Stage of Cancer and Radiation Treatment

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! 😀

Follow up:

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.

7 thoughts on “Stage of Cancer and Radiation Treatment

  1. Tina Robson says:

    The radioactive iodine ablation (RIA) is a scary thought, but you will be fine, I had mine done in October 2010. Drink loads of water to eliminate the free iodine 131, have a few showers to wash it off your skin and flush the toilet twice I was told. After 48 hours my levels dropped to safe levels to be around adults (they pointed a hand held geiger counter at me) and I stayed away at relatives home for another 24 hours away from my two little girls.

    I know it is really common for this type cancer to spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, but your prognosis is still very good.

    I live in the UK, so some of how my doctors go about things might be a bit different to the US.

    But good luck and ask me anything x

  2. illbedifferent says:

    Your strength brings me to tears. I am so thankful for a God that gives you that supernatural strength. I am praying with you and so many others through this. Venture family for life. Remember: if what we are fighting for can be accomplished without prayer then we are really fighting for nothing. Lifting you up.

  3. eecraven says:

    That is the exact stage my cancer was in as well. Fortunately, my scans did not show any indication of further spread. I hope that’s the case for you as well. Good luck with the treatment- make sure to get lots of movies or books.. you will get bored very quickly! haha

  4. David and Joy says:

    Lydia, your attitude and information are amazing. I think it’s great to be fully informed about your situation and its treatment. We continue to pray for you and now for your cousin Molly as well! Trust that in your radioactive state you will not glow in the dark.

    U David and A Joy

  5. Pamela Frost says:

    Hi my sweet, dear, special friend. Your courage and positive attituide are amazing! Charlie and I love you dearly. We are praying for you and so are a lot of our friends who met you at our wedding. You are a precious young lady and will come out on top of this stage in your life.. As the Bible says, ” And too shall pass”. May God bless you and keep you in in arms. Much love, Pam

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