Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another new doctor

I met with an ENT (ear, nose & throat) surgeon yesterday for the purposes of removing my thyroid lesion. He was highly recommended by my oncologist and endocrinologist, so I guess I'm in good hands. He told me that the surgery would be pretty quick (30-45 min), and they would analyze the specimen from the removed section of my thyroid while I'm still under anesthetic. If the cells are cancerous, then they would go back in and remove the entire gland. If determined benign, then they'll patch me up and send me on my way.

I haven't scheduled the surgery yet because I'll need to finished with chemo for a few weeks before my immune system is ready. Fortunately, I should only be out of action for a few days.

On a side note, it's been interesting meeting all these new doctors in a small amount of time. There's of course the annoyance of showing up early to fill out the new patient paperwork every time (at least now I have interesting things to put down on the medical history section). Comparing the various personalities and bed-side manners has been quite intriguing. Here's a list of the various medical personnel I've come into contact with since December:

- Urgent care doc #1 (Tucson, when my mystery rash first appeared)
- Urgent care doc #2 (California, wicked stomach virus)
- Chiropractor (we still can't tell if my back pain was Hodgkin's related)
- General practitioner
- CT scan technician
- Oncologist #1
- Pathologist (fine needle biopsy)
- Oncologist #2 (second opinion)
- Andrologist
- Physician's asst. and several chemotherapy nurses
- ENT #1 (lymph node removal)
- surgical staff
- PET-CT technician
- MUGA technician (cardio scan)
- Respiratory technician (pulmonary tests)
- Podiatrist
- Endocrinologist
- ENT #2 (thyroid surgery)
- many phlebotomists
- several pharmacists

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chemo Round Eleven & Possible Bonus Cancer!

I need a break.

I had Chemo Round Eleven on Monday. No major issues in that area, fortunately. White cell counts are holding steady with the help of the shots of Neupogen. I did notice that I was much more easily winded when working out over the weekend, but that could be due as much to my inconsistent regimen as to the chemo drugs catching up with me.

The big news: I did finally hear back regarding my thyroid. Last week an endocrinologist performed a fine needle biopsy, where they removed a few cells from the suspicious area of my thyroid. The results came back positive for a follicular lesion. What does this mean? From what the doc told me (and I've confirmed thus far), is that I have a 75% chance that the growth is benign and 25% chance that it's cancerous. The fine needle biopsy is limited in what it can reveal, so the only way to determine what's going on with the lesion is to surgically remove half the thyroid. (Quick anatomy lesson: thyroid is a roughly symmetrical, butterfly-shaped gland that straddles your voice box.) Once they perform a further pathology on the removed lobe, they can determine whether thyroid cancer is present. In that case, then full removal of the thyroid would likely follow.

This is certainly not the news I was hoping for, especially when I just getting used to the idea of my life getting back to normal. I'm waiting to hear back from my oncologist to see what his opinion is, but it sounds like they wouldn't be cutting me open for a couple months anyway (gotta get my white counts back to normal before surgery). As far as the big picture goes, I do recognize that this could be a lot worse (fatal cases of thyroid cancer are very rare). For the moment, though, I prefer to remain frustrated in the cruel timing of all this. [shakes fist in the air]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chemo Round Ten

Round Ten was on Monday. My veins are starting to go on strike it seems. So many of the patients have ports these days that I think the nurses can get a bit fussy when they deal with someone like me who has opted against one. I only have two more treatments, so getting a port at this point seems sort of silly. My attitude is, I have some good veins somewhere, so go find one! In all seriousness, the nurses and staff have served me really well, and they've made the process pretty easy for me.

Side effects are still under control, but I've noticed a slight decrease in appetite. I've got a busy couple of weeks ahead with work and other miscellaneous tasks, so I'm hoping for no major speedbumps.

I still won't know anything about my thyroid until at least next week. I'm hoping it's nothing major because I'm sick of being sick.

July 14: Consult with an endocrinologist
July 15: My birthday :)
July 20: Chemo Round Eleven
August 3: Chemo Round Twelve (of Twelve!!!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chemo Round Nine & Thyroid Issues

It's a little late in coming, but I figured I should finally get around to posting a Round Nine update. Everything went normally, and it was good to have my Dad in town for a few days. I've noticed some more prominent numbness in my fingers and toes. It usually goes aways after a few days, but docs say they'll try to tweak my dosage so that it doesn't have permanent effects. (Good idea!)

I also had an ultrasound performed on my neck last week because the PET-CT showed some "activity" on my thyroid. The ultrasound confirmed that there was a small patch of something on my thyroid, but it's difficult to tell whether it's something major or minor. My oncologist wants to have someone else take a look at it, but apparently, endocrinologists are tough to come by in Tucson. I'll have to wait two weeks before I can get into see one, so in the mean time I get to focus on the day-to-day again.