D Day with the Prof

I must say the advantages of having the same(or at least) similar surgery twice in six months are two fold. Firstly, you know what’s involved and what to expect so it’s easy to be mentally prepared. Secondly, your body must somehow remember, “Hey, I’ve been here, done this and got the T-shirt” and so, recovers more quickly! Even though this surgery was more invasive, I seem to have recovered quicker and more easily than last time.  Today is a bit of a milestone. It’s the last day of my neck stretching exercises and it’s also the day we go back to meet with the Prof.    

I’ve baked Doreen’s Coconut Cake  for Geraldine and everyone at the office. She’s been such a trooper and helped me a whole lot the past few weeks. I always get a bit worried giving someone a whole cake, I mean, it’s not as though you can cut out a test slice and check that it’s fit for human consumption, can you? However, it looks edible enough so I work on the premise that it’s the thought that counts and hand it over anyway.

First things first, the Prof rips (quite literally) the plaster off my scar and inspects his handiwork which he says is healing well. He then replaces it with some flesh coloured micro tape which is gratifyingly much less conspicuous. We (I use the royal “we” here, actually I mean David,) will have to change the tape every 2 to 3 days for the next 3 months. There are no stitches as the wound is glued, it’s pretty cool, but the tape helps the scar heal and kind of keep it together.

 I’m pretty proud of my scar if the truth be told. When I was faced with the first operation, I asked my mum-in-law and sister-in-law to send me a whole heap of scar-ves (ha ha – get it?!) for scar concealment purposes. However, by the time we took the tape off, I was quite emotionally attached to my scar and I didn’t want to keep it under wraps. I know this scar is bigger and it does look as though I’ve had a run in with Sweeney Todd or been involved in some dodgy bar fight, but I’m not inclined to start covering up with scarves. Looking at that scar every day is a reminder of how far I’ve come and how lucky I am. That’s all well and good, but… at the moment, the whole tape thing really quite grosses me out. Plus, it’s pretty difficult to try and tape up your own neck , so for now, I’m happy for David to be the OT (Official Taper.) That man has nerves of steel and he’s taping skills are second to none! Heaven knows he’s had a whole heap of practice!

We then discuss the pathology report in  more detail, the Prof draws us another picture to demonstrate what this type of Cancer looks like. He’s sticking to his prognosis that remains “excellent,” and says that even though this is a different form of papillary cancer it responds to the treatment in the same way. He still thinks my whole story is extraordinary based upon the two quite different diagnoses, the kiddie cancer and my unusual ultrasounds. He’s going to take my case to a multi disciplinary  meeting and will continue to try and solve the mystery. Maybe he’ll write a paper about me (he’s quite prolific – having written over 300!) and I’ll be endocrinologically famous! He’s also filled out the forms for our travel insurance so we can start the ball rolling which is great news.

We talk briefly about the forthcoming treatment, he tells me that I’m now in the care of Anne the Endo who he says will be my “new best friend,” but asks me to come back in three months for a “social visit. “ Fair enough!

So then David and I part company. David goes off to work and I go off to get a blood test to check my calcium levels. If my calcium levels are good, I can drop the dose from four to two torpedoes a day which will be a welcome relief!

Later in the afternoon, I can’t help but read through the pathology report again. I know this is really a pointless exercise, as it’s quite a lengthy document (5 pages to be precise) and it’s full of medical jargon I don’t understand. Besides, the details are irrelevant I guess, it ‘s the diagnosis and prognosis that are the most important and the prof has explained these very clearly. I’m a big believer in the theory that “curiosity killed the cat” when it comes to researching your own illness on the internet. I mentioned before, how I scoured the internet during my last run in with cancer and scared myself half to death. I guess as a lay person, one is not qualified enough to sift through all the information to find the relevant and most up to date facts. In my experience, this has always done more harm than good. However, isn’t it a bit of one of those moral dilemmas? It’s like someone leaving their diary open in front of you, you know you shouldn’t look… but you just can’t help yourself!

As it is, I’m home alone and am at somewhat of a loose end, so against my better judgement, I decide to google my new kiddy cancer. I’ve got a notoriously short attention span so just go for the article that has the most jazzy title. Within minutes, I’ve tortured myself and sent myself into apoplexy reading that this type of cancer is more resistant to treatment and has higher mortality rates. It’s a completely different prognosis to the prof! Aaargh! I start plutzing big time and send my stress levels rocketing into orbit.

I figure I have two choices; I can drive myself up the wall and over the other side with worry,  or I can email the prof and ask him for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I go for the prof-erred option!  But, I’m emailing a bit with my tail between my legs here, because by searching on the internet in the first place, aren’t I kind of doubting his medical knowledge and expertise?  Anyway, I write and tell him about what I read, asking which is the real  prognosis, the internet version or his? He replies within the hour, telling me to beware of what I read on the internet because a lot of the research is quite old and outdated. Also, some doctors think my type of cancer presents badly because it looks more widespread as it forms in those little strands I guess, and not one concentrated lump or tumour. However, he tells me, recent data shows that this type of cancer responds just like regular papillary thyroid cancer and is still included in with the good prognosis cancers. There are so called poorly differentiated cancers and they  tend to have a poorer prognosis but that’s not what I’ve got. He attaches  some up to date research from a recent oncology journal explaining it all. My mind is at rest. Lesson learned. The only internet  surfing I’m going to do from now on is for retail therapy, recipe research or holiday booking purposes. And, yeah, if you’re wondering, that’s the reason why I’m not naming and shaming my cancer on the blog or blinding you with it’s scientific name.  We’re all in this together and we’re working on a need to know basis. We have all the info we need! And that’s all you need to know!