Monday, July 5, 2010

Zen and radioactive Iodine I-131

this weekend my daughter and i were sitting out on my front porch admiring nature,when we heard the most beautiful bird song. she asked me what kind of bird i thought was singing such a beautiful song. i pointed to a rather non-descript sparrow. i told her that " the most homely sparrows sometimes sing the most beautiful songs" she told me i sounded like the Dalai Lama! while i appreciated the comment, it is just something that i have noticed about nature in general. sometimes mother nature levels out the playing field, so to speak.

she also asked me about TSH, specifically why i needed a high reading before my treatment/scan. i told her that the way i understand it, TSH stimulates thyroid cells to make T-4 ( the main thyroid hormone) . i am not supposed to have any more thyroid cells, unless some of them have gone rogue, and escaped my surgeon's capable knife... my endo told me that no matter how brilliant the surgeon, some cancer cells would still be in my neck( lets hope that is the only place!). that is why i need the I-131. so, the high TSH " wakes up" the cancer(probably) thyroid cells, who shout out their location. then, the I-131 swoops down on them ( i like to think of the I-131 as a jedi knight, complete with a light saber) and destroys them.our   thyroid cells are very sensitive to iodine. the reason for the low iodine diet before our scans it so our thirsty little thyroid cancer cells will jump at the chance to take in the I-131.this is really remarkable science i think. i am not sure what scientist or group of scientists thought this treatment up, but it makes thyroid cancer easier to treat.


  1. Hello, Bea! I found your blog and have been reading along.

    I went through the same thing you're now experiencing in '08-'09, but evidently,still not done. Recently had a year after neck ultrasound and spots were seen on neck lymph nodes. I have a FNA(biopsy) on those neck lymph nodes Friday. Thought I was done with my last clean full body scan last August!

    I don't want to be negative,and hope I don't come across that way, but my experience,once the thyroid gland was gone, my body and brain have never been the same. The RAI treatment itself didn't bother me,at the time of treatment.I've noticed many thyca patients saying the same thing on various blogs and forums. I had no idea until I was going through it how messed up I would feel a year out! I just get tired of doctors saying "oh, you'll be fine, this surgery & RAI will take care of everything...thyroid cancer is the easiest to cure" That may be true about the cure rate of that particular cancer but the reality is, things are not fine. I'm also a Type 1 diabetic on an insulin pump. I'll have to say the past 2 years with this thyca stuff has been way harder than my 13 years as a T1 diabetic, and it's had it's moments!

    Bea, just be prepared for the ups and downs of the thyca roller coaster. Things are not all fine and dandy after the final clean body scan. I really wish doctors would be more up front about that. I don't mean to come across as callous or negative in any way, but I do wish the medical profession would be more open about what patients face with thyroid cancer treatments and more importantly, living life afterward as the body tries to adjust to total synthetic thyroid hormone treatment.

    Each person's journey with this stuff is different, yet also very similar. I wish you well in your upcoming journey. Be prepared for the bumps along the way and maybe your journey won't be along such a bumpy road as mine has felt!
    Take care!

  2. "wow" to that last comment...ummmm...anyway, Mom, I was just gonna say that I enjoyed being the source of your material for your blog today :) and I liked how you broke down the whole radioactive iodine treatment into easy-to-understand info, complete with a Star Wars analogy!

  3. I loved that description, haha! (especially the Jedi knight part!) Everyone's journey IS different like the first comment, but I truly am glad I had Thyroid cancer because it made be a stronger, better person even through the hard times. To tell you the truth I would rather struggle and be a better person, and see life clearly, than be comfortable, and not learn anything. I think you, too, will come out of this a better person!

  4. well, everyone has their own story to tell. i know that thyroid cancer/treatment is not as easy as some people want us to believe. and i have already said, i do not like it when people say, " oh, you have the good cancer". leslie, i think that your being a type one diabetic, made things even more difficult for you. i hope your biopsy turns out well. my surgeon first thought that my cancer had spread to my neck, and i did not know until i woke up from surgery if he had removed my neck lymph nodes. i also did not know until ten days after the surgery if my biopsy on those was negative- luckily it was. i will keep you in my thoughts and say a prayer for you. good luck!!

  5. Good luck with the treatment----be sure to watch the weight gain----I never have figured out why I sometimes gain ten pounds overnight- I was a naturally thin person--now the weight constantly goes up and down depending on where my levels are--you are not the same with the replacement hormone----I have never known anyone like me to share advice with...