First Visit with the Oncologist

I met with my oncologist for the first time on Friday. I was a bit nervous. I was afraid she might turn me away.

When my surgeon told me he was referring me to an oncologist for the next step of my treatment, I was a little worried. I have heard that oncologists don’t usually deal with thyroid cancer unless it is a more serious case (with distant metastasis, was more advanced, or is a type of thyroid cancer that is harder to treat – like anaplastic or medullary). I was afraid the oncologist would turn me away and send me to an endocrinologist. I have had a terrible experience with one of the few endocrinologists in town and have heard bad things about others. I asked my surgeon and he assured me that the oncologist would treat me because people have not had much success with endocrinologists in this area.

I arrived at the South Carolina Oncologist Associates (SCOA) building and was kind of overwhelmed. The building was huge and the parking lot was full. So many cars. I finally found a parking place and made my way into the building. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe I had an appointment with an oncologist. There were so many people in the building, many who were obviously a lot sicker than I am. I almost felt guilty that I have the “if you had to get cancer, this is the one you want” cancer and others have to suffer so much with their cancer. SCOA was a well-oiled machine. The process was easy and everyone was so nice. They sent me from one station to the next. Check-in, insurance info and payment, lab for blood work, vitals station, and finally the exam room.

I liked the doctor and her assistant almost immediately. She was thorough and was obviously acquainted with my case. She had spoken with the surgeon and had all my reports. She had a plan of action outlined and explained why she thought radioactive iodine (RAI) was the best next step:

  • I’m older (41)
  • there was multifocality (I had two different types of thyroid cancer, each in a different lobe)
  • my cancer had advanced beyond the thyroid.

The last one was news to me. It was my understanding that the cancer was contained in my thyroid. She said it was just barely past the thyroid membrane and in the fatty soft tissue. The surgeon had removed it. RAI should get any remnants of thyroid tissue and thyroid cancer. Okay, you talked me into it.

While we were there, she called to order Thyrogen shots for me. I will NOT have to be off my thyroid hormone replacement medicine in order to receive RAI. I’m so happy about that! I was dreading having to go off my meds for 6 weeks (plus it would take approximately 6 weeks afterward to get the meds back in my system and start feeling better). I’m already tired and experiencing hypo symptoms. I can’t imagine getting through the days feeling worse. I will do the low-iodine diet two weeks prior to RAI. She did a quick exam, was concerned that I may be having hypoparathyroidism symptoms and had the lab run my calcium. My calcium levels came back perfect, although I am currently taking a calcium supplement. I was tested on Wednesday by my surgeon and was off of the calcium supplement. I haven’t heard anything and am curious about those results.

The last part of the appointment was spent trying to schedule the RAI. The hospital and insurance company do not want to admit me and let me stay the first 3 days of my isolation while I’m radioactive. They want me to take my RAI and go home. I can’t do that! I have children and pets and no place to isolate myself at my house. They asked if I had friends or relatives that would take me in. Um, no. All of our family are in Texas and my friends have children of their own. And even if they didn’t, who would want a radioactive person in their house? We had to leave before things were squared away, but the lady that was trying to schedule things assured me she would fight for me. Yay! She said she would call me Monday to let me know the details. Right now, I am tentatively scheduled to take the first Thyrogen shot on March 12th, the second Thyrogen shot on March 13th and to be admitted into the hospital the next day for the RAI. Hopefully, I won’t have to take my sleeping bag and camp out in the hospital waiting room or better yet, at the Blue Cross Blue Shield offices. I’d be sure to wear a radioactive sign.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sheen85
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 02:13:07

    Good luck with everything! You’ll do great! The RAI wasn’t as bad for me as everyone says it would be. I was sent home, which was fine since I don’t have any children. But I really hope they let you stay in the hospital. Fingers crossed!


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