Friday, April 22, 2016

the results blog.....

not a very original title for a blog, but here goes! i saw my endocrinologist yesterday afternoon and got my six month test results. i was hoping that she would let me go to once yearly testing , but she is not ready to do that yet. as i have said before, i had an aggressive type of thyroid cancer, and the beasties in my neck are prone to return when you least expect it. i asked my doctor one time if, like some other cancers, thyroid cancer had a five year "expiration" date . she said unfortunately no, i will have to be tested for the rest of my life . my doctor had one patient who had a recurrence after seven years. when people say that thyroid cancer is the" good "cancer, they forget the forever testing and the fact that patients have to take a thyroid replacement hormone for the rest of their lives. it is hard to determine a good dose of thyroid replacement hormone - one that will not make the patient feel terrible, yet one that will be effective. i thought that my dose might be too low, but i was mistaken.

my labs were good- no measurable thyroglobulin. that is the one test  that all thyroid cancer patients hold their breaths on. my thyroglobulin levels were measurable and i had antibodies (also bad) for about three years. then one day..... poof, they were gone. did it take the RAI treatment that long to work? did my immune system finally tell those sarah palin, aka rogue thyroid cancer cells, to pack their bags and leave? who knows, but that certainly was a day to celebrate!

as i said earlier, my TSH and T4 levels indicated that my thyroid replacement dose needed to be reduced, not increased. i have been struggling with fatigue lately, so i was sort of hoping that i just needed an adjustment up  in my dose to feel better. my doctor and i  negotiated a deal- one of the many reasons i love her- and i am to take a half tablet once a week. this  does not sound like much, but it may be enough to get my TSH up and my T4 down  enough to satisfy everyone. one of the many troublesome things about having  an extremely  low  TSH, with the resulting high T4  can do is to precipitate osteoporosis. this is especially important  since i am on an estrogen blocking medication that can also increase the risk of osteoporosis. my next testing is in october so hopefully things will settle out enough  to please everyone.

my bone density test actually  showed improvement  since last time. my doctor was flummoxed as to why this was. she kept staring at my results. my doctor's expression sort of reminded me of  how i look when i am searching for something at the grocery store, and they are out. i just keep staring for a few minutes as if that will cause the product to magically appear. my doctor thinks that maybe i have not been taking the arimidex long enough for the drug to negatively affect my bone density. i think that the fact that i take a pretty large prescription dose of vitamin D ,and have  increased my dairy food  consumption( calcium  in foods is  better absorbed by the body as compared to supplements , and less likely to cause kidney stones), has been helpful.  i  have also added more exercise to my routine. i believe that the combination of these things might explain the improvement.

so one cancer out of the way for a while! if i can get through my CAT scan next month, i should be worry free( i hope) until october. then we begin again.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

you know that feeling you had in school when you had an important test coming up and you felt that had not studied enough???.........

this week and next are test weeks for me. i only had one thyroid cancer testing session last year, due to the whole breast cancer issue. for the past five years, i have endured twice yearly testing- ultrasounds, blood work, and new this year, bone density tests. i get about as nervous as a caged tiger at the zoo when these tests are coming up. you might think that after five years i would be a pro, and it would not bother me. i was slowly getting there, but the fact that i had breast cancer a few months ago sort of set me back, you might say.

it would be nice if i could find some way to deal with this "scan anxiety" as i have heard it referred to. one good thing about my thyroid cancer  testing is that i get to visit my daughter and her family who happen to live four hours away. my endocrinologist's office is in the same city , so it is a kind of reward for me. i try to focus on the joy of seeing my daughter, grandson, and son in law. that does help a lot, but the bottom line is, when it comes to test day, it is me alone in that room. well, the ultrasound technician is there- looking for goblins in my neck. but of course she is just doing her job.

as i mentioned, the bone density test is new this year. i have had two in the past- five years apart- due to the fact that thyroid medication can cause osteoporosis. so far this year, i have had two bone density tests. the estrogen blocking medication that i take to hopefully prevent a breast cancer recurrence  also causes osteoporosis. i take a prescription dose of vitamin d to hopefully help my bones. i can not take calcium because i  had a  kidney stone last year which was probably, at least partly, caused by the calcium supplement that i was taking. calcium from dairy foods and a few other sources  are best- they are absorbed better by the body. i try to include enough of them in my diet, but not too much. my cholesterol has been good so far, but dairy foods can certainly affect your cholesterol.

another thing that helps prevent osteoporosis, is weight bearing exercise. i am walking now, fairly often, and i have re-joined a wellness center. i am hoping that adding some more exercise will help,too. no, i have not been able to return to zumba yet! i will probably have to have my knee fixed before i can go back to zumba classes. but  i am tired of doctors, no offense, and surgery at the present time, so shaking my booty, as i loved doing, will just have to wait a while longer. i did buy a tai chi DVD. so far, the DVD and i have just had a staring contest( it is sitting near my TV). to paraphrase a john prine song, " the DVD tried to stare me down, and won"- for now that is!

so i have the big reveal show with my endocrinologist next week. i get another chance to visit with my daughter and her family. that is the good news. i hope there will be more good news when i get my test results from my doctor. i feel like i should have done more, somehow. test anxiety, i guess.

of course, i also have a CAT scan with contrast dye scheduled for next month with my oncologist. this is to check to see if my breast cancer has spread to my lungs or bones. i think that i will plan on visiting my son, daughter in law, grandson, and granddaughter after this test. they live near my oncologist. spending a little time with them is another good thing for me to  look forward to.

so my overall plan is to focus on the good things in my life, and let the chips, or in this case, tests, fall where they may.