As you can imagine, I was terrified for my doctor's appointment earlier today. The decision on how to proceed with treating me, after news that the tumour was cancerous, was his to make.
I stressed all week about this appointment. I tried not to, knowing it was out of my control, but I did anyway. I got myself so scared of another surgery and iodine radiation therapy that I was absolutely dreading talking to him. Either he would tell me I didn't need surgery and then I would spend my life worrying the cancer was coming back, or he would tell me I did need surgery and I would throw up on the spot at the thought of going through this again.
What really happened is that we talked. About all scenarios. We weighed the benefits and the risks. I cried and he was understanding. We talked about the kids and how much the surgery and recovery affected all of us. I asked lots of questions and he answered them all. In the end, an informed decision was made - one I cannot help but to accept.
No surgery for now.
It was unfortunately not a straight forward decision with no clear "right answer". More cancer might be there. But maybe not. The pathology said things like "questionable" "early" and "minimal" in reference to the cancer spreading outside of the thyroid tissue. While they can confirm they got the entire lump, they can't confirm that there aren't other cancerous cells lurking outside of my thyroid. The only way to know that for sure would be to remove the other half of my thyroid and to give me iodine radiation therapy to kill any of those cells.
But what if there's no more cancer? It's possible (probable?) that there isn't. Is it worth the associated risks of surgery, and all of the pain (not to mention hassle) it causes?
Like I said, no easy answer. If they take the other half of my thyroid that's risky. If they don't take it, it's risky too. But apparently the risk of leaving it for now is better than the risk of taking it all out. Research shows that some
Make sense? A lot of this risk vs. that risk - I know. A bit mind boggling.
So here's what's going to happen:
Remember how way back when, I said that having half my thyroid removed meant there was a 15% chance I'd need meds to regulate it? Well now that becomes 100%. Whether I "need" the drugs or not, the endocrinologist is putting me on them. If he can control where my thyroid levels are with medication, if they change, he will more easily know there's something wrong. So I go for my first set of bloodwork mid September, based on the results he prescribes my dosage, and then we do bloodwork every 6 months for several years, looking specifically for "tumour markers". If things remain as is (no obvious cancer) bloodwork drops to yearly - for life.
Secondly, I start routine ultrasounds on the same schedule as bloodwork - every 6 months for a few years and if all stays ok, yearly for life. With there being no lumps currently on my remaining half of a thyroid, obviously the presence of any new lump(s) needs to be taken seriously.
The combination of bloodwork and ultrasound "should" give an accurate picture of cancer returning. Of course nothing is 100% but it's the best course of action for now. We need to believe that if they stay on top of things, recurrence will be found and dealt with. Even if I need the other half removed at some point in the future, I don't need it removed now. Not while the kids are young. Not while we're all emotionally fragile. Not when we've been dealt about as much as we can handle. Sometime in the future. Hopefully long in the future. Or maybe if all goes well, NEVER.
So now I need to process this and try to come up with a way to not worry that the cancer is back, and spreading. I need to trust in my doctors and medical science and believe that, if God forbid it does spread, they will find it and fix it. I need to start THINKING POSITIVELY. I know I have an amazing surgeon and endocrinologist on my side. If both of them don't want to pursue surgery (the surgeon told me last week he wouldn't do it if the choice was his) I need to trust them. Of course I don't want another surgery, but obviously had they agreed that was the best choice, I wouldn't have argued. At the end of the appointment the doctor said he felt good after all we'd talked about - he stood behind his decision and thought we were definitely making the right call. That helped.
It is now time to heal. Both physically and mentally. Let all of this be done. Time for the T5 to move on to bigger and better things, with no more stumbling blocks. I'm tired. Tired of sadness and worry and stress. Ready for HAPPINESS. Oh and did I mention THINKING POSITIVELY?! Oh right, I did.
Thank you, as always, for your support, good wishes and prayers. Please direct them now to the bright and happy future that is coming our way. It's our time. It must be. For now, and hopefully for always, cancer and all of our other struggles, are behind us.
To finish out this lengthy post, let me share a quote. Many Canadians by now have read this, along with the rest of the amazing letter that preceded the words I'm sharing. I was incredibly saddened by the passing of Jack Layton, but also inspired by him, in life, and in death - by his hope for the greater good of our country and by his passion and courage - both political and personal. Reading these words this morning told me that things were going to be ok - no matter what:
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."
You said it Jack. Love. Hope. Optimism. Amen to that.