Medical Update

If you’ve been following along, I’ve been dealing with thyroid cancer. If you want to read the last update, you can find it HERE.

You might remember that I had a doctor’s appointment on Friday. This post is an update on all of that.

I was at the cross stitch retreat and left in the morning to meet up with my daughter Kalissa so she could be there for my telehealth appointment. We both had questions that we wanted answered.

Things are more serious than I’ve let on in the past few posts. When I was at the doctor for my radioactive iodine hospitalization treatment, I asked the nuclear medicine doctor what my prognosis was. I have asked my regular cancer doctor this many times and she has been super vague. I figured new doctor, new chance to ask. I asked if I had ten years, five years, or what.

He was very quick to say that five years would be very optimistic and I likely wouldn’t make that. I am a realist type of girl so I like to know things but that kind of shocked me. I really did think I had a pretty good shot at keeping my cancer at bay until I was 61…remember 61 is my goal being my mom only lived to be 61.

I gave my kids the option of knowing my prognosis and they all chose to know so I told them. I made the decision that until I could talk with my doctor, I’d keep that a little quiet.

Then I had the scan done after my hospitalization and it showed radioactive iodine uptake in my lungs, my spine, my leg, and a spot in my abdomen. That all meant my cancer was on the move. Again, all not-so-good news.

I spent this time thinking thoughts that were new to me. I started thinking. Um..if I only have less than five years, I better start really thinking about what cross stitch piece I want to stitch…maybe it would be my last. I better recheck my will…I better do this…I better do that. It was a new mindset for me I didn’t necessarily like.

Then all of the blood work mix-up happened….then my appointment got delayed. I really was in a bit of a pickle. All I really wanted was to talk to my doctor…and sadly the nurse wouldn’t let me…and my appointment got shoved back because of the blood issue and the tumor marker being done in a different mode.

Friday was finally my appointment day. Kalissa and I made a list of questions to ask.

First off the different blood tests and the number only being 1070…not at all near the 2 we had hoped for….my doctor said don’t worry about the test. We’ll do another in 3 months. I’m on an every three months appointment schedule for the foreseeable future. Those appointments will include a blood test and scans to watch everything. I was right. The blood test was on a different scale but for now, we at least know the treatment was effective as the number was less than before the treatment. We won’t do the testing locally anymore. Now we know. The treatment often continues to work up to six months so the number won’t stay there anyway.

About the uptake in my leg. It’s rare. It’s unusual. We will watch it.

About the uptake in my abdomen. It’s small. It’s likely spreading, but could be false-looking uptake as there was radioactive iodine leaving my body and it’s hard with the scan to tell exactly where it is. We will know more in upcoming scans

Overall…the spread isn’t ideal but as long as I am treatable, it all can be treated and treated is good.

About the less than five-year life expectancy…
She said she was frustrated with the doctor for saying that and he never should have. She said that the treatments HE has to offer might run out in less than five years…but the treatments she has to offer do not. She said as long as I stay treatable, there is a lot of hope to go beyond the five years.

She explained that there is a new treatment that is about two years out that looks promising. They were having a meeting that day to determine which patients are good candidates. She said there are more drugs, more treatments and more promising things just around the corner. She said she was very hopeful…again, not likely a cure but things to do that would prolong life.

We asked her about a specific drug we know about that does prolong life but comes with some pretty nasty side effects. She said even if I get to the point of needed that, there are things to treat side effects and they work hard to get the right doses for people.

Following the visit with my doctor, Kalissa and I both felt hopeful…not that treatment would save me but that treatment would give me some more time. That’s what I know at this point…and with that, Kalissa and I parted ways and we both went off to live life and not worry about all of this until three month and I go through the blood work and scans again.

I’ve good with all of the news and feel hopeful that I’ll stick around here for a bit longer. I used to get so mad when the doctor told me, just go home and live your life until the next scans…I don’t anymore. I love that mind set.

Many thanks to everyone who has called or messaged me…sent a card or offered prayers and good wishes. It means so much!!

54 thoughts on “Medical Update”

  1. Bless you! I admire your attitude so much. I can’t imagine the roller coaster you’ve been on . You are such an inspiration! I’ll continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been going through. You’ve been in my prayers and I will continue to pray for you and your family. Stay Kramer strong!!

    1. Thanks for the update! There is hope!
      Don’t forget your blogger fans can’t cure you, but our prayers and well wishes are powerful vibes that can definitely send you life sustaining love . Life is for living…carry on and know we are there for you always!

  3. Hang in there! It’s not over till the fat lady sings and I haven’t started warming my vocal cords up yet. There are many researchers looking for ways to help or cure cancer and in 5 years miracles can occur. I worked at a medical school in Biological Chemistry and the doctors worked so hard 24/7 trying to find cures. So hang in there Girl!!

    1. Only One knows the future. Miracles happen. Prayer is powerful. I had medullary thyroid cancer….20 plus years ago…be positive. HE CAN HEAL.

  4. Rebecca Hoetger

    Jo, your attitude and strength are so admirable. They will help you in this journey. I will continue to keep you and the Kramer clan in my prayers. Sending a big hug and best wishes to you.

  5. Positive thoughts only. Your family and you will keep on top of all the options!! Keep on living and creating each day!!

  6. I am glad your doctor told you what she did. Every year new drugs and new treatments are coming out and even though you will not be cured, you may have a long life. I am also glad that your family is around you and that Kalissa was able to be with you, as Kelli has in the past, not only for support, but also good to have another set of ears hearing and absorbing what is said. You continue to be in my prayers.

  7. Lots of prayers and positive vibes coming your way. I agree that lots can happen in 5 years or less with progress in the medical field. You are one strong lady and along with your family’s support you will tackle this like you always have, with strength and courage and faith. Hugs to you and yours, Jo! Love ya!

  8. I don’t comment often, but want you to know I’m praying for you, Jo. I got a wake-up call when I learned I had had two small strokes. So now I’m on an injectable cholesterol medication and I’m told a medication for my specific problem (inherited) is only two years down the road. Taking it one day at a time, gratefully.

  9. Judith Fairchild

    Jo I’m praying for you to have God’s very best in being healed. I know you trust Jesus so keep on looking for all the good things like you’ve been doing.

  10. It has been proven that a positive attitude is important to beating cancer. I think you have this! You have so many people praying for you and such a supportive family…I know it isn’t easy, but I hope you can remain positive. Healing thoughts being sent your way! Hope the retreat is just what you needed!

  11. Thanks for taking time to share the latest update. Praying for grace and strength to meet each day… one day at a time. And wisdom to use each day wisely… which is really how we all should live.

  12. I know you won’t give up. That kills more people than illness. You know what is important and you live it out. Prayers for you and all the family. You have been courageous and honest, keep living.

  13. Hey, Jo…I am liking the attitude of your doctor a lot. You may be a realist but, she is right…the medical profession is charging full steam ahead on developing new approaches to treating cancers…and, stalling the progression of cancer (which gives us more time) is the short term goal here. Keep on keeping on! You’re doing great!

  14. I like your doctor’s attitude, and it helps to reinforce YOUR positive outlook, too. Yes, you should probably review your will – so should many of us, myself included. Yes, you should probably set priorities on your needlework, but you do that anyway. And, since you are still living, you should just keep on keeping on just as you have been. Sending all positive vibes!

  15. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Definitely get your will and such taken care of…all of us should do that, regardless of our age and health concerns. Beyond that, keep living the full, interesting, creative, loving life that you are living!! The prayers of so many are surrounding you and lifting you up. I’m so glad your medically-trained daughters can go with you to your appointments and all of you can ask questions!! Shut that doctor up that gave you a number and life joyfully for at least 20 more years!!!

  16. Jo, you have so many people praying for you and anxious to hear everything that goes on regarding your cancer. You have such a wonderful attitude toward life; I know you will continue to stay busy as much as possible, but don’t try to do too much. You are a jewel, a wonderful mother, grandmother, friend, quilter, cross-stitcher, craft-maker, doggy mom, – – – – what else can I call you???
    Stay positive (as you always seem to do) – that helps. We all love you.

  17. Echoing the thoughts of those who have commented, keeping you in my prayers all the way from Australia You are an inspiration, thank you, will pray that the new treatments can help you, as they become available. Blessings to you and your family ❤️

  18. Arrowhead Gramma

    Jo, my prayers will continue for you, your family and all the medical professionals giving you care and guidance. Take care.

  19. Beryl in Owatonna

    Thank you, Jo for the update!
    So many people are praying for you, He hears our prayers. Keep positive. You have such a wonderful family behind you and so many friends. Take time to rest when you are tired. So glad you have the hobbies you have, they will keep you busy and distracted! Will continue to pray for you and your family for wisdom and strength. Let the kids help when they can, that will be hard!! You deserve that for sure. Praying for wisdom for the doctors too!

  20. You and your family are always in my prayers! I think of you every day. My daughter just had a multi organ transplant on Good Friday. I know how powerful prayer is. You just keep a positive attitude like you have and it will be great for you. Hugs,

  21. I agree with knowing where you stand. I also know from experience that there are always either current clinical trials or those upcoming in the pipeline. Sometimes it seems like the game plan is jumping from life raft to life raft.

    I admire your attitude. Keep your eye on the future. A functional “cure” can keep you stitching for a long time.

  22. Well that is a rollercoaster ride you are being made to go on. Go with the ups – the ups are high and you can fly. Your attitude is great. Live life to the fullest – none of us know when we really have to meet our maker, so your take on it is the best and we should all take note! Cheers dear lady and rock on!

  23. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family. As long as there are new treatments coming on over time, there is always hope to prolong your life for a much longer period. Love to you. Xx

  24. Hope is a wonderful thing – every year there are advances in medicine. I’m so glad and thankful(I know you and your family are too) that the doctor has given you this hope.
    Continuing with my prayers for you, the doctors, and anyone working with you to make your life a good one. Also for your family.
    May you feel God’s love, joy, and Spirit.
    Love and prayers

  25. Your positive attitude seems to match that of your doctor. We continue to keep you in our prayers for a treatment that is effective.
    Love following your creative spirit.

  26. You,Jo, are such an inspiration to the rest of us. Your attitude will carry you through the tough times ahead and your wonderful family will always be at your side. Know that those of us who follow your blog are praying and hoping for the best.
    Enjoy each and every day and with luck you will finish all those wonderful projects!

  27. Rachel Ralston

    I definitely agree with going ahead and living your life as normally as possible. The alternative is to shut down which usually results in less time. However, it’s also a good time to look at your “ducks” and see if they’re all in a row. It’s a good idea to review things like your will, medical directives, etc. Just to make sure your haven’t changed your mind about anything since the last review. Also, you may have already done this, but if not, it’s a good idea (for everyone, not just elderly or cancer patients) to go ahead and make funeral arrangements. Get that decided, paid for, out of the way. Then your kids won’t have to worry about it. My husband and I are 61 & healthy & we’ve done all that including having our headstone already set on our plot. The only thing the kids have to do is have the “end” dates inscribed. It’s not morbid. It’s good estate planning. Plus you get to choose what you want.
    I hope they keep developing new treatments for you and that you can keep chugging along until the next one is available. If each treatment gives you more time, that’s a bonus we’d all love to have.

  28. Thank you so much for continuing to share your story. Prayers for feeling well and being able to do those things you want to do for a long, long time. You have a good doctor that reminded you of all the new treatments coming along.

  29. Keep fighting the fight Jo…hopefully the new treatments will keep getting better and better.

    Prayers for you

  30. I agree with the advice of many of the previous commenters. Your attitude makes a big difference in the outcome of your treatments and your attitude is the best. Try to stay busy with what makes you happy.

  31. Keep the positivity flowing and go prove that doctor wrong!!! And in the meantime it never hurts to take care of all the administrative stuff associated with making one’s wishes known.

  32. Mary Ann Lewellyn

    Don’t know how I stumbled across your site but I think it was meant to be. 46 years ago I was a 20 yr old woman away from home (in the Army) and I was diagnosed with “Grave’s Disease with Toxic Goiter”. Not thyroid cancer but still very serious. Dr. Told me “you should be dead of a heart attack or stroke”. Yep, at 20 years old. BP 190+ over 160+ and pulse at 150+. Sleeping 1 hour every 3 – 4 days. My body was in HYPER-drive. RAI didn’t work and RX wouldn’t work so they decided surgery was the only option. Put me on inderal for 3 weeks to try and slow my metabolism so I wouldn’t bleed out on the table. Was not effective. Had blood ready during the operation for transfusion. At the time, thyroid “issues” were not understood. Said the surgeon left a “pea sized” piece, hit my vocal cord and didn’t know if I’d speak normally again, etc., etc., etc. My voice came back after 3 months but I’ve never been the same since. Deal with all kinds of medical issues since – most annoying is weight gain issues. But I’m alive and over the years the “doctors” have gotten better dealing with thyroid issues. So my point is – “Good For You for living your life and keeping your positive attitude”. Medical advancements are continuing every day and your time is not up until you say it’s up. I wish you strength and peace in your heart. Stay well and stay strong.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s so good to see people overcoming medical issues. It gives the rest of us hope.

  33. So very glad you were finally able to talk with *your* doctor! She sounds much more capable & with it than the other one. Your positive mental attitude & skill at seeking & finding all the joy in every day that you possibly can is also a proven health advantage.

  34. Thanks for sharing your news, Jo. I’m glad your doctor has a more positive view than the other doctor. Like you say, enjoy your life in the here and now, cross stitching and quilting!
    Sending much love to you and your family.

  35. Hi Jo- I may not often comment, but I read your posts every day and pray for you daily. I’m glad you received some hopeful news.

  36. You and your family are always in my prayers. Sometimes doctors can be such jerks. I’m glad your doctor had a more positive outlook. You are an inspiration to all of us. You don’t have time for this cancer. You have too much to accomplish yet. A good attitude helps. I know from experience.

  37. Your attitude is so admirable. None of us knows what life has in store for us, it would do well for that optimism and realism to coincide in us all.
    Let’s hope that doctor shouldn’t have told you that prognosis, and that he is way off base.

  38. I’m so sorry you have to deal with insensitive doctors making callous statements. It’s so important for us to have faith in a future with our loved ones. My heart and prayers go out to you and I understand how difficult it is for you to tell your children.
    I will continue to pray for you to live a full life until you reach the magic number 61 and beyond.

  39. Continued prayers for you and for your family, Jo. And lots of hugs to you. Thank you for keeping us informed of your fight. Give the grands lots of extra hugs and extra time to make memories with Grandma Jo! And maybe, think about going ahead and writing a book for each of the grands like you did about Papa Moo. This way, you can keep adding to memories as the grands get older and they will have something tangible to pass along to their families one day. I only have a few pictures of my grandmother and wish I had lots more covering the years before she passed at age 94. My children don’t remember her.

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