Prior to my appointment, I had the requisite labs drawn and I also was able to have my ultrasound in advance. I've been pushing for this for awhile because it streamlines the entire process to be able to discuss the ultrasound results at the appointment instead of trying to do it via email after the fact. I was able to see my blood work results via MyChart before the appointment and the results were great. I went into the appointment thinking that everything was going to be fine because the blood work was so encouraging, and that was a mistake. The radiologist found an "abnormal lymph node." All we can say about it at this point is that it is not the largest node identified on the scan, but it does have a lower fat content than the other nodes.
The next step is to do another Whole Body Scan (WBS). I will have two Thyrogen injections next Monday and Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, I will take a low-dose radioactive iodine pill. The Thyrogen will artificially elevate my TSH, which is important for efficient uptake of the radioactive iodine by any thyroid cancer that might be in my body. On Friday, I will have my WBS and repeat my tumor marker blood work.
If the scan is negative, I get to go on my merry way for another six months until my next endocrinology appointment. If it is positive, we will do another PET/CT to confirm the WBS results. The PET/CT measures metabolic activity and will "light up" in any regions where cancer is present because cancer cells have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells. If the PET/CT is positive too, then I will need to prepare for another ablative (i.e. very high) dose of radioactive iodine, and that involves going off my medicine and spending some time in isolation while the radioactivity decays. We'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it. It's a solid plan, and that helps me cope.
When I received this news, I immediately reached out to my amazing support system. I really could not ask for a better group of friends and family. Most people I told reacted in a stunningly supportive fashion. I am so very grateful to have all of you in my life. It does make me wonder if my overwhelming desire to gather my friends and family close to me during this difficult time is a selfish act.
Is it fair of me to share this burden with others when it is not theirs to bear???
I often think about what my future will be like. A year ago I would have had a hard time doing this because I didn't have a very positive outlook. Now, since discovering Mark's Daily Apple and making a big lifestyle change, it's fun to think about what things will be like in 5 or 10 years. I get excited about what is to come instead of constantly worrying about how I feel now or how I will feel in the future. I have influenced my day to day life in a positive way and that gives me hope.
It is difficult for me to maintain my sunny outlook when these test results smack me across the face and force me to acknowledge all of the other possible ways my future could look. What if my cancer has come back? How many surgeries will I have in my lifetime? How many RAI treatments? How many months out of every year will I have to be off my Synthroid and therefore non-functional? It's during these times that I reach out to my friends and family--and holy crap do they reach back. I realize just how much I need them and it is completely overwhelming to me. I don't know how I would get through this without the support system I have--and does that make me selfish or sane? I'm really hoping for sane.
Until next time, check your neck.