Saturday, May 7, 2011
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Hello my lovelies,
Yesterday I had a consult with an oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I loved the hospital, the staff, and the doctor! Everyone was so caring and compassionate, they have a great facility (with quite a view of Lake Union) and my doctor was very thorough and spent probably about an hour going over everything with me. Most doctors these days seem so rushed (and I know the Virginia Mason system strives to be efficient, which equals rushed), but Dr. Mankoff was in no hurry and kept asking if I had any questions.
Here's the plan: I am going to transfer care there. Even though my insurance covers at a lower rate, I think that quality care is most definitely worth the extra cost. They want to give me the highest dose of RAI, and this will be an inpatient procedure. I have to be in isolation in a room with lead walls and visitors must talk to me through a glass window (sounds like prison!). Anything I touch has to be disposed of when I'm discharged, so I can't wear my own clothes or bring my laptop or cell phone. I will be there for 2 to 4 days. I'll be at the UW hospital if you want to come visit me in prison! This has to be at least two months after my last CT with contrast, as the contrast iodine has to be out of my system so that my cancer cells will take up the radioactive iodine. It looks like it will probably be around June 8.
Before I do the RAI I have to be off of Levoxyl (my thyroid hormone medication) for at least 4 weeks so that my TSH level gets above 30!! Dr. Mankoff warned me that besides feeling like a slug, I will also quickly gain a lot of water weight and my face will look like someone tied a very tight noose around my neck. Oh boy, can't wait :) No one is allowed to come near me with a camera! The RAI side effects include nausea, but fortunately they have good meds to offer me for that. The salivary glands also take up iodine, so they usually swell and cause pain and difficulty swallowing and dry mouth. Good thing I like lemon drops. Some patients continue to suffer from dry mouth for the rest of their lives. Other risks include leukemia, but the risk is only 0.2 - 0.3% per ten years, so unless I live to 500 it isn't a very significant risk. (Someone forgot to tell him that I do plan to live past 500!)
After my RAI, he does recommend external radiation. I will have a consult with a radiation oncologist and I'm not making any decisions yet on whether or not I will do that. I'm going to focus on one thing at a time, and right now it's vacation that I'm leaving for on Friday! Dreaming of Atlantic beaches, dozing in the sunshine, and devouring book after book.
Happy Mothers Day to the most fabulous mom in the world (mine!), and to all of you other mommies. You have my utmost adoration!
Rosey (that's for you, mommybrat)