Several months ago, in the early spring, my mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The diagnosis caught everyone completely off guard. Her doctor decided to remove the cancer through surgery, removing the growth, her thyroid and two of her parathyroid glands in the hopes of nipping everything in the bud and getting her to feeling good again.
My mom had felt pretty unwell for years. She suffered general fatigue, aches, pains, depression, the list goes on. Her doctor explained that most of her symptoms could actually be erased or greatly improved after surgery.
The surgery went well, she was given pills and told to expect to feel leaps and bounds better in just a few short weeks.
That didn’t happen.
Routine blood work looked fine, but she wasn’t feeling any better at all. An ultrasound was done on her surgery site that revealed what looked like thyroid tissue.
Strange, since the doctor supposedly removed it all. The technician specifically said that it looked like thyroid tissue, not a tumor. That made me wonder if it was possible that some tissue had been left behind and was regrowing.
The doctor said that was impossible, he didn’t miss anything. How great it must be to be so certain of yourself! Sorry, don’t trip over that chunk of sarcasm.
What he decided to do next was to have her take a simple radioactive pill that would kill any remnants of the cancer that may be lingering. He explained it as so simple, no big deal, which put my mom at ease, but when I hear “radioactive pill”, well, my mind was not at ease.
I ended up doing something I knew I shouldn’t. I Googled it. Yeah, I went there.
What I found was that this was no simple little pill that you take and then blissfully continue with your regular activities. This pill, being radioactive, is very dangerous. In fact, one of the side affects from taking it is cancer. She will need to basically be quarantined, kept away from other people for a period of time. Simply being near small children can actually give them leukemia. This is no simple pill, this is a scary treatment that my mother was led to believe would be as easy as swallowing two aspirins.
I cautiously asked her more, to get a feeling for what she knew about the treatment. Her doctor literally told her nothing. I told her the bits and pieces that didn’t sound overwhelmingly scary, just to give her an idea of what she could expect, something her doctor should have done.
She talked to one of her friends that has family members that went through this treatment. Her friend was not as good at filtering the scary bits I chose not to tell my mom. This, rightly so, had her scared.
She called me crying, scared of the treatment, scared of the side affects, scared of being toxic to her loved ones. She was worried about her dog, her little Bichon mix that is attached to her hip. She worried that if she had to board him in a kennel that it would kill him. I did my best to calm her down and explain to her that at worst, my dad and brother would have to step up and help take care of the dog and to keep the house running. She would only need to be shut off in her room alone for several days before she could start slowly getting things back to normal.
It would be a few weeks before she could see the kids, but I assured her that she could still talk on the phone and that she should look at her treatment as a mini vacation. It seems only fair that she get waited on and taken care of when she is the one always doing that for others.
I encouraged her to call the doctor’s office, to explain that she would like to talk about her treatment as it had her worried. Obviously, she was hoping they would be able to hold off treatment until after the holidays, since she would have to be isolated for a while.
Last week, she met with the doctor that will be treating her. They gave her outdated papers and brochures to read in the waiting room that made her worry more. When she finally sat down with the doctor, he was very kind and very good at explaining the treatment. He told her that her dog would not be affected by the radiation. I don’t believe this. In fact, I have read many things to the contrary. But her dog is old and not well, and when he told her that he could still be around her during the isolation, that gave her happiness and hope, so my mouth stayed shut.
She needs to have two shots prior to the pill that will reverse the affects of the medications she has been taking since her surgery. The doctor said that they will make her more fatigued, sore, and depressed. Just what you want right before you have a big treatment like this.
The shots are crazy expensive, something like $2400 per shot. They have to be pre approved through the insurance and everything, just like the pill, before they can even be ordered. Luckily, my parents have decent insurance coverage, so hopefully the out of pocket cost won’t be too astronomical.
So the radioactive pill will be taken in January. I joked with my mom that maybe she would get super powers. I thought that was hilarious, so did Abe, but my mom was less amused.
What I hope is that this pill will do it’s job, that my mom will have minimal if any side affects, and that she will then be on the path to good health. It’s scary to think of her ever not being here. She has too many grand babies that need spoiling!