Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Annus horribilis or the Big C

I don't think the Queen would mind me borrowing that phrase from her, do you? The year 2010, Annus horribilis for JMB!

For almost all of 2010 I have been keeping this blog alive by posting only for Photo Hunt, well most weeks, just so you would know I am still around. But no, it's not been a good year for me so far and it went downhill almost from the beginning. I couldn't bring myself to write about it here before but it's starting to be more in perspective for me and it's easier to do so, looking back to the beginning from where I am now.

Thyroid cancer. Yes I have thyroid cancer. What started out as an attack of acute thyroiditis in January, such that I could not swallow or even breathe without pain, after months of various tests and an eventual biopsy, was diagnosed as thyroid cancer. Antibiotics relieved the original symptoms, but fortunately the testing went on, for what had been misdiagnosed as a multi-nodule goitre six years before, a fairly common occurrence, turned out to be a much more serious and by now very large papillary thyroid cancer.

Now people, even one doctor I know, throw around cliches like: If you are going to have cancer, Thyroid cancer is the best one to get. 97% curable. No worries. Oh? But 3% do die of it and at my age, with it now being 5cm in size and filling one lobe of the gland completely, that percentage increases to something closer to 50%. Do you know how many people telephoned me to ask did I see the article in the Globe and Mail about Thyroid cancer which suggested "wait and see" rather than immediate intervention? Oh they meant well and were trying to be encouraging I know, but it was hard to grit my teeth and not explode. That is a general article and each case is specific and different!

By this time it was early May and surgery was obviously necessary and fairly quickly. Now what would we do without surgeons? Those wonderfully skilled doctors with the latest techniques and equipment who love to solve problems and perform miracles with their scalpels. Yes they are great, saving many lives and neatly solving medical issues, even if half of them seem to have slept through How to deal with Patients 101. They have never met you before and in one relatively short appointment, they sit before you and, doing their due diligence of course, lay out all the things that will happen to you plus all the things that could possibly go wrong. Any questions? they ask as they sail out the door, leaving you stunned and spluttering. Oh and here, sign the consent form before you leave and we'll get the ball rolling. See you in the OR (operating room)! My own doctor said he was the best thyroid surgeon in town, so as long as that was true and he did his job, I could deal with the rest.

Yes surgeons are incredibly busy people, always in a rush and in a teaching hospital, as was this one, they are surrounded by students who get to examine you as well and poke and prod at your already sore neck. Well only one student that particular day, so I do exaggerate a little. He also repeated the phrase, "at your age" so often, that I felt like Methuselah by the end of it all. He reiterated how serious it was because of my age and how aggressive they were going to be in treatment, with a complete thyroidectomy only the beginning. And how true that statement has been.

Now this particular surgeon has the best medical secretary I have ever encountered. I do hope he appreciates what a gem he has for she was a pleasure to deal with and incredibly efficient and informative. The one caveat she repeated over and over was: you could always be bumped by a more urgent case, although she said you are pretty urgent yourself. So I was scheduled for June 2nd, coming to the hospital on the morning of the surgery and spending two nights in the hospital, post surgery.

Next time, the surgical experience. No, you don't have to read along. I'll forgive you if you skip the details, but it is a bit therapeutic for me to lay it out here now, so you have to forgive me for writing about it.


Anonymous said...

I did wonder why you only posted Photo Hunt only this year. I am sorry that you have had such a bad year. I do hope the second half will turn better for you.

I assume that you will need some form of chemotherapy after the operation but I will await the details in the next post. I wish you a full recovery and will be praying for you dear JMB.

Sarabeth said...

I will read every word.

Berni said...

I had noticed that you weren't posting much any more but neither was I. I am sorry that you have had to deal with this and hope things will be better from now on. Certainly it must help to write about it and who knows who else will read it who will be helped.

CherryPie said...

I am so sorry you are suffering with this. I am wishing you well with all your treatment.

I am sure it will be therapeutic to blog about it.

jams o donnell said...

Oh my God, I'm so sorry to hear about this. I hope that you are responding to treatment.

Take care and best wishes for a speedy recovery

Ian said...

I had missed your posts, but just guessed that like myself you didn't get the time any more.
I hope that your treatment has gone well/ is going well and that you make a full recovery.

Shades said...

JMB, I empathise with you and I wish you a speedy recovery.

It looks like I might have something wrong with my innards as well (which whilst being much less serious than yours still carries risk) so I share your anxiety.

Carver said...

Dear JMB,

I have been worried when you didn't post on photohunters and then would be relieved when you did. I have of course noticed that you haven't been posting except for that and hoped you were alright. I am so sorry you are dealing with cancer and hope you will post about it when you feel like it.

People mean well but they can be very annoying. I wish people could know enough to listen and I hope your friends will understand it's not helpful to you to be given irrelevant information to your situation.

Know that you are very much in my heart and my good thoughts are going out for you. I hope you will blog as much as feels right about whatever you want to.

As ever, Carver

jmb said...

Thanks to all of you, my blogging friends, for commenting and leaving good wishes here.

I am doing quite well for now and recovering from the last round of treatment.

More to come in this saga.

YTSL said...

Hi jmb --

I did a Google search for "Photo Hunt" + Alive -- and instead of coming up with an Alive-themed Photo Hunt entry from you, I came across this instead. Oh dear -- I'm so sorry to learn about your condition. I myself have been having health problems (though no where as serious as yours). I sincerely hope that you will be able to overcome the Big C and get well soon.

And I truly hope that your not posting a Photo Hunt entry this week is just because you need to temporarily rest rather than anything else more serious.