Doctor Update

I went to the doctor for an MRI on Thursday and then back on Friday for a doctor’s appointment and what I hoped would be a plan. For those of you new here, in 2015 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had surgery and treatment in 2016. Slowly it started coming back. I was on a watch-and-wait plan. In the fall of 2021, it was back and ugly and in my lungs. In January of 2022, we treated it using a redifferentiation protocol and I was doing really well until August of this year. Again, cancer was back only this time it was now in my spine. Specifically my L1 and L5 vertebrae. Since early August I’ve been back and forth to the doctor, fighting insurance and fighting to get timely appointments. It’s been not so fun but okay.

Thursday I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and had a spine MRI. It was not a fun process. I did get some stitching time in though.

I have never “been in the box” (scanner) so long. I’ve had 45 minute scans…no problem but this was 2 hours. I was not a fan. No fun at all. If you’ve had an MRI, you know how annoying the beeping and buzzers are. After 75 minutes they took me out and added contrast then back in I went for 35 more minutes. The whole process took two hours…but hey, I’m not going to let that get me down and I’m going to really try not to think about it until I have to do it again as I’m sure this will be a test that I’ll have to repeat.

On both days I parked in Graham on 4th level. Parking is always an issue at Mayo. I religiously took a picture of where I parked but didn’t on Friday because I was at the same spot as the previous day. HA!

On Friday morning Izzy had a grooming appointment so I took her and stayed at work for an hour to help out. Then Kalissa, my daughter met me there and we took off to Rochester. We got there early…We were going to a new place and weren’t sure just where so we left 15 minutes sooner than we normally would.

Once I got to the desk the gal said something about the appointment–s, as in plural, that I had today. What? No. I only had one appointment. She said no. I had two in the afternoon as well. Hmm. I didn’t know what that was about and asked. She said the doctor had just made them. Okay. Then the thought went through my head that maybe this was all bad and they were going to get me through to treatment right away. Then I looked and saw that one was listed as a spine MRI. WHAT? I just had one yesterday. The receptionist assured me that we’d keep the appointments as we could always cancel them.

We were called back for the appointment ON TIME!! To date, this has never happened at Mayo.

We waited in the office room for about five minutes and a PA arrived. WHAT?? This has never happened.

Already Kalissa and I were impressed with this new doctor and his team. The PA started talking to us and explaining everything and then the doctor himself came in. We LOVED them both. We have never felt so good at any appointments to date.

It was so good that Kalissa and I both before he left, told him how impressed we were…how listened to we felt…and how optimist we felt.

So, here’s the news. I do have lesions on L1 and L5. No other places at this point. They are concerning but not life-changing. They are totally treatmentable and my prognosis is that they will get better with this treatment. In fact, I have a 90% chance of everything going smoothly and this treatment will kill the cancer in my spine. When I told this to Buck, my son, I laughed and said, “But you know, I am pretty good at beating the odds”. So I’m very hopeful.

So what’s my treatment? One big dose of radiation on October 10th and that’s it. I am elated!! I can do that. It’s totally do-able.

There is prep work before that and that is what my new appointments were about.

For my first appointment, they took me back and I laid on a board and they put this shrink wrap kind of stuff around me…Kalissa and I jokingly called it a body bag and then they sucked all of the air out of it. I then conformed to my body shape. When I go back for the radiation, I will lay on that same conformed shape and that will hold me in place so I can get zapped. I had a CT scan and then yet another MRI. The MRI was the second appointment and was really more or less a test of the fake radiation making sure it was targeted correctly.

People…this is all do-able. I do have some follow-up appointments later in October and again in November but I’m feeling really good about this.

As for side effects…
-tired
-nauseous
-redness and tenderness at the site

He says other than the cancer, I’m healthy and in good shape so he doesn’t forsee even those to be terrible. We’ll see. Even if they are bad, I’m okay with that. It’s a much easier treatment than most cancer patients endure…and fingers crossed…it’s 90% successful in killing it. YAHOO!!

While talking with the doctor, Kalissa and I both complimented the doctor on his team. We told him previously we haven’t felt awesome about my care while at Mayo. He apologized for that and thanked us for the compliment. It felt so good to feel like he truly cared about me and wanted the best for me. He even apologized that I would have to wait until October 10th for this treatment. Next week he’d be going to California for the work conference. He said he normally takes care of cases like mine right away. WOW! What a difference a good doctor can make!!

So…all is well on the cancer front.

A HUGE thanks to the blog readers who sent me a Chick-fil-A gift card. Kalissa and I used that today (YUM! It hit the spot. We even treated ourselves to shakes with our meal)…and thanks for the gas gift card that was sent by another blog reader. I so appreciate all of the support. We’re kicking this cancer to the curb (this time)

The doctor did say that this could be a recurring thing and cancer could flair somewhere else. I’m okay with that…I’m just happy to know that this will likely buy me a few more years.

73 thoughts on “Doctor Update”

  1. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Such great news – especially with the new PA and doctor doing such a good job with their “bedside manner”!!! Makes all the difference in the world!!! Continued prayers for you and your family as you go through the new treatments.

  2. I’ve been following your blog for years and pray for your health. I am a 3 time cancer survivor (Non Hodgkins Lymphoma 2005, breast cancer 2007 and 2022). We just push onward and trust our doctors. So happy you got good news. Isn’t it nice you can stay busy with your family, work, gardening, quilting and cross-stitch. Love your blog!

  3. This is truly good news – you’ve been in my prayers and now I can thank God that things are progressing smoothly for you. So happy you have a good team working with you.
    Love and prayers

  4. Meredith in Cincinnati

    This is such good news! It makes all the difference when you feel your doctor and his team are really taking such good care of you. Prayers for healing coming to you from so many people, all over the world.

  5. Happy you liked and felt so comfortable with the new doctor!
    Interesting about the body wrap, I was imagining Kathy Bates in the Fried Green Tomatoes movie when she wrapped herself in saran wrap :)
    Praying the very best for you!!

  6. Great news Jo. I’ve had fabulous doctors in the Mayo ophthalmology department, I think they are the absolute best. And now you have a great doctor in your group too. You are a trooper with all this and we are all hoping this is an easy fix! Good Luck!

  7. So happy you are feeling good about your new doctor and your treatment! You area real trooper. Continued prayers for you and your family.

  8. Susan from Michigan

    You have such a wonderful attitude about this whole situation. Yes, a good doctor and team makes all the difference in the world. So happy you have him and a plan. Also, I’ve really enjoyed your insightful way of writing in the blog.

  9. It’s so good to hear some good news about your cancer outlook. How wonderful to have a Dr that you’re pleased with and seems to be really taking care of you. That’s half the battle. Yes, you’ve got this! Continued prayers and well wishes for your progress. Hugs!!!

  10. I so happy for you, Jo! You’ve been through a lot so the radiation will be a breeze for you. Having a good caring team in charge is so helpful. Thank you for posting and keeping us all up to date on you cancer journey and life in general.

  11. For continuing to face cancer and more treatment to come, thank you for showing us all that it can be dealt with through a positive can-do attitude. You’re such a remarkable human, Jo! So thankful for your new care team. Will be praying that you continue to be blessed.

  12. Clicked on your post this morning and up come the crap stuff. I could see enough to know it was about your appt. so had to cool my heels until it sorted out. After reading your post I am in happy tears!! I have such faith it will work out for you. What wonderful news. Yay!!

  13. A good doctor makes all the difference. And it sounds like a well laid out plan. Prayers as you move forward and get this taken care of.

  14. This has been my prayer and will continue to be what I pray for…that whatever comes along will be treatable and you will have many, many more years. Not just a few.

  15. Jo, God has heard all the prayers that have been given for you and we know that God answers our prayers. Stay strong, you can do this. I have been in remission nearly 12 years from Ovarian Stage 3 and I know that God hears our prayers. Take care.

  16. Wow, oh wow! I am so happy for you and your family. Wonderful news. Prayers have been answered. Jo, you will do so well as your positive attitude will see you through. Prayers will continue to be sent.

  17. Having a doctor who is a good listener is such a bonus! I’m so glad your treatment isn’t too far off. Big hugs & continuing prayers.

  18. So glad you have good news. The ups and downs can really get to a person. I know from experience. You just got to have to let the holy spirt speak to your heart. I really believe that.

  19. That’s amazing news! Glad they can take care of it.

    Sounds like you have a great team working with you now at Mayo Clinic.

    You go Jo!

  20. Hi there Jo. I’m so glad to hear your cancer is treatable and you have hooked up with a doc that realizes the importance of bedside manner in a successful outcome. Remember how tough and brave you are. Get well soon. We’re all cheering for you!

  21. That’s is wonderful news – a great medical team, one time treatment soon with a 90% success rate. The shrink wrap is a strange experience. Had the same for my breast cancer radiation. Since yours is a one time treatment maybe the burning won’t be significant. You got this!

  22. Jo I have been waiting to hear how you are progressing on your treatment. Thanks for sharing all of this with us. I hope it makes it easier knowing that so many of us care. You are an inspiration to us all in so many ways. Quilting, cross stitching, your new job, taking time for you, your family and the list goes on. May we all just take a little from you.
    On the flip side we just got back from Texas seeing our kids there. My 8 year old grandson was impressed with the CD card holders. He even tried to stitch around the fabric to gather it around the CD. I told him to do his best and then showed him how it needed to be done. I drew a line around the fabric and then he was able to follow it much better. It drew up the fabric around the cd and we called it good. I made eight of them and said he could share with his friends as the like to play cards when the adults get together. Thanks for sharing the post.

  23. Awesome!!! Just awesome!!! SO glad to hear this is treatable – and such a relatively “easy” thing to do. Also glad you don’t have to wait for it much longer!!
    I’m sure you are relieved and what a wonderful thing to have such a good experience with this Dr.!
    Prayers – many prayers going up!

  24. Just a thought – did you ask the doctor to flag your medical record that you want only HIM and his TEAM for your care in this process? It’s important to have a relationship with your care team in something like this and if you don’t ask you’ll never get it….and remind him again you want ONLY HIM AND HIS TEAM as they care and no one else has to this point. That way he’ll remember you and your case and your future care will reflect it. It’s advocating for yourself and your care — and while we shouldn’t have to ask for something like this, WE DO! I continue to pray for you, your family & your care team — of which God is foremost in front, leading the way. Blessings to you, Jo! Deb E

    1. sadly this doctor only deals with radiation. He has nothing to do with thyroid cancer so I have to go back to my regular doctor after this treatment.

  25. Wow Jo That’s wonderful news. A great Dr and medical team truly are a Blessing. I’m glad you’ve had a turn in your diagnosis. I agree that 2 hr time in a MRI tube is no fun. My comforting thought was that The Lord was holding me close and right there with me. I’ll be keeping you in prayer. I’m so Thankful that there is such a positive team that will be right there and explaining things as you go. You have way too much talent to slow down now lol.
    Blessings always
    June

  26. Jo, I am so very pleased to hear there has been good progress at last in your treatment at Mayo. The Lord has answered so many prayers by giving you a doctor and team who really care about you and you will be getting the treatment you need very soon. I will continue to pray for you and am so thankful for you. I look forward to hearing from you every day via the blog and feel like I know you even though we have never met.

  27. So happy to hear the good news, for you deserve it so very much. We all love you and want the very best for you. You brighten our days and those of your family and friends. I admire you so much and appreciate how you are willing to share you life with us. Thank you, and we are all sending up the most heartfelt prayers for your continued recovery.

  28. Praying for you. Great news.story here I have a friend that has had cancer 9 times and she is in her 90s. So you got lots of time. Keep your spirits high. Donette

  29. Jo,
    I am so glad to hear about your experience with the doctor and the PA. Feeling like they really care can make such a difference in YOUR attitude and it is such a big part of your treatment being successful. I just know you are going to do well.
    I think I sent this info to you not too long ago but if I did maybe others would like to look and see if it’s something they’d like to stitch. When I saw it it just seemed so “ Jo like” to me.
    It’s a pattern from The Scarlett House called “ A Sampler For All Seasons,”. It was released in 2022 so easy to find online and if you hunt you can probably find it discounted a little. I love the verse and the four season scenes.

  30. Wow! 4 hrs ago this was coded. Now it’s readable in the email. Go figure! Jo, this is the best news. Praise be to God.

  31. Jo, i can’t tell you how grateful i am for your news!!! onward and upward to many many more wonderful years! prayers continuing
    shoshana

  32. This is Good News! Yeah! Glad your experience with this new Doctor and team was good! That will make such a difference! Glad Kalissa was with you!

  33. SUCH GOOD NEWS!!! I have been scouring sites trying to find the DR report. The first one I saw was ineligible, in code or something. This thought in my email was great. Again wonderful news.

    1. Sweetie – the next time someone asks how you are doooooooooooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnngggggggggg…. you tell them YOU ARE KICKING AAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS !!

  34. Great news! I’m so happy for you. Prayers continuing. I am having the cancer screening done next month. I found out I am eligible and I am nervous but hopeful. I quit smoking 3 yrs. ago and have had your voice in my head about getting this done since you talked about it.

  35. I’m relieved to hear your good news. It sounds like you have this under control. A good doctor and team can make all the difference. I continue to lift you and your family up to the Lord. God bless you all.

  36. Tha’t wonderful news. Yesterday, I couldn’t read the Doctor Update, but thanks to another reader’s comment, I saved the email and tried again today and all is well. From now on I will try this method every time one of your blog contents is not readable. Thanks again and best wishes to you.

  37. I am soo glad you had a good experience at Mayo ! Mine was not cancer but I did have good experiences and am usually excited to tell people how organized they are ! Glad it’s that way for YOU at least ! So glad for the good news !

  38. What wonderful news to read, I’m so happy for you and that the treatment sounds so doable!! Yea! for some happy news. I think it was super nice of you both to compliment the doctor while you were there, I hope he shared with his staff. I had to wait to read this news, because the blog sent me gibberish but what wonderful, good news it is.

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