Tag Archive | thyroid

Check and Double Check

The trip to Philadelphia was for my 6-month check up. I had four appointments in all: 2 ultrasounds, 2 doctors. I’m grateful for my hubby, who sat in the lobby watching Star Wars movies on his iPad, since he was not allowed in with me to any appointments. He refuses to let me go alone, and he insists on doing all the driving.

My first appointment was for a repeat thyroid ultrasound. This is the third one I had. The first two were done locally but the PennMed docs reviewing those reports and films did not think they were done well, and there was no recommendation action in the report. Since I will be going to Penn every six months anyway, it made sense to just have them re-do it. It was certainly a much more thorough ultrasound, but my developed test anxiety had me nervous. The amount of time the doctor spent doing the test made me start to panic a bit, since my default assumption is always that something is wrong. I waited the longest (about a week) for these results. Everything was stable, but they did want me to start seeing an endocrinologist. I have an TeleMed appointment with a Penn doctor at the end of March. Part of me just wanted to find a local doctor for ease of visits, but the quality of care at Penn can’t be beat, so… Penn it is. For those of you wondering why thyroid… This was an “incidental finding” from a prior CT scan that they are required to follow up on.

Appointment number two was a chest ultrasound to continue monitoring the “lump” that we all believe to be a “surgical remnant” but want to monitor to be safe. Everything was stable/same, so that’s good.

Before my doctors’ appointments, I had my vitals taken and my meds/history reviewed. Apparently, my heart rate was higher than normal. I didn’t realize this until I got into my third appointment was with my oncologist. She said, “oh, I see you were tachycardic…” Really? Heart rate was 103. I have to believe it was an error or typo or something. I didn’t feel like my heart was racing or anything like that, so I’m not really worried. But hearing the word “tachycardic” was surprising.

Everything went well. She was happy with how I was doing, that I’m continuing to exercise, that I got my first covid shot (at her recommendation), and that my side effects from the meds were all manageable.

My last appointment was with my surgeon, who I haven’t seen in a year, due to the pandemic. She finally got to check out said “lump” and her thoughts are that it’s a suture. It isn’t the size, shape, etc. of a surgical clip, per her assessment, and it’s just something we’ll watch to be on the safe side.

I love all of my Penn doctors. They always spend a good amount of time with me, and they seem interested in me as a person. Am I still exercising every day? Am I still writing? How is that grandson of yours? I think it’s important to feel a connection with your physicians and I feel so comfortable and confident every time I go there. I could conceivably stop seeing them and stay local only, but I just feel so much better going there (in addition to my local doctors). I am getting checked and double checked.

I will return in August for a repeat of all the same appointments.

IMDb: Check and Double Check (1930)

Toxicity

As I continue to heal from my surgery, I was focused on the next step: radiation. I was so hesitant to do radiation the first time around (see my Silkwood post from 2013!). Radiation is this invisible scary thing to me, and I’ve heard about all sorts of side effects, like fatigue and crispy heart valves. But I agreed to it, with evidence that it was an important tool in lowering my recurrence risk.

Well, here we are, with said recurrence. So much for that! I thought that radiation was a once-and-done thing, because of lifetime limits. I was somewhat surprised that it was being considered for my treatment plan this time around and my fears resurfaced. I worried about the additional toxicity of this second round. What would it do to my internal organs and, specifically, my thyroid (which already has nodules and has to be checked out – non-urgently). I worried about what would happen if I used up my lifetime limits but needed it for something else in the future.

But, again, I was prepared to proceed based on the recommendations of my new team of doctors.

So imagine my surprise, and delight, to find out yesterday that my radiation oncologist is NOT recommending radiation! Woo hoo! He was very pleased with the pathology report and my clean margins. Like me, he didn’t think the benefit outweighed the risk of the additional toxicity to my body AND he agreed it was best saved for future use. We both hope and pray that it is never needed again, but it’s comforting to have options in my back pocket, given my history.

I am relieved and encouraged by this news.

I met with my local oncologist yesterday, as well. She spent a lot of time focusing on what she referred to “academics”, trying to determine if my latest cancer is a local recurrence or a new Stage 1A primary. She feels strongly it is the latter because the tumor was not in the scar, but rather in the residual breast tissue. In the end, the treatment plan doesn’t change either way, but she stated that my prognosis was better if it’s a new primary, rather than the recurrence.

So next steps: the above referenced thyroid check (ultrasound), an ultrasound of my uterus (based on prior CT scans and a thickening of the lining… also non-urgent), and a stop at the dermatologist. My oncologist saw a mole on my chest that she didn’t like the looks of and she wants it removed. I’m not terribly concerned, as I do go for regular full-body skin checks, but getting it checked/removed is prudent.

After all that, I will see my Penn oncologist and the genetics team on March 5th and I’ll start my endocrine therapy at that time. Healing continues to go well… a bit sore and tight, but no complaints.

 

IMDb: Toxicity (2019)

There’s No Place Like Home

It’s so nice to be home, for so many reasons!

The very first thing I did when I got home was shower!  Nothing like shampooed hair and washing off hospital smells to make you feel human again.  I was actually quite surprised that I was able to shower, as many of the discussion threads I have read online indicated that others were restricted to sponge-bathing for several weeks.  As all my bandages are covered in Tegaderm waterproof dressing, it was not a problem.

After that, I did take a two hour nap on the sofa and then visited with family.  Everyone seems pretty shocked that I am upright, walking, and not looking like total crap!  🙂  Mom made me homemade chicken noodle soup, with homemade noodles (life doesn’t get any better than that)!  Soup was topped off by warm chocolate chip cookies from my wonderful neighbors!

I ended my night with a soak in the tub… hot water (but not too hot), 3 cups of epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda.  As recommended by my naturalist, this is intended to draw out the radiation that my body has been exposed to this past month, and to keep my thyroid healthy.  Between airport security, chest x-ray, CT scan and my sentinel node test, I’ve had a bit of exposure.  If you want to try this yourself, she recommends 3-4 baths over a week after you have had exposure.  You should soak for about 20 minutes.

I’ve also resumed my green drinks (Nature’s Harvest by Nature’s Sunshine), blended with fruit, along with my supplements, all of which I actually missed.  I had to stop taking my supplements a week before my surgery.  Apparently, several supplements have been linked to increased bleeding during surgery, although I don’t think any of mine were.  Better safe than sorry, though.

I had a great night’s sleep in my own bed, although I pretty much still slept on my back.  A few times I tried to roll onto my side and then thought better of it.  This morning, I have a little bit of puffiness around the surgical site, but this is to be expected with the drains gone.  My body should reabsorb the fluid over time.  Worse case scenario, if it gets painful, my surgeon can aspirate any excess fluid at my next appointment.  So far no pain, but the puffiness does feel weird… a little bit like the pins and needles you get when you foot falls asleep, only in my former breasts.  Yep, weird is probably the right word!

My little guy comes home today after a weekend at his dad’s, so I’m looking forward to seeing him.  I’ve talked to him a few times since the surgery, and he seems fine about the whole thing.  I just need to be careful of his hugs, as his approach isn’t the most gentle!  Thanks to Ethan’s Dad for doing all the driving this weekend for pick up and return!  It was a huge help!

Enjoy your Labor Day, everyone!!