Today I met with my endocrinologist to discuss the results of my first tests done since radiation (neck ultrasound and blood work). The goal was to see if the radiation I was given after my full thyroidectomy and radical neck dissection surgery had taken care of anything remaining.
Unfortunately, not only does it appear radiation did not take care of everything, there is increased soft tissue density in comparison to the scans taken when I was unexpectedly hospitalized a few weeks after radiation. As a result, it is likely I will have to undergo another surgery sometime in the next couple months. While it cannot be confirmed right now, my doctor said he would be very surprised if the tissue was benign, because:
- The tissue has increased
- I had about 3x the amount of radiation the normal patient receives, and if there was any remaining loose tissue that was not cancerous, it should’ve all been killed off by the level of dose
- I have high thyroglobulin levels, which is considered a “tumor marker.” If everything was gone, they would expect the level to be less than 0.1–my level is 4.2.
- There was one mass they were able to measure as 1.3 x 0.7 x 1.1 cm (which is pretty large, especially in the tight muscle grouping in the neck), and several smaller masses.
So what now?
- March 7: Another ultrasound to see what kind of change there has been since the last scan (about 3.5 weeks will have gone by).
- March 13-22: My dad and I go to ITALY! He has business for only three of the days and the rest of the time we will be able to spend together exploring. We might even go on a day or two trip to Greece while we’re there! I couldn’t be more excited for the time away. Growing up, whenever we went out as a family we’d say we’re going to “party like a bunch of Norwegians:” 🙂
- April 2: Needle biopsy of all the masses they are most concerned about after the ultrasound
- End of April/Beginning of May, surgery?
The good news is, we are very close to the right dosage of thyroid medication! We are hardly a fraction away, and because I’m awesome, I don’t even take a dosage that they manufacture now. I take one pill everyday and once a week I take one and a half pills. Because it is a long-acting drug which accumulates over time, I’m able to do this. Science is fascinating, isn’t it?!
It seems like such a prolonged timeline. It’s hard to believe because of my endocrinologist’s availability, It’ll be over a month until the biopsy. I’m trusting nothing drastic will happen between now and then–we’ll see. I really shouldn’t be complaining, it is such a privilege to have access to these kinds of tests and facilities. It’s humbling.
If I have surgery, they will follow up with another scan three months later to see if I need radiation or if I’m clear…this will once again be around the time I am supposed to start law school. I am PRAYING this doesn’t come full-circle. It would be disheartening to begin another year and have to pull-out again for medical reasons. We’ll cross that bridge later, I have scholarship applications to finish 😉
Overall, I am doing very well with this less-than-pleasant news. I’m at peace and calm. Right now, the main concern I really have is if surgery will interfere with the Indianapolis mini-marathon I plan to run on May 4. 🙂
There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”