It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about cancer. Partly this is because being post-treatment is part of my life. But every year I go in for a scary scan, and every year it shows the same thing: there are some nodules in my lungs, probably metastatic thyroid cancer. They have been growing very slowly. This year’s scan showed the biggest one had grown by 3mm. Since 2011, it’s been “watchful waiting,” since the alternative they offered me was exploratory lung surgery that had no curative purpose–all it could do would be a positive diagnosis.
This year, things are different. They have decided to do another dose of radioactive iodine, combined with lithium (this part is based on new research) which is supposed to make the cells hungrier for iodine. To refresh your memory, radioactive iodine is administered as a pill. I am then radioactive for a week and have to stay away from people. Happily, this can now be done as an outpatient treatment, so long as I have a toilet of my own. I managed to get it schedule while Carrie is giving a talk at Michigan October 30th. So I will be glowing for Halloween. Not actually, but I kind of wish I did glow.
I went through RAI in March of 2010 and it was relatively painless apart from the unpleasantness of isolation and a hospital stay. There can be nausea the first day or two, and I couldn’t taste sour for about a month. For two weeks before I have to go on an insane low-iodine diet. (The diet is insane because iodine is in pretty much every processed food and most commercially available salt.) The outcomes of this year’s treatment, close to the 5th anniversary of my first thyroid cancer surgery, are unclear. It might do nothing. It might slow down the growth of the cells a little. It might clear them out a lot. Or it might get rid of everything (for now), which would allow me to actually claim that I am in remission. We don’t know. But the risks are relatively low. And honestly, this is what I wanted them to try in 2011 when they found the growing spots in the first place.
There’s not much else to say on this subject until mid-October. I may do a low-iodine food blog starting around October 15th, since that will be fun and experimental, and I’m not fresh off a 17-day hospital stay (as I was in 2010 when I last went on the diet). And there’s not much for you to do. Food gifts are unnecessary now and will be useless while I am on the low iodine diet, since if I don’t cook it myself and know exactly what’s in it, I won’t eat it.
I owe the world a voice and swallowing update, but I’ll write that separately
AND BONUS NEWS:
Unrelated to the latest treatment plan, I have created a website called http://cancerscapes.ca . I blogged my cancer experience in 2009-10, and now it can be read in proper form from beginning to end. I also made a series of audio projects during cancer treatment, and they are now all listenable (total duration=@30 minutes). The “..and this is my voice” piece was anthologized by New Adventures in Sound Art in 2011.
Cancerscapes is a living archive. The text section of Cancerscapes will automatically add new entries as well, like this one. And who knows, there may someday be more audio to include.