It has been a long time since I’ve updated this, but it always seems like the best way to get news out about my latest health news.
Today, we had an appointment with my cancer doctors to see what things are looking like. I had my blood work taken a week ago and had received the results going into the appointment. My tumor markers had gone down! They check the level of thyroglobulin to measure cancer activity, and my level had gone from 1.5 to 1.3. This means that the cancer is stable and not growing. This is great news.
I also always get a neck ultrasound done to see how things look in my neck. The ultrasound revealed some not so great news. The problem areas that had been there three months ago were still there, and some were slightly larger. The biggest issue with these “hot spots” is that there is blood flow. This means that the hope that these ares of thyroid cancer would die on their own is pretty unlikely since there is a source of nutrients feeding these cancer cells.
Putting these pieces to together are difficult. On the one hand my tumor markers are stable, which means that in three months there hasn’t been significant cancer growth. But, the ultrasound does show three specific areas that are cancerous – two lymph nodes and tissue in my thyroid bed area around my trachea. Also, these areas are detectable upon a physical examination of my neck.
Typically if an area is large enough to be felt and seen on an ultrasound, it means surgery. But, since this would be my fourth surgery, it gets complicated. My endocrinologist sort of left the decision up to the surgeon to see if he thought he would be able to operate successfully to remove these areas. My endocrinologist was okay with waiting a few more months to see what happens, but ultimately wanted us to consult with the surgeon.
So, on we went to the surgeon. He did say it would be fairly easy to remove the two lymph nodes without too much trouble. It would be a new incision on my neck (as if I already didn’t look tough with one big scar..I would have two!). But the cancer in my thyroid bed area would be very difficult to get at since that is the area that has already been operated on three times, and this area includes my vocal chords and parathyroids.
He did say since my case isn’t quite so black and white anymore, he wants to take my case in front of UNMC’s Tumor Board, where doctors come together and collaborate to see what the best solution is. Although surgery seems like the best option, there are other alternatives such as traditional radiation therapy (external beam radiation), or a newer technique of alcohol ablation.
But there’s also the choice of to wait and do nothing for right now. Since there weren’t significant changes in the cancer activity in three months, my doctors do feel it’s completely safe to wait another three months and see what things look like then. If it’s the same or worse, it will mostly likely mean surgery (or maybe one of the other radiation techniques I mentioned). If things look better in three months, well maybe the cancer is dying on its own, which we’ve been hoping for all along.
Although this post seems rather jumbled, the bottom line is we need prayers! Neel and I feel so strongly that we do not want to face another surgery. The risks of operating in the same area for a FOURTH time are just something we don’t want to deal with, so we are praying that my body is able to fight the cancer.
Thursday will mark two years since Neel and I started on this cancer journey. It has taken us places we never imagined to be as a young couple, but we are still thankful we do get to experience this. Although I would like to be completely cured, and I know one day I will, today was just another reminder of how precious life is and how much God wants us to focus on what is most important – to love Him and to love each other.
So please continue to pray for healing for me… The biggest blessing is that I actually feel fine. Mentally this is all very hard, but physically I feel fine. I know God has a happy ending in store…and we are just trying to be patient and live each day the best we can.
And you can bet there is going to be one heck of a party when we do finally get the cancer free report 🙂
Thank you to everyone for the support! Please pray, pray, pray…
Ang and Neel