Sunday, September 19, 2010

Two years later

I have received a lot of emails asking if I am still alive and how I am doing. And, why I have not updated by blog for two years.

So, here is the scoop:

1. First, I am sorry I did not respond to everyone. I have a busy complex life (I plan to do a new blog on this soon).

2. Yes, I am alive.

3. I have visited Dr. Wotton twice in the last two years. Each year I visit him, his assistant uses ultrasound to look around in my neck to see if there is any growth of what would be remaining cancer cells in the tiny bits of thyroid tissue that might remain. Plus, a blood test is done to check my level of Tg. This is thyroglobulin, a protein produced by thyroid cells. Since my thyroid was removed and I had a couple of treatments of radiation, we don't want to find thyroid cells in body. This might mean that there are thyroid cells that are cancerous, stuck somewhere else in my body--like my heart, brain, neck or lung. Well, after two years, so far so good. No evidence of Tg or and no evidence of any growth in my neck.

4. HOWEVER--I have a visit coming up in a couple of weeks. This one worries me somewhat. Why? Because I frequently get hoarse while talking. Plus, I find it difficult to swallow sometimes. I have to point my chin in the air sometimes while swallowing to make the swallow feel "smooth." At other times, when I don't do this, my muscles in my neck feel like they are stressed or having trouble swallowing. It is uncomfortable.

5. Taste: My taste buds never came back. Most foods taste very weak. I can tell sweet versus sour and I can distinguish different foods, but it is not the same as before. Things just don't taste like they used to.

6. More concerns: A study at Ohio State's cancer center indicates that with low levels of Tg, 80% of patients have a recurrence of cancer within three to five years. For those patients with very low or undetectable levels of Tg, 2-5% of patients have a recurrence in the same time period. Overall, 20% of patients will have a recurrence of cancer. Dr. Wooton says because of the size of my tumor (stage 4, about the size of my hand without the fingers), I am likely to have a recurrence.

Here are the actual stats on the research:

A. Tg levels over 2.0, 80% recurrence.
B. Tg levels below .5, 2% recurrence