Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inner landscape # 17-Confusion

Digital print, 8 by 10 inches.

On Monday I went to my annual thyroid cancer check up. Summer 2010, they had done a thyrogen test and my Tg was 3.5. Not where we want it. There have been 3 such tests and my Tg sort of fluctuates up and down. Made a seasoned oncologist say that I had absolutely no reason whatsoever to think there would be anything lingering after my thyroidectomy and a firm dose of 100mCi RAI. Almost deridingly so. In my face. While I was sitting in front of him just out of breast cancer (my second cancer) surgery. Bilateral amputations for a cancer they didn't expect at all to be lingering. Anyway. Bygones. This last time my Tg is up. My ultrasounds are clear. No reason for panic. Must keep an eye on. That summer they didn't call me to tell me my results. So I went in for them and to ask what the new follow up strategy was going to be like. I had made a special appt for that. Hey?! ... They said they wouldn't do regular thyrogen testing, and wait&see what the marker does while surpressed. That was a bit surprising, since anyone I know with comparable cancer givens has yearly thyrogen tests done, ultrasounds and some have scans. So I asked again, to be sure. No, not scheduled. 'Will cancer manifest itself while surpressed then?' I ask, 'should anything be lurking.' They nodded. Makes sense. Why would cancer obey rules, wildly as it grows. Still, maybe faster than they would expect? No reason for concern, they said. Of course unexpected things can't be predicted, like my cancer morphing into something less treatable, after being bombarded once with RAI. Possible. Can't say. Had bloodwork done to see if my Tg had lowered again after the test. Was interested to know. Results can't be found anywhere in the system. I must be mistaken. No blood sample was taken. Huh? Hey?! This Monday the supervisor comes in after talking to the assistant who saw me (10 minutes) and says, 'we're scheduling a thyrogen test for you in 6 months. Not now, there's a problem with thyrogen supply coming in from the US' ..... Huh? Can anyone follow? I can't. But I'm so baffled that I go home carrying the schedule of thyrogen shots in my bag. Today I phoned to go back in so as to unravel all inconsistencies they threw at me. If that's what it takes for me to get my barings, I'll do it. Hey?!

This image is done using a photo of the trees outside my hospital window when I was in there for my breast cancer surgery. The trees reminded me of a Greek Chorus in Greek tragedy, a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action. They were there to offer a variety of background and summary information to help the audience follow the performance. In many of these plays, the chorus expressed to the audience what the main characters could not say, such as their hidden fears or secrets. The chorus often provided other characters with the insight they needed.


Linda Popple said...

I am in the beginning stages of just exploring your blog. My daughter-in-law, Heather, was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a month ago. It's been an intense few weeks and we are all trying to adjust to that "new normal" that the cancer books and pamphlets talk about. She had a bilateral mastectomy a week after diagnosis. Lymph nodes clear, but it is aggressive. Many tests, some good and some not so good. But, overall it looks like a good prognosis. She is HER2 receptive so she will start chemo soon then a year of Herceptin. Your blog is helping me to understand cancer and what it is like to have it. Thank you! Heather is like my own daughter and I feel helpless. I vacillate between prayers and yelling "f**k cancer!" Although, I am overwhelmed with information I continue to search and your blog is now bookmarked for further exploration. Much more than you wanted to hear .... thanks for allowing me to vent to someone I don't even know.

William Evertson said...

I really find in unconscionable that physicians etc can't take the time to fully explain lab results and future planning or strategy. Small wonder that Linda (above)searches for small fragments of insight throughout the Internet. Linda, you came to a great blog; Ria may get frustrated with these docs but she persists and finds answers.

Ria Vanden Eynde said...

Hi Linda, thx so much for dropping a line. I'm glad you find my blog helpful in dealing with your daughter-in-law's cancer. That's what I dreamt my blog would/could be. I hope she'll be well and you too amidst all of this cancer-chaos, "vacillating between prayers and yelling "f**k cancer!". Explore away. All Best to you both!

Ria Vanden Eynde said...

THX Bill! XX