Some good cancer news and hospital gossip

Just got the results of my CT scan yesterday, and there is no progression of disease–the spots are just hanging out in my lungs. That was the plan and it’s working. The tumour marker in my blood is also dropping. Also good news. I’ll be reducing my frequency of visits to once every six weeks–not sure if that’s because of the extra virulent Covid strains or because I’m being triaged down a tiny bit, but I’ll take it. Next scan is in six months, and again we will be hoping for no change in the spots.

In not-new side effects news, the big attention-getter the last few weeks, aside from ever-present fatigue, is difficulty regulating my body temperature. I go to bed roasting hot, wake up in the middle of the night freezing cold, and have a hard time getting warmed up or cooled off, as needed. Plus I’m so out of it when I wake up it takes awhile to figure out that I’m shivering. I’ve now got a bin next to the bed with a heating pad, hoodie, extra socks, and sweats, and we’ve got flannel sheets and a gazillion blankets on the bed that I can take off or put on as needed. And sometimes that’s not enough. It’s the best I’ve figured out so far. My doctor thinks it’s not related to the meds, but the people on my Facebook group think otherwise. Someone recommended “a big British hot water bottle” but I have not found a source for such a thing here. Another option is electric blanket. I literally have no idea what the room temperature is half the time.

Speaking of the people on my Facebook group: it’s a pretty consistent set of discussions as new people show up with the same questions over and over, and regulars tell their stories of disease or treatment progression. Sometimes someone dies, as you’d expect. But for the first time since I joined, this week, there was a “how long have you been living with metastatic thyroid cancer?” thread. At first is was the usual 10-20 year horizon. Then one badass woman chimes in that she’d been living with it for 53 years! Obviously, there’s no telling for any one case how it will turn out, but that certainly a longer horizon than I’d ever seen. Sure, it’s the “good cancer”* but stage IV is stage IV.

In other news: my doctor got Covid. He’s incredibly buff. Like extreme sports for fun buff. He was careful but works in a hospital, so the chance for even a tiny slip or bad luck is much higher. He said he had a fever for 11 days and hadn’t been that sick since he was a child. He says he’s feeling better now. But Covid is serious shit. Two of my friends also got it while being very careful. People: try not to get Covid!

I’ve only done two slightly “high risk” activities (for me) in the past few months: 1) I went to the optometrist to get set up for computer glasses because my neck is killing me. It was fine for store behaviour, but some of the other customers were not as careful about 2 meters as I would have liked, I was in there longer than I wanted to be. If I have to sit and wait again, I’ll probably go stand outside. 2) And the CT scan also felt a bit dicey. People weren’t really able to be fully 2 meters apart; everyone has to briefly take off their mask to drink the three servings of the not especially delicious chalky drink that they give you; and occasionally someone is wheeled in on a stretcher who does not have any mask on at all. All the staff are super careful, but it is a non-optimal situation. I’ve been wearing a KN-95 mask or that and a cloth mask over it, but still, it’s weird to feel that such basic activities are in some sense dangerous.

*Fuck that “good cancer” bullshit and, as always, fuck cancer.