Ask Jo: Cancer Update

I’ve had a lot of people asking how I’m doing…if I have any side effects left, and what’s the plan for the future. Rather than answer all those comments and emails individually, I thought I would answer them all here in one blog post.

If you are new here, I have thyroid cancer. I was treated in early March with a process called redifferentiation. I was given oral chemo to destabilize the cancer cells so they would take radioactive iodine to hopefully kill the thyroid cancer cells that have metastasized in my lungs and other places.

The first question…How am I doing?
I’m doing great. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in the last five years. I’m doing exactly what my doctor told me to do. I’m living my life…and I’m enjoying my life. I’m trying to live in the moment concentrating on what’s here and now in front of me and not what lies ahead. I’ll get to whatever that is then, for now it’s today and today is making me happy.

Are there any side effects left?
Yes. There are some lingering things. For the most part, my taste has come back but it’s still not “right”. I don’t do the best at tasting food and correctly adding spices. I’m a person who “cooks by taste”. When people have come over and I’ve cooked, I put some spices in but then set the spices on the table because I don’t trust myself to add spices in a way that makes anything taste normal.

I still don’t like carbonated drinks. They just taste “off”. The carbonation doesn’t feel good in my mouth.

Certain flavors like anything salty can trigger my mouth to dump saliva. So if I eat something like a pickle, my mouth might dump a bunch of saliva in my mouth when I’m about halfway through eating it. It is a little nasty, but I’m getting used to it.

The side of my jaw on the right up towards my ear is swollen. That’s where my salivary gland is. The poor thing just isn’t happy so it’s making life a little uncomfortable for me. I’m taking some ibuprofen and using heat on it. Massage is another thing I’m trying. I have a regular physical coming up and plan to talk to my doctor then.

This all happened that last time I had Radioactive Iodine too. I think I was about 6 months post-treatment before I felt “normal”. Right now I am at 2- 1/2 months out since treatment so I might have a good bit to go before I feel “normal”.

It is much easier to handle this time though as there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve been through it before. I am also in a much better place mentally.

What’s the plan for the future?
Going ahead, I will be seen at Mayo Clinic again at the end of July. I’ll have scans and bloodwork to see where I am at and to really find out how effective the treatment was. Fingers crossed for good news.

Those are the main updates. I’ll probably not do another one until after my appointments at the end of July. I’m trying to enjoy life and not dwell on the side effects or future of my diagnosis. There’s too much good life to live between now and then.

I do want to take a moment to thank all of you who have been so supportive of me. The cards, notes, thoughtful goodies, and gift cards have really helped make this all doable.

Here is a portion of the cards that were sent to me…

More in this box…

There are even a few more that I had hoped to write thank you notes to!! I was blown away by all of your kindnesses.

Then Mary at Chicken Scratch Country Threads blog mentioned me and another showering of cards came from her readers. Oh my!! Many of those cards came from random strangers who just wanted to do a nice deed and cheer me on.

I can’t begin to thank all of you…I thank Mary and her readers too. WOW. You’ve been with me through this journey with me and didn’t give up on me. I appreciate that so much. It’s likely not over but for now…all is well.

15 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Cancer Update”

  1. Judith Fairchild

    You’re the tops when it comes to dealing with life in general. Your attitude towards what you’re living with is a great example for your readers to follow. I know the road you’re traveling isn’t easy in anyway, but the way you’re doing is A+ all the way.

  2. Jo I just read your post from January 2021 on your thyroid journey. It was so very I formative and I thank you for that. I don’t have cancer but do have to take medication for hypothyroidism. Many in my family have thyroid issues, from sisters to nieces. I tell my daughters to get checked regularly for thyroid.
    You have done wonderful with all that has gone on in your life and have such a supportive family and followers right here. Thanks for sharing all of this.

  3. Jo, thank you for sharing this update. I can totally understand that you want to live in here and now and not dwell your sickness. Your attitude creates the happiness you have, that’s so wonderful! It is great that you are able to work where you do at what you enjoy, and that your supportive family is so near to you. Continued prayers for you.

  4. Martha W in WY

    Thank you for the cancer update. I do the same thing with spices. I don’t like really spicy food, especially chili and Mexican foods. I like your attitude…live life to the fullest.

  5. Living your life and being present in the moment is a great attitude. Love your willingness to share your medical journey with us all.

  6. I’m glad you are getting through this with such a positive attitude. It can’t be easy, but your mindset certainly can help the whole experience be a little easier. I wish you continued healing and happiness living your life. I admire your ability to share and focus on the good things. I don’t recall my husband’s side effects from the Radioactive Iodine treatment. I just remember he ate a lot of matzah because it’s iodine-free. Please take care and be good to yourself. While it’s great to get an update from you, it’s even better to see the outpouring of support that is coming TO YOU.

  7. Suzanne in Michigan

    Dear Jo, I love reading about your cross-stitching & quilting AND your thrifting adventures! Grandkid visits and dog foster posts are also a favorite. But the best posts are those like this one when we get to hear that you are doing well, making your way through this health situation with joy and grace. Thank you for being an inspiration and example to me. Prayers continue! ~ Suzanne

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