Today I learned more specifically the staging of the cancer and how radiation will progress in a couple weeks. I also had a nice conversation with my radiologist about cycling, too :). Anyway, this is what I learned today:
Stage of Cancer:
There are three categories they use to stage in thyroid cancer: (1) thyroid tumors, (2) lymph nodes and (3) metastasis (the spread of the cancer).
They were able to tell me the stage of (1) and (2), but since I only had scans and surgery on my neck, they don’t know how far it has spread to be able to mark a stage of metastasis.
(1) My tumors were papillary carcinoma–> Stage 2
(2) The expanse of the lymph nodes that were affected–> Stage 3
(3) Metastasis–> ?
Therefore, my condition is at least Stage 2 or 3, without the information of the metastasis. Because of this, my radiologist said that I will be receiving two-three times the dose of the average person receiving the same treatment.
Radiation and how it will work:
One function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormones that meet the body’s needs. In order to do this, the thyroid uses iodine. Essentially, fully functioning, the thyroid is the iodine center for the body. Now that I do not have a thyroid, the goal is to find all remaining thyroid tissue in my body that could have metastasized from the cancer. How? By killing any tissue containing iodine.
I will be doing “radioactive iodine ablation” treatment (RIA)–also called I-131 treatment. As many of you have read, I have been on a strict low-iodine diet for almost a week and will be until radiation. This is to starve my body of iodine so that the treatment is more successful and targets the potential cancerous tissue. I will be taking a pill of radioactive iodine, and the hope is to kill all remaining cancer.
What treatment looks like:
- October 11: I will get my blood drawn to see if my levels are where they need to be to start treatment.
- October 17: I will start the radiation. I will go to the hospital, they’ll give me a pill, and I’ll stay there for an hour or so to make sure I don’t have any serious reaction.
- Then, I will be quarantined for 8 days. During this time I will be confined to a bedroom and bathroom that no one else can use. I have to use separate plates and utensils and wash them separate from other household items.
- October 21: On the fifth day of being quarantined, I get to start my new thyroid medication and EAT NORMAL FOOD AGAIN! 😀
When I’m out of quarantine, I will get a full body scan to see what thyroid tissue activity is left in my body. Then, in six months, I will have another scan to see if I need a second treatment.
“The house of religious cards ‘that glory built’ collapses when we inevitably encounter unforeseen pain and suffering. When the economy tanks and you lose your job…When the waters rise and the levee breaks…[when you’re diagnosed with cancer]… Suddenly, the mask comes off, and the glory road reaches a dead end. We come to the end of ourselves, in other words, to our ruin, to our knees, to the place where if we are to find any help or comfort, it must come from somewhere outside of us. Much to our surprise, this is the precise place where the good news of the gospel–that God did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself–finally makes sense. It finally sounds good!”
Tullian Tchividjian, Glorious Ruin.