It’s been several months since I wrote an update about my health which is usually a good thing because it means that there’s been nothing new to report. This week saw something very big happen though! Before I get into that, let me begin with a bit of history for those who are new to the blog.
In the early fall of 2013, I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) which is incurable, but often treatable. Exactly seven months later, a second completely unrelated cancer was found in a my left parotid (saliva) gland. Treatment on the first cancer was halted while that one was removed surgically and followed up with thirty radiation treatments. Once I’d had time to heal from that, treatment on the first cancer resumed. I entered a clinical trial that involved 12 radioisotope treatments (PRRT) over a period of approximately five years. Each of these treatments left me highly radioactive for a week, but I responded well and there was some shrinkage of my tumours. In the fall of 2018, toward the end of that regimen, scans detected something suspicious in my thyroid gland which eventually proved to be yet another unrelated cancer. Since only a small percentage of papillary thyroid cancers are aggressive in nature, the decision at that time was to watch and wait. My body had been through enough and we could afford to give it time to heal before deciding how to address this latest discovery.
Skipping ahead three years to last fall, my neuroendocrine cancer continued to be stable. In fact, 20 months after my last PRRT treatment, I was still experiencing some decrease in tumour size. I was feeling great and able to live a normal, active life. Though there had been no change to the thyroid cancer, we decided that the time had come to remove it rather than taking a chance on allowing it to begin growing or spreading.
Then began the long wait due to Covid hospitalizations delaying surgeries! Finally, on Thursday morning, the same amazing surgeon who did my previous neck surgery removed my thyroid. I woke up very early that morning with two distinctly different kinds of cancer and a few hours later I had only one again! It’s taking awhile for the reality of that to truly sink in.
After an overnight stay in the hospital, I’m home and feeling remarkably well considering. I’ve needed nothing more than Tylenol for pain which is such a blessing as heavy duty pain killers make me nauseous. My neck feels a bit like someone held me in a headlock for an extended period of time which is probably pretty similar to what happened during the 3.5 hours of surgery! I have a very husky voice as the result of some difficulties with the breathing tube, but that should gradually heal over the next couple of weeks. I had a super good sleep last night and now I’m just going to lean back and take it easy for a few days! During the first week of March, I’ll be back in the city for a follow up appointment with the surgeon as well as CT scans to check on the neuroendocrine cancer. In the meantime, I’m just rejoicing over having one less cancer!