Sunday, September 23, 2012

"........streetlight people, living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the night.....some will win, some will lose. some were born to sing the blues. oh, the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on. ..don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling. " don't stop believing, by journey.g

i just returned from seeing my endocrinologist for  my six month cancer check up. i had the blood work done ( they tested for tsh, t4, t3- the usual stuff, but also for thyroglobulin and thyroglobulin antibiodies. ) i had the blood work done at the hospital where i have had both my full body scans, as well as  my I-131 treatment dose after my surgery two years ago. i also had the blood work for this test(above mentioned) done at this hospital last time. i have read that the same blood sample from the same patient taken at the same time( lots of sames here, but you get the idea) can vary two fold from one lab to the next! i wanted to be consistent.

however, my doctor was not so impressed with the lab. my blood work was a "little off" she said. the numbers looked pretty good, i guess, but she did not like the way that the lab did the testing. that puts me in a little bit of a limbo. i had less than 0.5 on the thyroglobulin, but i have thyroglobulin antibodies. that basically makes the test, well, a little questionable. if anyone out there is getting ready to have their surgery, I-131, etc, make SURE to get a baseline test for these. i did not- wish i had. that would give my doctor a better idea of what was going on with me.

for the next six month check up, my doctor has requested that i get the blood work done at her office. i will need to drive down the week before my ultrasound/ appointment, but if it means a better test it is fine with me. my doctor is 4 hours away, but her office  is in the same city that my daughter resides in, so i get to visit her and her husband twice this coming march. that is also fine with me.

i do have happy news to report: there are absolutely no goblins growing in my neck! yeah! i was a little worried when the ultrasound machine  kept beeping, but the technician assured me that everything was fine. i still get choked on certain foods- i can not eat bread and chicken together without sitting next to someone who is an expert on the Heimlich maneuver. i do not get choked as much as i did before my surgery,though. still, it is comforting to know that there is nothing extra in my neck.

one thing that i encourage people to do, and that actually came in handy for me, is to keep a record of all of your tests. when i went to my doctor's office, i took a copy of my labs with me. turns out, they had either not received  the fax that the hospital sent, or the fax gremlins gobbled up my test before i got there. anyway, it was good to be able to give them a copy so that i could have a more meaningful appointment. ( i also have yet another copy in my records at home. this comes in handy when comparing results from the past two years). another thing that i had done( my endo  forgot to order this, so i asked my family doctor) was a calcium test. i only have two parathyroids- i had cancer in the other two( they up and left for Paraguay, if you remember from an earlier blog of mine). a person can make out o.k. with one functioning parathyroid, but i wanted to be sure my two little guys were working hard for me. turns out, my calcium was indeed low and i have to supplement.good to know since i want strong bones for zumba.

so, overall, i had a pretty good checkup. i can not say that these six month check ups are not stressful, but i am glad that my doctor is keeping a watch on things in case something does pop up. in the meantime, i am good to go! as with every one of us, i will just enjoy my life and hope for the best.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy thyroid cancer awareness month to you, happy thyroid cancer awareness month to you, happy thyroid cancer awareness month to ( insert your name here, if this applies ;) happy thyroid cancer awareness month to you !

happy thyroid cancer awareness month, everyone! jeez, what a thing to celebrate. but, it is good that the public is becoming somewhat aware of the fastest growing cancer, to date. you can go to a more scientific website and find out the exact numbers, if you would like . thyroid cancer is not the" biggest in numbers" cancer, but it  is the fastest growing type. i wonder why? is it because people are beginning to " check our necks" or is it something more sinister( exposure to cancer causing agents in our food, the environment,etc?)

one endocrinologist that i went to, briefly, asked me " now, just how do you think that you got thyroid cancer?" i was puzzled on that one. she asked me if, when i was a child, did my parents like to take me down to the shoe store and have my foot x-rayed  for the proper shoe size? i told her no, i came from a small town that did not have anything fancier than an old metal shoe sizer that you stood on. i got my toes pinched a lot, though.after trying on my shoes,  i had to stand up and the sales person would mash down with all of their might to make sure i had room on the end of the shoe ( to grow) . somehow i do not think that this contributed to my getting thyroid cancer.

i know that there is a higher incidence of thyroid cancer for people who have been exposed to radiation from nuclear power plants. i have never been to one of those, nor do i live close to one. the manner in which the endocrinologist was asking me " just how did you get thyroid cancer" made me feel somehow responsible for my illness. did i mention that i went to this doctor briefly? this doctor was supposed to be a specialist in treating papillary thyroid cancer, and worked at a very large and well respected hospital. the doctor might have been conducting a study about " how i got thyroid cancer and lived to tell the story", i am not sure. i also am not sure why i got thyroid cancer. i do not feel responsible for my illness,though. it just happened. but here is another example of taking charge of your health care- i went to another doctor. ( one who has never asked me this question, by the way.)

i was fortunate enough to hear from another thyroid cancer survivor while i was working  this weekend. i call them my "peeps", and i always stop what i am doing at the pharmacy to come out and say hello and ask how they are doing. this was the first time that i had talked to this particular man. when he was diagnosed and being treated( about the same time as me, by the way), his wife came in to get his medicine. i talked to her briefly, but i was glad to finally meet the actual patient. he had a very interesting story to tell.

first of all, he had the same kind of thyroid cancer as me- papillary- and he was in the same stage as me. we are about the same age,too. he also lost two of his parathyroids to cancer, as well as several lymph nodes. he had his surgery at a major hospital, not the same place that i went,though. his scar looks great ( like mine does, i hope) and he told me that he is feeling pretty good now. the part of this that is very interesting is how he got his diagnosis.

one day he was outside in his front yard cutting limbs from a tree when one struck him right in the neck! it left a huge lump that did not go away, even after ice packs,etc. he decided to go to the doctor and have it checked out. he had an x-ray, ultrasound ,and finally a biopsy. he did not even know that he had thyroid disease, much less thyroid cancer. his wife told me that it was God saying, " hey, buddy, look here!". i am not sure, but i am sure that it is very fortunate that this "accident" happened and that he was able to get treated before it was too late.

bottom line, it is not important to try to find out why we have thyroid cancer. most of us will never know the answer to that question. what is important is to check our necks, follow up with any treatments that we may need, and do not hesitate to seek out a new doctor if we need one.we need to  be responsible about our health care. if we  feel uncomfortable about something, we need to  do research- read all that we  can from reputable sources. books, the internet( again, reputable sources) can be thing that i can not stress enough is to keep a file containing copies of all lab work and correspondence concerning our is hard to remember everything- all the tests, results, etc. sometimes even keeping these can help our doctors with our treatment.

so, happy thyroid cancer awareness month to everyone. and i hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the good things in life. to end with a quote from my late dad : " LET'S HAVE CAKE!!!"