Friday I headed to Lacrosse for a doctor check up. It’s a trip that takes us across the Mississippi River.
It was rainy and the pictures turned out bad.
For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March 3rd of 2016. After radioactive iodine treatment I was given the green light and cleared. I still needed to go back to the doctor every six months and have a recheck…but technically cleared.
If you’re a long term blog reader you might remember that last fall there was something suspicious in my neck that they decided to check out through a biopsy. The biopsy came back okay. It was thought to be scar tissue.
Then this spring I got a bit of a set back. My blood work came back and levels that aren’t suppose to increase had increased. I did more testing including a PET scan and nothing was seen.
The doctor was still concerned about the increased numbers in my blood so ordered tests every three months vs every six months. Well the test I took over the summer showed an even higher number and now a week ago I took a test again and again, the number is rising. The number got high enough that it was an indication that the cancer likely has returned.
So with that in mind, Kelli, Kalissa and I headed off to Lacrosse to have a chat with the doctor and find out some details and learn what was next.
Before I saw the doctor I had a neck ultrasound done. I’ve had this done every six months since diagnosed. After blood work, it’s their next standard test. Today showed that what was thought to be scar tissue (is now being called a lesion) has grown. This is both good news and bad news. Let me explain.
With my number (thyroglobulin tumor marker) on the increase, it’s likely I have returned cancer.
We have looked and scanned and can’t find it anywhere. Now that the lesion grew, they are now beginning to believe that the lesion is the source of the cancer. If that’s true. We found the problem. If it’s not true, we don’t know where the problem is.
So..the next testing I need to do can’t be done at Gundersen in Lacrosse. They are moving me on to the Mayo Clinic. In the next few days, Mayo Clinic will call me with an appointment and I start doctoring there for a time. I don’t know the exact when’s and exact how’s of things but I think it will go something like this:
-in the next month I will meet with a Mayo doctor
-they will likely do a special biopsy that pulls from the lesion and testing will be done to see if there is the thyroglobulin tumor marker in the lesion
-if it is in the lesion, I will be scheduled for surgery and the lesion will be removed
-I’ll have blood work done again. If the level is back to normal, problem solved.
-I would get released back to my Lacrosse doctor
We really didn’t talk a lot about if it wasn’t the lesion that is causing the issue. I did get the impression that more and more testing and searching would be done if the lesion isn’t causing the problem. Ugh no fun.
My doctor did say that she has done this with another patient and all went well. This is not the usual process, but it isn’t abnormal either.
So before we left the doctor’s office Kalissa said to my doctor, “So we are actually suppose to be hopeful that the cancer returned and it’s in this lesion? We are suppose to hope for cancer?” The doctor said yes. Then it can be easily eliminated and chances of it spreading are slim.
I was told that if the lesion was removed it’s a more in depth process than the thyroid removal was. That doesn’t scare me as the thyroid removal was a piece of cake surgery. I had a terrible sore throat for a couple days but that was it. The rest of the recovery was no problem.
So the big question: How am I doing with it?
Good, I think. In the first go around with this I became very self aware. I know I am not defined by my body and my body and my brain are entirely two different things. My body is going to do what it’s going to do and my brain can either fight it, becoming worried and anxious, or accept it as what it is…a set back. Getting upset in my mind is only going to hurt my body so, I’m staying as far away from worry and anxiety as I can.
As a Christian I also believe that to this point, God has given me an amazing life. Every day more that I get, no matter how many, is a gift. I plan to open those gifts with gusto and live them to the fullest. I am so blessed that this has not interfered with my life. I still feel healthy. I still feel very happy.
This is not a death sentence. I really look at it as a learning experience. It’s made me so much more aware and thankful for life and for the people who are in it. I count all of you as those people too.
Some people feel uncomfortable talking about it. I am not that person. I’ll give you updates here and let you know what is happening. Thanks for all the thoughts, concerns and prayers you send my way. It’s needed and so appreciated. I’ll do my best to keep up with the blog but if there’s a day I miss…no worrying on your part…I’ll be back sortly to check in. If for some reason I can’t, Kelli will and let you know what’s up…PROMISE.