Scan Results are In!

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My oncologist’s office called. My scans were clear!! Everything looked good! I don’t have to go back to my oncologist until August. I am so relieved!

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Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad (LID)

Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad (LID)

I love cucumber salads. This is my favorite one. It’s adapted from a recipe in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking by Mai Pham (Prima Publishing, 1996).

I often make this salad using regular cucumbers found at the grocery store. Peel and then remove the seeds before slicing. Most of the time I make this salad only using cilantro since it’s an easy-to-find and inexpensive herb. In the summer months, I also use mint and Thai basil that I grow in my garden. I love the combination of cilantro, mint, and basil in Southeast Asian foods. Use any one of these herbs or a combination when you make this salad.

Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers (English cucumbers work well), cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 – 3 jalapenos or other hot chile (to taste), seeded, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
fresh herb(s), to taste
….fresh cilantro, chopped
….fresh mint leaves, chopped
….fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt (I use Morton’s Coarse Kosher Salt)

Combine the sliced cucumbers, onion, jalapenos, and herb(s) in a bowl. In another bowl (or measuring cup) combine the rice vinegar, sugar, water, and non-iodized salt. Pour the mixture over the cucumber salad. Mix to combine. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

Scar Update

The puncture marks from the staples are finally starting to  fade. The scar is also, ever so slightly, starting to flatten out. I have an appointment with the surgeon in about 2 weeks. I’m hoping he will be happy with the way the scar is healing and finally release me.

This is what my scar looks like today. It’s been about 15 weeks since my thyroidectomy.

Neck May 16, 2014

My Whole Body Scan Results

I had an appointment this morning with my oncologist to get the result of my whole body scan. I was her last patient of the day and she was running 1 1/2 hours behind. Uggh.

The whole body scan showed uptake of the radioactive iodine in my neck area. That’s good. That’s where we want it. It doesn’t necessarily mean more cancer. It just means there is thyroid tissue in my neck. Even the most skilled surgeon can’t removed 100% of the thyroid, so a little leftover tissue is to be expected. The radioactive iodine should eliminate that over the next few months. Aside from that, there were two vague spots on the left and right sides of my body that lit up. They were too low to be in my lungs and were not on any bones. I have read that it isn’t uncommon for the bladder and areas in the digestive system to light up. After all, the body is working to eliminate the radioactive iodine. I asked her if she thought this might be the case and she said it was a possibility but she wanted me to have a CT scan in two months. Great.

I was hoping to get the “all clear” today, but I’m learning that things aren’t so black and white with thyroid cancer. I really just want to hear the words, “you are cancer free and you will be fine.”

So, now I have two more months to wait. I think my worse fear is that the CT scan will find something else. The challenge will be trying not to dwell on what might be over the next 8 weeks.
On the same day of the CT scan, I will have my first round of blood work and will visit with my oncologist again. She/we are hoping that the thyroglobulin (a protein used as a cancer marker) levels will be very close to zero. If all goes well and it is determined that the cancer is gone, then I will just have blood work done every 3 months to monitor for any recurrence.

At this time, my TSH levels are at .02, exactly where my oncologist wants them. I’m still having some hypo symptoms, so it will be interesting to see where my levels are in 2 months.

Second Post-Op Appointment

The bad weather held out long enough so that I was able to make it to my appointment with the surgeon today. Thank goodness! I was ready to get the 38 staples in my neck removed. It was a bit uncomfortable as he removed each staple, but I felt much better afterwards. The incision doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would, although my neck still looks a little shocking. The doctor didn’t put gauze over my incision and I had to walk out into the main office full of people. Lovely.

38 staples out

I could feel people staring. I didn’t care, though. I had just gotten some good news. My surgeon had the final pathology report. The lymph nodes he removed during the surgery were clear of malignancy. The samples from the neck tissue around my thyroid were also clear. I think he also said that the samples taken from the thyroid around the nodule didn’t contain cancer. I can’t remember the details. I wish I had a copy of the report to be sure. I’ll have to remember to ask the oncologist for a copy. It appears I caught this thing early, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I will have a full body scan in 6 to 8 weeks. When that comes back clear, I will feel much better.

I also found out from the pathology report that I have the follicular variant of papillary thyroid cancer. It was located in the right lobe of my thyroid and measured 1.4 cm. A microcarcinoma measuring 1 mm was found in the left lobe of my thyroid and it was pure papillary thyroid cancer. I am so glad the whole thyroid was removed. I will have to undergo a radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) in 6 to 8 weeks to ablate any remaining thyroid tissue.

Another interesting piece of information contained in the report was that my thyroid was severely damaged due to Hashimoto’s disease. Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disorder that attacks the thyroid. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 12 years ago. I have been tested for Hashimoto’s in the past by two different doctors and was told by both I didn’t have it. Hashimoto’s tends to cause a rise in certain thyroid antibodies and mine were never elevated. I also never had typical Hashimoto’s symptoms. Even though it wasn’t previously detected, it apparently did a number on my thyroid. My surgeon said my thyroid was shriveled and hard, almost rubbery. I am so happy it is gone. My thyroid was rubbish and I expect I will feel much better now that it is out of me.

I’m 11 days out from my thyroidectomy and honestly, I feel pretty good. I’ve been able to keep taking Synthroid (although I prefer Levoxyl and can’t wait for it to be back on the market). I think I have an advantage since I was hypothyroid and on meds before having a thyroidectomy. I hope that means I won’t have to adjust my dose much. I’m not looking forward to getting off my meds to prepare for RAI. I can’t imagine how terrible I am going to feel.

I was scheduled to meet with the oncologist on the 13th, but the appointment was cancelled because of ice and snow. The appointment was rescheduled for the 21st. I will know more about the next steps then.