Okay! So the good news is, there don't appear to be any metastasis beyond my neck! The poorly differentiated cells do not take up iodine as well, so it's possible that some didn't show up, and no scan is able to detect microscopic disease, but that spot on my lung didn't glow so this is great.
The bad news is my neck looked a lot worse than expected. This means there are some positive lymph nodes that were missed during the surgery. We expected some uptake because some margins were left in order to spare the parathyroids and vocal chords. This is normal and it is expected that the RAI will destroy that remaining tissue. We hope that the RAI will also do it's thing and destroy those positive nodes as well!
I was very frustrated at UW Medicine today because I had to wait for what seemed like forever for my scan, and then it took over 2 hours! The scanner is a special scanner just for thyroid cancer. It detects the gamma rays emitted from the radioactive spots. The lens is only centimeters from your face, so if you are claustrophobic, good luck. Peering over the doctor's shoulder at the computer screen, I have to say it was quite alarming seeing my liver and bladder glowing on the scans. This is normal and expected as the iodine is metabolized and excreted. What we were concerned about, besides the neck, were the lungs and bones, as that is the most common first destination for thyroid cancer cells. I just don't like knowing that there is all that radiation inside of my body - I want it out of there!
I had a great consult today with a new naturopath, Kathleen Pratt. She is at the same clinic as the last ND that I saw. She listened to my needs, let me talk as much as I needed, and worked with me on my concerns, the biggest of which was getting rid of the radiation in my body (after the treatment, of course). We talked about big doses of antioxidants because those will prevent damage from the radiation. She was so thrilled to hear about my diet and said that I am doing very great things for my body. She prescribed me some antioxidant supplements. One of my current concerns is severe orthostatic hypotension. This occurs when one repositions from lying to sitting to standing and blood pressure drops suddenly, equalling dizziness, and for me, loss of vision for a few moments. I've had it in the past but since my surgery it has been almost scary at times. This can be caused be decreased mineral absorption, and I'll be taking a mineral supplement after I get out of the hospital (I can't take any vitamins or supplements right now due to iodine content). Interestingly, orthostatic hypotension can also be caused by stress, as the adrenals are pumping out all of this cortisol. She prescribed me an adrenal support supplement to take as well. This really makes sense, as the times I've suffered from this condition can definitely be correlated with times of stress in my life.
Another cancer treatment we discussed is IV vitamin C. When taken orally, there is a limit to how much the body will absorb. (Vitamin C is absorbed in the small intestine, in case you were wondering.) But much higher doses can be absorbed through IV. This will help to minimize damage from radiation in my body. This can be followed by an even higher dose of vitamin C, in which case it actually becomes a pro-oxidant and kills cancer cells! This is certainly a treatment I am going to consider, especially if I decide to forgo the external beam radiation treatment.
Tomorrow is back to a normal work day. I'm getting my energy levels back up from my test dose on Friday, and feeling to about how I was on Thursday. I can't believe how much starting a raw diet has helped me, even though my metabolism has continued to plummet more and more each day. My TSH is above 30 now* (if you know anything about thyroid hormones, you won't even be able to imagine how that probably feels). Yet since starting this diet I have gained more energy than right before I started the diet, my hair loss has almost stopped, my bloating improved by about 3 pounds (I'm now only 2 pounds over my weight right before I stopped the hormones), and digestion is completely normal now. My naturopath wasn't surprised at all.
My RAI treatment is still scheduled for Wednesday. I'll be admitted at noon and staying in the hospital for 2 to 4 days in isolation, but there is an open door so visitors are able to talk to me from the doorway (they just can't come in my room). I'll have my cellphone with me in a plastic baggie and hopefully I can access the touch screen sufficiently through that, but once the battery is dead I won't be able to recharge it. I'll have a phone in my room (you remember, the old-fashioned kind, connected to a plug in the wall!), though, if you want to talk to me. If I can fit it into my busy schedule of reading, napping, watching TV, and...um I can't think of anything else ;-)
Apparently Jesse and I are in denial about my impending hospital stay because we just bought tons more produce today. You should see our fridge, it's completely packed with veggies! We also brought home the newest member to our family: a fancy grill! (I don't plan on being 100% raw! and it's Lisa-approved as it has a built in basket for veggies) So please expect lots of BBQ's at the Marsaudon-Follet residence this summer.
The amount of relief, balance, and peace I feel right now is immense. Having put that scan behind me, which I've been anticipating since the day of my diagnosis on March 18, feels so good. The results weren't perfect and I felt some disappointment at first, but the sense of relief that there are no apparent distant metastasis far overwhelms that. Now we just need this RAI to kick butt and destroy all of that cancer in my neck! Go radioactive iodine, Go!
Thank you all for sharing so much love & support. I really felt it today.
*Coming soon: a short lesson on thyroid hormones for those of you who aren't healthcare providers nor experts because of personal thyroid issues.