About a week after surgery was the post-op visit to remove the stitches and I saw one of the residents for that and it was about a week later on Jan 3, 2012 that I followed up with Dr. Song. He explained that all that was found on the pathology was nothing but scar tissue; he felt that it was lying on top of the laryngeal nerve under very extensive scar tissue, as he had explained to me while I was in the hospital. So now the plan is to rescan me again two months to see what that shows. I really have to commend Dr. Song as he did a remarkable job using the original incision for the second neck dissection. The current scar is much smaller than the original scar and now you can hardly even tell. I must admit that I have some pretty talented surgeons!
One major downside is that he has restricted me to only light cardio for two weeks. Are you freaking kidding me? I was able to go back to the gym much sooner the last time when I had the first surgery. I really don’t like it when people mess with my gym time/activity, my family knows all too well just how unpleasant I can be when that happens! He says that it is for my own protection, to prevent any internal bleeding from occurring. I guess I will go along with it even though I am NOT happy about it! Really, what choice do I have? However, I don’t need any more complications. When someone is used to running nearly every day and then you have to suddenly stop running that is a hard pill to swallow, it was like telling me not to breathe. The next two weeks watching others run was really hard and I wanted to run so badly I could just taste it. When I finally was able to run, that felt so awesome, like the best run I’ve ever had and now it feels good to be back in the game!
I don’t believe that reality had truly hit me yet that I have Stage 4 cancer. When Dr. Bentz had explained the pathology to me I must have had that deer in the headlights mentality in my head and was just stunned and didn’t think to press him for more questions. I had more time to think and contemplate on what Dr. Bentz had explained. Now, I started thinking to myself how in the world am I going to survive a Stage 4 cancer? Everything I have ever heard about an advanced stage of cancer was not good, but the reality right now is that I have to remember to just take a deep breath and take this one step at a time and not worry myself with the what if scenarios just yet.
They sent me home with one drain in place and I had to strip the drains and record the amount of fluid which was draining. It was a bit awkward having this drain pinned to me, but I managed to deal with it. In addition, when I was discharged I no longer had to follow the non-fat diet and I consider myself pretty fortunate as I know other people have not been so lucky and have required further surgery to correct the issue with a Chyle leak.
I had ice packs on my neck which really helped with the pain and the swelling. I saw the doc about ten days later on March 2, 2011, to get the drain taken out and received the final pathology report. I was told by Dr. Bentz that I had Stage IVA Papillary Thyroid cancer with Follicular Variant. It was partially encapsulated as it was not completely contained in the thyroid and extended into the lymph nodes. They had removed over fifty-eight lymph nodes with nineteen of them being positive for cancer! I also had evidence of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which I would not learn until much later down the road. The surgeon said that it was very aggressive and then informed me that External Beam Radiation may be required to totally eradicate this, but that RAI (Radioactive Iodine treatment) would be tried first. Please make a note that I will avoid External Beam like the plague – I believe that there are too many more risks involved with that which I am not sure that I would be willing to take; however, it would have to be the very last option for me!