Just a few updates for everyone!
I had my first scan (CT of chest, abdomen, and pelvis) at the new hospital in Michigan (Beaumont Health) on May 31st. I was anxious as usual for a scan day, but I was extra nervous doing it in a brand new place. I have been getting my testing done at the same place for 9 years, and change with anything medical makes me anxious. But, it all went smoothly. I got my results back and everything was clear and NED (no evidence of disease). My last scan in October 2017 noted a small hernia in my abdomen in my scar area from my hysterectomy. This scan did not note one, so that was good as well!
I also had labs done that same morning that my new primary doctor ordered. One of the things she tested was my thyroid levels. They came back abnormal. The standard range is 0.40-4.50mcIU/mL and mine was 12.80mcIU/mL. So, that is showing that my thyroid is under active, in other words not working as well as it should. I had a thyroid ultrasound back in October 2017 and a small 2mm node was found on the left lobe. After knowing that and finding out about my abnormal blood work, I became very worried. Although I was told thyroid issues are common after certain treatment, my mind went to the worst case scenario…thyroid cancer. It is so easy for your mind to go back to such a scary place, especially since it has happened to me before getting diagnosed with a second cancer. I had a follow-up ultrasound on the 4th. This time, they found 2 nodes, 1 being 4mm and the other 5mm. So, it grew in size and another appeared. I am sure you can guess how much more nervous I was after seeing that. I contacted my oncologist and gynecological oncologist back home to update them and get their opinions on it as well. After speaking with them and my new team here in Michigan, my mind is at ease(ish). I have been placed on a thyroid medication that will help wake my thyroid up. The nodes are still considered small, so we will check them again in a year unless an issue comes up before then. I’ve been informed this is a common side effect from having radiation to that area, which I did when I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My previous nurse told me she was surprised I am just having thyroid issues now and it didn’t happen sooner, it has been 9 years since the radiation!
So with that being said, I am very grateful to have another NED scan. I am also relieved that the thyroid issue is not serious and can be regulated with medication. I am still a little stressed that this has come up. With the hysterectomy/menopause changing my body, metabolism, etc., I became very upset finding out I have an under active thyroid that can cause weight gain, fatigue, etc. on top of that. It does explain some of the symptoms I have been struggling with, for example, I feel tired all the time. I seem to have one medical issue resolved and another pops up. My mind wrestles with losing motivation and getting discouraged quite easily. But, this is the reality of life after cancer. Unfortunately the treatment you have to receive to beat that disease can bring up other side effects down the road. My treatments started 9 years ago, and there are plenty of later side effects to watch out for. Cancer does not end with your last dose of treatment. It lingers and effects you on many levels: physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
Let’s hope this medication helps, and if you have experience with an under active thyroid, please reach out to me! I have questions 🙂
7/22/18 Update –
I met with my primary doctor on Thursday the 19th. We were doing a follow-up in regards to the thyroid issue they discovered in May. I was put on a thyroid medication and had to give it about 6 weeks. So, when I saw my doc we did some fasted blood work to check my levels. I got the results back the next day and my levels are now in the normal range! Back on 5/31 my thyroid level was 12.80 mcIU/mL. It is now down to 3.07 mcIU/mL, with a normal range being between 0.40 – 4.50 mcIU/mL. So….the medicine is doing its job and I am on the right dosage, yay! My thyroid finally woke up haha. I have noticed a difference in regards to my fatigue and energy and I am continuing to work on my weight loss (25lbs down).
Not all side effects from treatment can be fixed this easily; that is what comes once you have been diagnosed with cancer. I have had a handful of side effects I’ve dealt with directly from my cancer and from the chemotherapy and radiation I received. Examples of more serious side effects include back surgery due to radiation causing my lower back to be degenerative and surgical menopause after my hysterectomy. There is a list of side effects to look out for, and it is something you have to continue to check and monitor. It gets frustrating and stressful, but I am here and grateful for that. 🙂
I go for my 3-month check-up with the oncology clinic at the end of August!