a private, personal side to my life and to not share every last detail.
All of this brings me to something that, until now, I have not shared with you:
I had cancer.
My reason for not sharing actually doesn’t fall into any of the above categories at all. I didn’t share that I had cancer because I was truthfully doing OK, Thank G-d, and I did not want to make a bigger deal out of it that it needed to be. I didn’t want to dramatize getting cancer. I won’t lie that I also had the words in my head that thyroid cancer is considered ‘the cancer to get’ if a person is going to get cancer. Many people who are faced with a potential or actual diagnosis of thyroid cancer have heard these words. In retrospect, while those words are great for maintaining a positive attitude, I think they make some people who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer feel that their fears are not validated. For that reason, I feel it is important to mention that thyroid cancer is a very real disease and that anyone who is faced with it should have their concerns and fears validated. I will add to my story that I didn’t actually know for sure that it was cancer until after half my thyroid had been removed and analyzed. I think that in some ways, that made it easier because once I knew that it was for sure cancer, it had already been removed. I was also fortunate in that I did not require any treatment in addition to the surgery. I did have to start taking medication a few months post-op, but that was it. True that during most of my follow-up appointments I had to go see a lymph node specialist to biopsy my lymph nodes, but Thank G-d, all has been clear…so really, what was there to write about? That said, I always felt that I would write about it one day in an effort to educate others about thyroid cancer in general, but there was no reason for me to write about it right away.
Well, today, I have a reason to write about it.
After my surgery to remove the side of my thyroid which contained the cancer (known as a partial thyroidectomy), I was instructed by my doctor to keep the scar covered for one year.
My husband and I were scheduled to take a ‘bucket list’ trip to Hawaii which would have been non-refundable since we had paid with travel vouchers. My doctor had given me the OK to go, but I was concerned about keeping my scar protected while swimming, walking on the beach and generally being out and about in the sun. I had a few small and large scarves, but ‘scarf on the beach’ just wasn’t me. I needed something small, streamlined and as I put it at the time: ‘less Madame’. I needed a solution, I just was not sure what that solution would be.
When I started to go for walks after my surgery, I would cover up with a high-necked jacket. One day, I left the house and while I was walking, realized that my scar was still exposed. I happened to have had a headband on as well as a pony tail holder handy. I decided to slide the headband over my head and around my neck and to then tighten it using the elastic band. I figured that I might look a little awkward, but at least my scar was protected. When I got home and went into the washroom to wash up, I noticed how it looked in the mirror…and it was NICE! I was certain that this was what I needed. I proceeded to buy a bunch of the headbands in various colours, added some snap closures and had my first collection of neck bands.
These neckbands were perfect for Hawaii – I wore them hiking, swimming, walking on the beach and even out to dinner as sunset was late and I wanted to keep my scar protected in a stylish and streamlined way. They also proved to be perfect for everyday use when I returned back home.
I kept my scar covered for as long as my doctor had advised and I also used the cream that he recommended once I was allowed to, as he did not recommend doing so for the first little while. I can tell you that today my scar is barely visible. Without question, this is hugely due to my phenomenal doctor and his incredible surgical skills. It definitely helped that he took great care to make the incision in an existing neck crease- BRILLIANT! That said, I also believe that the fact that I took great care in protecting my scar made a difference as well. I should also add that even today, years later, I have noticed that if my scar does get exposed to the sun for prolonged periods, it begins to darken and get more pronounced… so guess what? I continue to wear my neckband when I go out on the lake, hit the beach or when I know that my neck will be exposed to the sun for longer periods of time.
At the time that I created my bands, I could not believe that such a thing did not already exist and I knew that I had to share my idea with the world.
This past year I decided that I would finally bring this idea to life and thus Bandino was born.
I have officially launched mybandino.com where you can view 4 different collections of Bandino neckbands. There is a SWIM collection, an EVERYDAY collection, an ACTIVE collection and a FORMAL collection. Why so many collections? Because I believe that those with neck scars should have a way to protect those scars that is both fun and fashionable whether at the pool or the beach, while running errands or just running, or while attending a formal event – especially with so many events being outdoors nowadays!
Finally, it was important to me that this project also help support Thyroid Cancer Research. I have chosen to donate a percentage of the proceeds of the sale of each and every Bandino to the Head and Neck Department of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. This is the hospital where I was treated and I will forever be grateful for the care that I received from my Doctor and from the staff there.
I invite you to take the time to check out the entire Bandino collection at mybandino.com . If you know someone who has had thyroid surgery or will be having thyroid surgery, please share the link with them . If you are looking for a post-op gift for a loved one going through thyroid surgery, take a look at our Gifts & Bundles section where you will find a selection of gift sets as well as the Bandino Bloom and Bandino Bouquet 🙂 You can also find and Like @mybandino on Facebook and Follow @mybandino on Instagram .
For those of you wondering, Bandino is proudly made right here in Montreal. It was important to me to keep production local and I intend to keep it that way.
I am thrilled to finally introduce Bandino to the world and I hope those who have had thyroid surgery are as excited about it as I am 🙂
It is often said that something good comes out of something bad. While I would definitely have preferred to have not danced with cancer, I am grateful that it was a relatively short dance B”H and I hope that my little ‘invention’ that was inspired by that dance will make the recovery period a little bit easier for others who have the same surgery as I did.
I will add that it feels à propos to launch this new venture during Thyroid Cancer Awareness month.
Here’s to finding inspiration through challenging experiences, to bringing dreams to life and to new beginnings 🙂