Yesterday was the start of my test week with my thyroid cancer. If you’ve been following along, you know that we found out in October that my thyroid cancer has spread to my lungs and we’re hoping to find a way to treat it. Over the last month, I have been on oral chemo trying to weaken the tumor and aid it to be receptive to taking radioactive iodine.
This treatment is a bit of a “Hail Mary” effort. There is only a 50% chance of it working but we’re giving it the old “college try”. I’m very hopeful but also realistic. Even if it does work the chances of it completely eradicating the cancer are not probable. This is a treatment to buy me some time and maybe let me see my grandkids get a little older. That would be awesome.
People get frustrated with me when I say this but right now, my goal is to make it 61. My mom was 61 when she passed. One time I said this to Kelli and she got made. She told me I needed a higher number. I smiled and told her that I was willing to set a new goal if I make it that far…and that’s the attitude I’m having with all of this. This attitude helps me remember to take each day as a gift. I don’t ever want to forget that.
For those wondering, I’m 56 now. I just had my birthday in December and I’ve been dealing with follicular thyroid cancer for 6 years. Outside of feeling crappy for a month when I was first treated, and feeling crappy here this last week, I’ve felt completely and totally normal through it all. No one seeing me on the street would ever know I have cancer. That has been a real blessing.
For that reason, many people have termed Thyroid Cancer as the “good” cancer to get. That can be true for people who have Papillary Cancer. Their cancer is the stories you hear about people who get one treatment and then they are done. That’s not as likely to happen with people who have Follicular Thyroid cancer. It can, and does, but the people who have complications like mine, don’t have Follicular or the other two more rare forms. Happily, Papillary is much more common so most people don’t have the ongoing hiccups as I do. I say this as a reminder to anyone who gets a cancer diagnosis to not automatically think, you will have to go through what I am doing.
Yesterday was my first trip to Rochester to the Mayo Clinic. Many of you who have read the blog for a long time might remember that I was traveling to LaCrosse, WI for previous treatments. Well, my case is past their abilities so I was shipped to Mayo in 2018, went back to LaCrosse, back to Mayo in 2019, and am now permanently here. Previous to this I had doctors who specialized in Endrocinology but did not have the Oncology specialty to go with Endocrinology. My current doctor does. She is one of two at the Mayo Clinic.
This week I have a series of shots and scans. I might end up having to take an evening blog post off as I don’t know if I’ll be back in time to write. So, if I miss a blog post, no worrying one your part. I’m okay.
A kind blog reader sent me a gift of money along with a note encouraging me to stay in Rochester at a hotel and not make the daily two-hour commute to Mayo. It was so sweet and so kind but unless the weather is bad, I’m going to commute. I thought about it long and hard, but I’m a homebody. My home is such a comfort to me. Being able to come home reminds me that I am more than just a medical condition. It reminds me that there is so much to live for.
There are some other considerations too…Rosie, my beagle. She doesn’t do the best with anyone else but me. Yes, she can do it, and will if need be, but she loves me best. My kids will all tell you that too. (This is a picture of Rosie from two years ago when she was just a pup)
There is the blog…it’s so much easier to manage from my home computer. Yes, I can take a laptop, but I hate working on it that way. I know you’d all be fine if I was gone a week but it brings normalcy to my life…and right now, normal feels REALLY good.
I can still see my family in the afternoons and evenings. If I am able to take the Radioactive Iodine at the end of the week, I won’t be able to see anyone for a couple of weeks. That’s no fun. I want to soak up what I can of family time. I won’t be able to see the grandkids until February. I know that’s regular for some grandma’s but for me, that is A LONG TIME.
I love my own bed. I love being about to get a couple of things done around here. I love getting my own mail. There is just so much to love at home that I would miss at the hotel.
Then there is my diet. That is the biggest factor in this all. Right now, I can’t eat anything with iodized salt in it. That includes things with naturally occurring iodized salt. No milk or dairy products…limited meat. No fish. No processed meat for the most part. I can’t eat at a restaurant as there is no way to know what type of salt they are using in the foods they serve. Nothing with sea salt. It’s very fruit and veggie-based. I’m doing really good with it this time around but one of the reasons I’m doing good is that I have my home base to work from and have my safe food here.
I’ve found I love this…
Thankfully it’s portable and I’ll be bringing some with me as I travel. Yep, I have to pack anything I eat with me as I commute. That will keep me out of the fast food and convenience stores.
I’m so appreciative of the gift the blog reader sent to help cover hotel expenses…but for now, I plan on coming home. I am planning on taking an overnight bag, putting it in the car with enough food for a day, and if I’m tired or my mood changes, I’ll stay a night. The kids have all been helpful and have offered that they would come to get Rosie and take care of things if I change my mind and stay.
I have audiobooks downloaded and podcasts set. It will make the drive go easier.
My Sunday drive was great!! Here I am up and at ’em ready for the drive. The rash on my face is so much better. This is the best it’s looked in three weeks. I’m so thankful for the steroids…
I stopped for a bathroom break along the way and pulled into the parking ramp with perfect timing so I’d make my appointment. I could have parked on the first floor. but I went up a level so I could park next to the elevator.
I crossed the street through the subway like always. The elevator doors opened and the entire building was locked. Remember this was an 8 am Sunday appointment. UGH. What was I supposed to do??
I went down the hallway in a different direction only to find more locked doors. There I found an intercom to security. I explained that I had an appointment. The guard said that I was to go to the lobby and could access from there.
I turned around. I retraced my steps but was stumped on how to get to the lobby. There were no stairs. UGH. I ended up outside back at the ramp, crossed the street and the doors to the building were locked there too. UGH.
I went back across the street. I took the elevator back to that security button as that was the only “person” I could figure out who to ask. There was literally NO ONE around. UGH.
Now I was late.
I got to the security intercom and said again why I was there. The guy said, “Wait here. I will give you access through this door.”
The door opened. I got to the lobby. I did the screening. I got in the elevator, got to my check-in. This was the waiting room…
This was the reception desk. Oh no. Did I get the right spot?? Just then a nurse came around the corner and said, “Name and birthdate?”. I replied and she smiled. It was only me and her in the entire place. No activity down the halls. NOTHING. If you’ve ever been to Mayo Clinic, you know this is REALLY weird.
After chatting with her I found out she is an on-call nurse. She comes in when there is a treatment like mine. I was the only person who was coming in on this day. I felt so bad making her come in.
I tell you this as I want you to know, the protocol that I’m doing with all of this is not typical.
I was in and out in 10 minutes and headed back towards home. I was home by 10:30 am and had the day to be home and do my thing…so much better than being bored in a hotel room trying to cross stitch with bad lighting in an uncomfortable chair.
On Tuesday, I have extra doctor visits so Kelli and Kalissa are coming with me. Then we’ll have some extra ears along to listen to whatever is next.
I’ll know on Wednesday if they will be able to treat my cancer and if the 50% chance of it working went my way. I’m anxious to know. I’m a girl that loves a plan…no matter what the plan is. Plans make me more focused and comfortable.
A huge thanks to all of you who have traveled this path with me. As of your reading this, I’ve already been to Rochester back and forth twice. So far, so good. Many thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and kind wishes to both me and my family along the way.
Many thanks to those who have expressed concern about me driving, but truly, I’m totally happy to be doing it.
Like me, I know you too are anxious to hear how things go and I promise to keep letting you know when I know.