Tuesday, November 01, 2005

attack of the thyroid

I guess there's no point in beating around the bush here. I have thyroid cancer.

As cancers go, thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable sorts, and my life does not appear to be in any serious danger, although it's expected that I'm going to be on medication for the rest of my life. I'm working on setting up an appointment with an endocrinologist at the hospital so I can work out the full details of my treatment, such as when surgery will take place, and whether I get to keep my thyroid in a jar for the kids to take to show-and-tell.

I first learned that I have a lump on my thyroid Oct. 4, when I went to the doctor's office for help kicking a cold that had had me down for over a week. Thyroid nodules are fairly common. About 30 percent of adults get them, and usually they are benign. Only 5 percent are considered malignant and require any action beyond monitoring the nodule for any changes. (As is typical for my luck, I once again have beaten the odds. The way I beat the odds is exactly why I like to keep away from the roulette table.)

An ultrasound taken on my throat on Oct.10 revealed that the nodule was a solid mass, and not a cyst; a biopsy taken last Friday determined that the cells unequivocally are cancerous.

Where I go from here is setting up that appointment. My understanding is that the cancer was caught early on, but I'm going to seek assurances that it hasn't spread any to other parts of my body. From what I've read and what's been explained to me when I've asked questions, the next step is going to involve killing the thyroid with radioactive iodine and then having it surgically removed. Once that's done, I'll be taking thyroxin for the rest of my life. Among other things, thyroxin helps the body to regulate its metabolism, and helps set the body's thermostat. I'm not sure what lifestyle changes this operation is going to require. It's quite likely I'll never pitch another game in the World Series.

Obviously, I'm a little rattled by this, but I'm not too worried. I've been laughing with friends and my older brother about the situation, and looking at the bright side. If you're the praying sort, I appreciate prayers for my family, who surely are having to adjust to the specter of cancer. If you're not the praying sort, please feel free to send large quantities of cash to assuage any guilt feelings you have over not being able to help. (See? I told you there were good things about having cancer!)

Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to check yourself for any strange lumps.


Al Speegle said...

I was doing some ego surfing and saw the Wittenburg Door mentioned on your site.
Have you considered writing for it?

So how are you doing?
I've been taking a Rx for my hypothyroid-ism for almost a year, I didn't have a clue about it until the strangling sensation got to be a bit much.
I read a book, Thyroidism for Dummies (seriously, it exists), and one comment from it was "People with throidism have an edge, and see things differently."
Explains my writing...
You have my prayers,
Al Speegle

marauder said...

Wow, this is an honor. A Door staff writer at one of my personal blogs.

Yes, I've written for The Door. A few pieces of inspiration I rewrote apeared way back in the issue with the interview with Kinky Friedman. Bob Darden has asked me to send in anything else I have that is that good, and my wife has been on my case to send in some more stuff. And I keep meaning to write a really great exegesis of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," as well as an AFA alert about "Chronicles of Narnia," but so far I haven't. I have considered doing so, though. :-)

Life without a thyroid has been pretty good for the past two months. It's slowly beginning to take a dive, though, as the doctor has taken me off thyroid hormone for the next stage of treatment. I still have most of my energy -- to be honest, I haven't noticed a difference yet -- but in the next few weeks I'm supposed to get very sluggish, and when I'm tired, I get grumpy.

Tell Darden I said hi.

Al Speegle said...

Hello again Marauder,
Gosh, I'm blessed to read your writings / blogs!
That same issue you mentioned(Jan/Feb. 2000) the one with Kinky is the one I had my first article published, The Chi File!
Please, do keep submitting to The Wittenburg Door!

So, how you're doing?
I'm still taking my Rx. I was wondering about taking mine maybe every other day. I tried. Once. By the end of the day I felt like I was being strangled and couldn't wait any longer.
Yep, my problem is gaining weight. I thot it was from my quit smoking, but now I think it's thyroid related. sigh...
By the way, Kinky is running for Texas governor...
Keep up the good works!
Urs n Christ,