I appreciate all the prayers and comments that I received since my last post. So many of you shared in our disappointment and it means so much to know that we are not alone. And I have felt so much more at peace since I posted my Dear Cancer letter…certainly a work of all the prayers promised by you all!
Last week I called my surgeon to get his perspective on our next steps. He knows my neck well, having been pretty up close and personal with it. He was also the one who was so optimistic that I wouldn’t need anymore treatment – this was without knowing the tumor marker number, though.
We talked and he sounded just as bummed as we are about the tumor marker number not being lower. Knowing this, he recommends going through Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI). He said he came to this conclusion because he is worried that the remaining disease might be around my nerve that the third tumor was on. Surgically it would have been near impossible to get every single cancer cell off that nerve without doing nerve damage, so there might be some remnants there. And really, we would NOT want those cells to grow into a mass, because surgery then would be extremely difficult and possibly cause all those negative side effects from sympathetic nerve damage. RAI would be a reasonable treatment to hopefully knock out the microscopic disease left in my neck.
So, although this is the bad news, he said the good news is I can take Thyrogen injections to prepare for RAI, and I don’t have to go off my thyroid hormone. He said in cases like this, going off my thyroid hormone for an extended period of time would act like a growth hormone to my thyroid cancer that they know is in there, which wouldn’t be good. Being able to do the injections is good news because symptoms can be horrendous going without thyroid medication for extended periods of time.
I asked him what he would do if we go back in January and my tumor markers have gone down. He said he wouldn’t do anything then…he would watch and wait to see if they go down to undetectable on their own.
I can’t begin to describe how much better I felt after talking to him. Did he give us better news than what we had heard the week before? Not really. But I think what helped is understanding that the remaining disease might be on my nerve – and thinking about what cancer could do if it grew on my nerve is enough for me to face RAI much more definitively knowing that I would hopefully be preventing nerve damage. This to me out weighs the possible negative side effects of doing RAI.
But I still hope for my tumor markers to go down on their own – that would be the prayer I hope you all join me in praying. My next appointment is January 18 – we will know so much more then. Until then, everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I have so much to be thankful for – and I’m going to enjoy every second.
PS: My main computer is in the shop, so I’m typing on my old laptop – hence the old photos. There are some days I would love to go back to a time before cancer – but on the other hand, the perspective in which we view the world because of cancer is something that I am grateful for, too. Each day means a little more than it ever did before.