Actually, that statement’s not entirely correct. I have had several pieces of good news since my neck-dissection surgery at the end of November. I’ve had follow-up consultations with Dr. Boyle, my surgeon; with Dr. Sherman, my medical oncologist; with Dr. Fish, my endocrinologist; and with Dr. Hamilton, who’s following me for my long-quiescent non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
All of them are entirely pleased with my progress. A PET scan on February 26 picked up no trace of cancer in my neck. The surgery was evidently highly successful in removing all the malignancies that could be detected. Dr. Fish’s analysis of my blood work reveals no markers in my blood that would indicate a recurrence.
The PET scan did light up one area in my mediastinum — the area just behind my sternum (breastbone), which I’ve learned is one of the places where recurrent thyroid cancer can travel. But it’s small, has been there for several recent scans and shows no signs of change. It’s not in a location where a needle biopsy is possible, and there’s no other way of sampling the tissue except by means of major surgery, so all the doctors are agreed that “watch and wait” is the way to go on that. The area is small enough, and a PET scan is hard enough to read with precision, that it could fall within the realm of error.
Dr. Sherman tells me there are a number of advanced treatments available, should the anomaly prove to be more than just a smudge on the PET scan image. Some of these are quite advanced: targeted therapies keyed to my DNA. I feel like there’s no sense delving deeply into the treatment particulars before it’s actually needed: things can change, not only with me but also with current research into the most effective approaches. There will be plenty of opportunity to learn more, should it ever be necessary.
I don’t think about my cancer all that often, which is a good thing. I’ve become a real pro at this “watch and wait” stuff. I dutifully report for my lab tests and doctors’ appointments, and take comfort that some very skilled people are watching the results on my behalf.
No news is good news. Really.