On day two of isolation, I’m finding that it’s really no big deal. I feel perfectly fine, just as before the treatment, as if nothing ever happened. I thought I would have some awful symptoms, but I’ve had none, nada, zip, zilch. Yippee!
I’ve been keeping myself busy doing some organizing and cleaning up. I have a nasty habit of changing purses and taking out only the things I want to put into the new purse, leaving all of the extra “stuff” in the old one and tucking it in the closet. Last evening and today, all of those purses came out of the closet and all of the “stuff” was gotten rid of. I did find a few goodies though…jewelry I’d forgotten about, lots of spare change, even a gift certificate. I’m making out like a bandit!
Actually, I think this radioactivity has put me into warp speed. I went on a vacuum cleaning binge—even vacuuming the laundry room and, get this, the furnace AND the oil burner! That big ‘ole noisy thing has accumulated an ungodly amount of dust on and around it…but no more. They will probably never get a cleaning like that again, as I’m counting on this treatment to work fully and completely.
The real bonus is that I no longer need to follow the low iodine diet. So, this morning, for the first time in 18 days, I had an egg, a slice of cheese, and a bagel. Later, Janina brought me a Starbuck’s Skinny Vanilla Latte. Yum! How did I ever live without that for the past 18 days?! The sky’s the limit for dinner, so what will it be?—pizza perhaps--a nice cheesy pizza. That way, Merril won’t have to cook.
I can come up from the basement at noon tomorrow. I can’t hug or kiss anyone for a few more days beyond that, and I will definitely have to avoid my gorgeous grandson. But by Wednesday, I can bust loose, so there will be hugs all around. Marrin, get ready for some big smooches from Gram! You too, Kyle, I owe you a birthday hug and kiss—and you can’t escape it big boy!
Now I’m ready for the ultimate reward…a nice hot bubble bath. After that, I’ll do some medical transcription.
This isolation thing is not so bad. I might be by myself, but I’ve never been alone.
Getting my radioactive iodine treatment today was totally uneventful. Kind of fun actually. The nuclear medicine department at the hospital was buzzing, having four patients getting similar treatment at the same time. The lovely gal next to me was suffering from Graves’ disease – an overactive thyroid. A smaller dose of radioactive iodine works for that as well. We wished each other luck and blessings, took our respective treatment, and were on our way.
Now, I’m in the comfort of my basement. My trusty laptop is keeping me company. Drinking water like crazy to flush the treatment out faster. I can hear the television going upstairs, the pitter patter of feet, and my family’s voices. Thank God the isolation part is short. I can come out into the world on Sunday which is, coincidentally, my baby boy’s birthday! Kyle will be 19 years old on the 21st, so we’ll have much to celebrate on that day.
Good news today! My younger sister, Grace, heard from the endocrinologist. Her thyroid nodule biopsy is benign! She’s been spared the family curse. I’m absolutely thrilled for her. She’s starting a new job in a week and fortunately doesn’t have to deal with the inconvenience (to say the least) of surgery. Congratulations Gracie! Your new employer is fortunate to have you – show ‘em what ya got!
In 5 days, my niece will have her surgery. It’s scheduled for 7 o’clock in the morning. She’ll be done and in Recovery by the time most people are just getting to work and/or waking up. We’re all praying for an uneventful operation and speedy recovery.
I think I’ll look for a good movie to watch and hopefully fall asleep. The sooner it’s tomorrow, the sooner I can be with my family again. At least I don’t have to worry about finding my way to the bathroom in the dark…with all of this radioactivity, I am my own nightlight.
I'm still coping with Xander's death. I listen to the same song over and over again: Keane's Bend and Break. It's a great song; the lyrics in the chorus are the ones I quoted in the letter to him in my previous entry. I think about him every day.
Mom is officially a hermit in our basement. Fun, right? I really wish I had been able to be with her, at least this morning before she got her radioactive iodine. It sucks, though. That's one of the really sucky things about thyroid cancer. The only treatment is RAI, and NO ONE can be around you. No comfort, no hugs, no kisses, no nothing. Just whispers of "I love yous" and "Get wells" over the phone or, in my mother's and sister's case, yelling down the steps. I hated being isolated, so I know exactly what my mother and sister have/had to deal with. I miss Mom already. :-(
I think I'm going to apply to a First Descents camp for this summer. It's a phenomenal camp for cancer fighters/survivors to meet lifelong friends and forget for just a while that they have cancer. I went to a First Descents event last night with two friends, and it was fantastic. I met some awesome cancer survivors and First Descents campers who told me about their trips and experiences. It was wonderful to hear their unique tales. I decided I want to have a story of my own to tell. I know my friend Beth will be proud of me when I apply!
My Aunt Rea had some good news, though. It actually is bittersweet; the bitter being that she was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. The sweet is that she does not have to have any radioactive iodine! Her endocrinologist and surgeon both agreed that her cancer stayed within the thyroid, and her nodule was so small that it really was not enough to convince them that she needed RAI. Fantastic! One less person infected by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toxic waste.
That's all for now, folks. The Cancer Family Saga continues. As always, blessings of love, happiness, and most importantly: health.
I had my two shots of Thyrogen--one on Wednesday and one on Thursday. It was a terrific way to start the day. Nothing like a shot in butt to get you going in the morning.
Now, it's my turn for radioactive iodine -- the next phase of treatment for thyroid cancer. In two hours, I will take a pill that will hopefully do its awesome task of ridding my body of stray thyroid cancer tissue and cells, wherever they be. Afterwards, I"ll need to go into hibernation for a few days, so I'll retreat to my basement with my laptop, cellphone, iPod, and a few good books.
Truth is, I am a little scared, but I just have to stop stalling and get on with it.
Recently, Dori lost a friend to cancer. I cried when I read her post. That’s the funny thing about cancer...you gain - and you lose. You gain the support of so many, as this blog has proven. So many people, some that we will probably never even meet, have rallied together through this blog to encourage us, pray with us, and lift our spirits. Unfortunately, some of those people are cancer victims as well. They have supported us with the same enthusiasm as the others, even though their time with us is short. It’s a tough loss, particularly with the young.
Dori has lost a friend, a fellow online gamer, someone to laugh with, and share stories about their commonality of cancer. As a mother, I think of the other mother and what she must be going through. How many tears she must have shed, nights that she couldn’t sleep, and prayers she must have offered up from the day of her child’s diagnosis until the moment of his death. It’s easy to say, “He’s in a better place”, but I’m sure that every mother can’t help but feel that the best place for her child is within her own arms.
I feel like real slacker for not having posted until now. I can’t believe that in just three days I’ll get my first Thyrogen shot; in four days I get my second shot, and in five days my radioactive iodine treatment. It’s been six weeks since my surgery. Where has all the time gone?! I think I’ve been in a low-iodine funk. I never realized how much I love iodine. I miss my dairy products and my salt. I miss things that I never even thought I liked. It’ll be difficult to keep from going hog wild when I get to go off the diet (this coming Saturday!), but I intend to use some restraint. All in all, the diet is not too horrible, and if it makes for a more successful treatment, then I’ll just have to shut my mouth.
Anna Marie is doing phenomenally well. Just a week status post surgery and she looks amazing. Her scar is healing ever so beautifully – I do believe she got the prettiest one of all.
Janina is fantastic, and pretty much back to her old self. She had her post-treatment nuclear scan on Friday and should get the results this week.
In eight days, my niece will have her surgery. Janina plans to stay with her in the hospital.
We are so lucky to have each other to lean on...another thing that we’ve gained.
Wow, I'm amazed I've been able to get to 30 posts. :-) Thank you to everyone for reading!
I am sorry, all, for the lack of updates. I have had a very rough couple of weeks. It has gotten very busy with student teaching, and a lot has happened lately.
Last Friday, my aunt had her surgery. She looks great! I got to see her yesterday when she stopped by to see us. Her scar looks so good! Our surgeon never ceases to amaze me. He is a magician. Since her biopsies never gave us a definitive diagnosis, her thyroid had to be sent to pathology. She doesn't get the results until her appointment on Wednesday, which I find to be ridiculous. If you get the results, why not call up your patient? In my opinion, the wait stinks. Why make people suffer more? I think the wait is worse than the results, honestly. So, we won't be finding out those results until the 17th. Ugh.
Janina's doing great. Her treatment went well, and she had her nuclear scan on Friday. Let's just hope treatment kills all of it. We won't know until 6 months from now, I think.
Mom's still suffering from the low-iodine diet. I'll be getting her some Dunkin Donuts when she's done with all this. :-) Her treatment is near the end of this week. Let's hope this one works, too!
On Sunday the 7th, I received some bad news. I met a man named Xander on Planet Cancer around when I joined, near New Year's. He was 18 years old and was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. We talked a lot and became friends. He was very strong yet sensitive. He did not like to talk about his cancer battle, but when he did, he was so emotional and had a difficult time discussing it. Xander loved his family, and told me he hated hurting them. He was so selfless. Xander fought so hard to live and be a normal young man. We would play games online and have fun talking to each other about anything and everything. I had no idea how little time I had with him. The last I knew, he was going home and receiving chemo by mouth with a nurse. From what I understood, this was it for him. Xander never revealed how he was feeling to me, except closer to the end. He died the morning of February 6, 2010. His brother, Mike, gave me the news the next day, when he was signed in to Xander's MSN account.
I haven't cried until just now. I was close to tears a lot of this week, but it hadn't hit me yet. Reliving the times we spent talking, the late nights we would chat about anything that came to mind, it's painful. I never met him. He lived in Australia. I was planning on visiting him one day. I can only imagine that trip now. He was so young.
I miss you so much. It pains me that I never got to meet you and spend time with you. You were so precious to me, and I never dreamed that our time was so brief. I'll never forget every single conversation, every single time we laughed together about silly, trivial things. I wish I had known...I wish I had been there. I would have held your hand, helped you forget. It's so hard to go each day and not see you sign online, so that I can talk to you. The last time I talked to you was on February 3. It was a weekday, so I was running out the door to go teach. If I had known that was the last day we would ever speak again, I would have woken up earlier to talk to you longer. I remember when you tried to stop us from being friends. You knew your time was short, and I didn't want to think about it. I didn't care. I wanted to be your friend for as long as you would be alive. Thank God you decided to keep talking. Xander, I promised you I would be there for you no matter what happened. I still am, and I always will be.
I miss milk…and I hate snow. The only thing they have in common is that they are white. But for me they represent much more.
In preparation for my radioactive iodine treatment on the 19th, I am following a low-iodine diet. I can’t have any dairy products…a real bummer. Milk and cheese are my friends. Who knew they contained iodine? No egg yolks, canned food, most breads, processed food, fast food, salt, and a host of other “staples”. Oddly, I can have sugar until my heart’s content – no iodine in that. I’m pretty much subsisting on fresh veggies, meats, natural peanut butter, no-sodium bread, whole grain pasta, nuts, and fresh and dried fruit. With any luck, I’ll lose a few pounds, but I’m not holding out any hope for that. I’m not complaining – I am eating well, and more of the things that I should.
With 30 inches of snow on the ground and nowhere to go, I did attempt a low-iodine recipe for chocolate cake. Didn’t turn out so great, so I smeared peanut butter on top and enjoyed it anyway. Peanut butter has a way of making everything taste better – well, some things anyway.
Janina came out of the basement today, so we’ll probably have six more weeks of winter. And to my thinking—who cares—my daughter has successfully come through another phase of her cancer treatment, so all is right with the world.
Yesterday, Anna Marie had her thyroidectomy. While most people are “regulars” at a local pub, restaurant, or exercise facility, we’ve become “regulars” at the hospital – not exactly the place where you want to be a “regular”. As I expected, my sister came through her procedure like a champ. I am feeling a bit guilty though, thinking I may have underplayed the postoperative part as not to scare her. You do feel a bit like road-kill following, but each day brings more healing, so I keep reminding her of that.
In 11 days, I get my long-awaited first shot in the butt. The anticipation is overwhelming. Such a nice present. Who said Christmas was over?
Janina's been here since Thursday. She got her radioactive iodine dose Thursday afternoon, and was hibernating in our basement until today. Finally, she came out of her hole and is currently spending some time with us. :) It's really nice living with her, if only for this small bit of time. I haven't lived with her since I was a baby and she was living with me, Mom, and Dad (Kyle was not even a thought yet) in an apartment. I just wish I could be closer to her than 4-6 feet away.
She'll be able to go home on Tuesday, I think. That is, if the weather clears. The snow is up to my waist!
Aunt Rea's doing wonderfully! She had her surgery yesterday, and all went well. They removed her whole thyroid and sent it to pathology. Hopefully things come out positive. If not, OY. Her daughter is scheduled for surgery on the 23rd. One of the other daughters came out fine, but the third is still working with her doctor. Her doctor is saying that he wants to look at all of our pathology reports before deciding on a biopsy. My response? WHY?! It's obvious that this crap runs in our family, so why not just do the biopsy? Her nodule is small, but if anything, at least attempt a biopsy. Don't play cat and mouse. Just get it done. Give us some peace of mind instead of even more stress.
So far, all is going fine besides all of the above. I'm student teaching now, and it is going really well so far. I'm very excited to be graduating and starting my career. I just need to survive the next few months, then I'm home free!
That's pretty much it for now. Keep in touch, everyone. It's been lovely knowing we have so much support. If any of you have any questions or need some encouragement or support, feel free to comment me or my mother. We'd love to hear from you.
Much love, prayers, and, most importantly, good health.
Just got the word that Janina’s TSH is 38…which means that she’s more than ready for her radioactive iodine treatment. Poor thing has no thyroid and no thyroid replacement hormone which has resulted in major hypothyroidism. For most, this equates to a feeling of “looking up to the curb”. However, Janina has remained her cheery, helpful self, so it’s been hard to tell how bad she really must be feeling. Her voice has become much deeper and hoarse, somewhat reminiscent of a scene from the Exorcist, minus the attitude.
At any rate, in a final attempt to eradicate any and all stray thyroid cancer tissue and cells, she’ll take a whopping dose of radioactive iodine on Thursday and camp out in my basement for a few days to “deactivate”. It won’t be all that bad as we refinished the lower level a few years back. There’s a comfy bedroom (with an amazing pillowtop mattress), sitting area complete with two recliners, flat screen television, Wii game system, DVD and VSH players, bathroom with jet tub, and compact refrigerator. Not too shabby. She’ll be comfortable and safe surrounded by family – albeit a floor away. After 48 hours of hibernation, she’ll be allowed to circulate through the house, keeping a safe distance from others for a few more days. The worst part for Janina will be that she won’t be able to see or hold Marrin for five days. That was almost a deal-breaker for her; but like she always says, “ya gotta do what ya gotta do”. And so she will.
I’m still hanging around waiting for a call from my endocrinologist that my thyroglobulin shots are in. Two shots in the rear on two consecutive days and then radioactive iodine on the third. I get injections in exchange for having to go through thyroid hormone withdrawal. Not a bad deal. I don’t remember when I last had a shot in the butt…should be interesting.
Three days until Anna Marie’s surgery. I’m confident that she will have a perfectly uneventful procedure and recovery. I told her that I’ll bring my PJ’s to the hospital and we’ll pretend it’s a sleepover, except that she’ll be doing most of the sleeping. I’m hoping that all of our readers will keep yet another family member in their thoughts/prayers on Friday.
Like Daughter, Like Mother: Our Thyroid Cancer Journey
Behind the Blog
Adelina is a full-time wife, mother, practice manager, and medical transcriptionist. After receiving an ultrasound and countless biopsies, she was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer on December 11, 2009. She successfully underwent surgery on December 29, 2009, and had her first radioactive iodine treatment in February 2010. Following treatment, Adelina now sees her doctor once a year for follow-up. She has been doing well, and refuses to let cancer slow her down.
Dori is 26 years old. She was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer at the age of 17 on June 1, 2006, just three days prior to her high school graduation. Dori endured two radioactive iodine treatments and two surgeries to remove her complete thyroid and 39 total lymph nodes from her neck. She is now under close watch by her doctors, and only time will tell if the cancer stays at bay.