Contestant #1 - Treatment by radioactive iodine. You deplete the patient's body of iodine through a nasty diet, then you make them ingest a capsule of iodine laced with radioactive material. Ya' know, Chernobyl? The iodine goes to iodine starved thyroid cells and kills them with their secret ingredient.
Contestant #2 - Treatment by surgery. Ya' know cut 'em open and hack it out. The good ol' fashioned way doctors deal with things they don't know how to fix. The appendix? What's that for? Let's just cut 'em out. The tonsils? Those crazy things, dig 'em out and throw 'em away. Things with cancer? Cut 'em out. Who needs a thyroid anyway, it's only the master gland of the body, totally in control of all other systems.
(I found it a little ironic that the tree outside
the surgeon's window was missing a lot of limbs.)
A third possibility was a tie between Contestant #1 and #2 - using both to try to stop the little tumors that just like to grow in my neck.
Our visit with the surgeon last week brought us some expected and some unexpected news. I had printed out the next three months of my online calendar with all of our out-of-town company, school events, sports and travels. In my mind I had only a few windows of opportunity to fit in cancer treatment. I kinda' have this stubborn streak where I don't like to let cancer run my life. It has to be in my life, but it can't take charge.
The expected news - the thyroid uptake body scan showed my body did not take in the radioactive iodine. After being on that nasty low-iodine diet for 25 days and taking in a tracer dose of rai, it did not light up the tumors that were clearly evident in the ultrasound and the PET/CT scan. As this has been the case for the past few years, it wasn't an option for treatment with cancer round #2, either.
The unexpected news - even though the process of elimination automatically brings you to Contestant #2, the surgeon did not recommend that at this time.
In his words, "You only have so many candles to burn...you can only have so many surgeries in a lifetime."
Because the neck is a tender area, and much scar tissue builds up with each surgery, each procedure increases the risk for more damage. I already have a lot of scar tissue and some nerve damage.
He thought I should save my last few candles and light them when I really need them.
So the winner is - NOTHING!
Once you get over the shock that I have cancer and no treatment is going to take place at this time, be calmed with the words of my surgeon.
He encouraged me to look at Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma as a chronic disease, not a typical cancer.
"You will die WITH it, not FROM it." It isn't like other cancers, like breast, where you need to be aggressively removing and treating tumors.
He isn't overly concerned about further metastasizes into the lungs or bones, the areas common for spreading of this cancer, although this thought likes to creep into my mind on occasion.
I haven't had a follow-up with my endocrinologist, but we are feeling peace about the surgeon's recommendation. I was dreading the side-effects of the treatment and my cancer has no symptoms at this time, so it is the easy choice for now.
However, there are three little cancerous tumors. They can grow, they can spread. If I think too far in the future, I could really panic.
I think at this time it is a mental, emotional and spiritual challenge. Can I handle the fact that there is cancer in my body and treatment is not the best option for now?
As always, we turn to the Lord for peace and for direction. We have continuously prayed for the doctors to have wisdom and for the right things to be done for treatment. We have finally, after six years of cancer, found a team of doctors we feel we can trust and are comfortable with. This is a huge answer to prayer for us.
When I was worrying about the possibility of the tumors growing or spreading, the Lord gave me this verse.
Matthew 6:34, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
My first obvious reaction with the surgeon's recommendation was relief. I was not looking forward to the side-effects of the treatment(s), and knew it would take about a year of my life to go through the treatment and full recovery. When treatment was eliminated, I told people, "I have my life back." If I spend this time worrying and forcasting doom, I will be wasting the time the Lord has given me.
The verse prior to this one is well-known as well, I just didn't remember they were next to each other in the Scriptures.
33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Already, I am using the time the Lord has given me. I signed Rebekah up for softball, something we have been wanting to do but couldn't fit it in with my surgery and recovery last spring.
I started spring cleaning, something I haven't fully done for awhile. I bought material to sew. The kids and I plan to learn to make homemade bread and grind our own wheat.
Above all, I pray. I feel that the Lord has removed traditional treatment for a season, but we are left with prayer, a mighty weapon we have through the Lord Jesus Christ.
My goal is to have peace.
Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
May you seek and find peace from the Lord in all the trials you are facing. Large or small, trials can bring us away from the Lord, or into His everlasting Arms.
We just have to determine which direction we want to run.