I am eating a fair amount of peanut butter and matzoh right now. Also almonds, raisins, apples, and dried apricots. I’ve switched to English Breakfast tea from my usual latte. All of this is part of a low iodine diet, in preparation for a radioactive iodine 131 treatment in about a week.
Back in late April, I went to the doctor with what turned out to be strep throat. As she was examining me, she found a lump on my thyroid. “No big deal,” I thought, “Mom and Grandmother have had benign nodes on their thyroid, too.” Only it turned out that it wasn’t just a node. About a month after my initial doctor’s appointment, I had a fine needle aspiration, aka a biopsy, of the tumor which showed that it had hurtle (sounds like “turtle”) cells, indications that it could be cancer. “You’re going to need surgery, they may remove the whole thyroid,” my new endocrinologist told me.
And then I went to the United Kingdom for 10 days, with a brief stopover in Iceland, and pretended to forget all about it. But four days after I got back, I was sitting in the surgeon’s office while he explained to me how a thyroidectomy works. He drew pictures and made sure I understood everything he said, for which I am eternally grateful. We set a date for the surgery at the end of August, and I went (again) on my merry way.
It was cancer. It was a relatively small, self-contained tumor which doesn’t seem to have spread to my lymph nodes or anything, but it was cancer. Lucky for me, thyroid cancer is very treatable. Three weeks of the this low iodine diet. Yesterday and today I got shots of thyrogen, to stimulate the remaining thyroid. Today I received a dose of I-123, which will serve as a sort of marker to show what remains of my thyroid. Tomorrow I get a dose of I-131, after which I have to spend three days isolated from humans and (sadly) my cats. And then it’s maintenance mode, with regular checks to make sure the cancer never comes back.
The last nine months have been crazy, and this is an experience I would happily repeat. At the same time, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have great medical providers, and awesome therapist who educated herself about the disease to support me, amazing friends and family who have reached out and helped me when I needed it but didn’t even know.
The best online resource for thyroid cancer is ThyCa, but I’ve also found a great group of people in the Thyroid Yarnies group on Ravelry.