A week after I had the neck ultrasound I went back for the results, which was on November 15, 2011. At first, my thoughts were what if they find something or that there is further spread? My husband said that we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Little did we know that bridge was staring at us point blank! There was a suspicious nodule found right near my left laryngeal nerve where they couldn’t remove it all. I was floored! So the next step was to set up the biopsy to determine if this was in fact a metastatic nodule. I had the biopsy on November 30, 2011 and grateful that my husband was able to come with me for that appointment. The interventional radiologist that performed the biopsy was really amazing. At first I could hardly feel it, and then there was a lot of pressure as the nodule was very close to my trachea. They only had to do a few needle passes and then had adequate tissue and the pathology team was right there in the room as well.
On December 6, 2011, I came back to obtain the results of the biopsy and I received the devastating blow from Dr. Song. It was confirmed that the nodule was metastatic papillary. Then the what if’s started playing in my head, what if I had seen Dr. Bentz sooner, what if I had seen my PCP earlier than I did and then maybe it may have not been so far advanced, or what if we had waited longer to do the RAI ! I could not believe that I was dealing with a recurrence in less than a year’s time. It was only nine months since my TT and four months since RAI. Why did the RAI not work? Dr. Song offered me two options – neck dissection or ethanol alcohol ablation was a new procedure that could be tried. He suggested that I speak with the endocrinologist about it before making a decision. My husband was shocked by all this as well; it was so devastating for both of us!
It looks like we will not be able to get the girls back to the states as Jerome’s company will only pay for travel for him. We just can’t afford plane tickets from Japan to the states right now for them; it is just way too costly for our budget. I guess it is a good thing as they really can’t break from their classes and we need them to take care of the house. Jerome arrived in Utah on 19 February and it was such a relief to see him again as this separation from him has been really hard! I have my better half back with me now and I feel better and not quite so stressed out over everything that has happened; life is always so much better with him around.
The day before my surgery on Feb 21, 2011, I was able to meet up with some old friends from Misawa – Katherine Rollins and her girls, Susan and Christine. That was really wonderful seeing some friendly faces and catching up. They had moved from Misawa when Katherine’s husband retired and are now living in Orem, Utah. They drove up to come and see me before I went under the knife again. Jerome and I went to lunch with them and had a great time reminiscing about the good old times at Misawa. It is amazing to think I have many friends from Misawa that have come back to the states and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to see them again.
The next day was my thyroid surgery on February 22, 2011 at the Huntsman Cancer Hospital. They had me strip down to nothing, I’ve always been curious as to why they do that in surgery. Dr. Bentz came in just before surgery, which was the first time my husband had met him and he was explaining to him about the surgery and what was going to happen. The reality of all that was happening to me finally set in and I would be waking up in a few hours without my thyroid! When they starting wheeling me into the OR area, I don’t remember much after that as the anesthesia started taking its effect on me.
From what I was told the surgery was fairly lengthy as I was in there for over six hours. It was very extensive and very advanced; the surgeon could not get all of it and some tumor was left on my laryngeal nerve. Following surgery, my throat was very sore and dry and they started me out with ice chips and I remember my husband being there in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) with me. After being in the PACU for a while they finally moved me to my room on the 5th floor and I was able to see the rest of my family. It was a bit hard to sleep as they were constantly checking my vitals it seemed like every five minutes. Why must they constantly keep doing that? It seems to me it would be more helpful if they would just let a patient get some sleep instead of bugging them so often. I had two drains in place sticking out my neck, due to having dissections on both sides and the drains had to be stripped quite frequently.
As the anesthesia started wearing off and I was becoming a little more coherent after surgery, I overhead my husband talking with my parents that Dr. Bentz was not able to remove the entire tumor and to hear that really devastated me. However, Dr. Bentz was hopeful that the Radioactive Iodine therapy would take care of what was left over which helped to ease my fears somewhat. The first time I saw my neck after surgery I just about freaked out; I could not believe the huge scar I saw across my neck. I looked like I had a run-in with Jack the Ripper at least in my mind it seemed like that to me.