Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not digging this cancer shit

Just when I had prepared myself for a "simple" surgery of totally removing my thyroid, I get crapped on again. I had my pre-op clearance tests yesterday. Lo and behold, it appears the cancer has spread to 5 lymph nodes near the original tumor. Hmmff. I go from stage 1 to stage 2 cancer in a matter of hours. And I will have a neck resection with the thyroidectomy.

This means a 4-hour surgery instead of 2 hour surgery, and a 5 inch incision instead of a 2-inch cut. I will be in the hospital 3 nights instead of one, because I'll need a drain in my neck after surgery. Lovely.

It threw me for a loop. I'm scared all over again.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Treatment Update

So, this week has been busy. I had a consult with a head and neck cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on Monday morning. It went very well. Both Michael and I liked him immediately, and he was knowledgeable, confident, and actually nice. That's rare for surgeons (at least the ones I know ;). The worst part, but the coolest part, was when he threaded a thin tube with a camera down my nose and into my throat. He was taking pictures of my vocal chords when I sang a high note and a low note. He does this to document the integrity of my vocal chords now, and will re-test after surgery, to see if any intra-operative damage occurred. Apparently, the thyroid gland sits on top of the trachea and vocal chords, so when its removed, it needs to be very carefully peeled away. There is a chance that the chords can be stretched or severed. That may make some people I know very happy - I am quite loud!

Yesterday was my consult at Yale with another surgeon. Now I know why its important to get a second opinion! We did not like him at all. He was old, he mumbled, and he seemed bored with my case. His resident also made many mistakes when telling us about the procedure before the big surgeon came in. He said I'd have a neck drain for two days! Luckily, he was wrong. Eww. They also did the vocal chord test, but he barely explained it to me, didn't ask for my permission or for me to sign consent. He shoved that thing down my nose with no regard to me, and it hurt. At least at Sloan, they numbed my nostrils and throat, and went slowly and gently.

The only pro to using Yale is that it can be done quickly, as in two weeks from today. They don't require any further pre-op testing. Sloan wants a confirmation ultrasound, during which they'll evaluate my lymph nodes . . . if they are suspicious, they'd want a biopsy of those, so they can take them out during the thyroid surgery. Surgery at Sloan would be after July 4th sometime.

I feel better, more calm. At least I made a choice, and feel comfortable with the surgeon. It is strange that he is about my age. Wow. When did I grow up?