Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

Some days I just can’t stand any more. (more…)

Are you blessed?  Do you ever feel the weight of those blessings?  I’m very blessed but sometimes it feels like a problem.  Or like the weight bar in the picture below, crushing me underneath.


We interrupt my road trip to bring you the following important message……

Bill’s (my husband’s) blood work came back showing NO CANCER MARKERS!!!

Other than thanking the Lord and thanking all our friends and family for their prayers and support since the end of last year, what more can or needs to be said?  I want to keep seeing that face for many, many more years.

Monday at 1:30 pm, CST, my husband emerged from his three days of isolation following the ingestion of several  I-131 pills which started the iodine radiation treatment for thyroid cancer; no longer a glow-in-the-dark guy.   An “I-131 Therapeutic Regime” it said at the top of the page of “Instructions for Releasable Patient”, instructions about how not to get radioactivity on anyone else when said patient is released into the world.  Sounds pretty innocuous, doesn’t it, but au contraire, especially when right after taking the pills, the Geiger counter picked up radiation from 6’ away.

The radioactivity leaves the body mainly through the kidneys (i.e. waste products), but a small amount  (how small an amount of radioactivity is OK???) leaves via sweat, spit and so forth.  Unfortunately, those sneaky little pieces of potential badness don’t really obligingly glow in the dark or anywhere else, so it’s tough to see them when trying to clean up any that remain behind, lurking, looking for bodies to glom onto.  Hence, thorough cleaning must be done, but only after the three days of isolation.  Today that time was over; more than over, really, since it was Tuesday at almost noon and his isolation had ended almost 24 hours ago.

I called Nuclear Medicine in the morning and found out how to clean the room, etc. and now it’s all done.  And I do mean all!  I wore gloves and a mask (went through two sets of each so I could reassure my husband that I took all precautions), cleaned every surface and object in the bathroom with the Clorox wipes:  the floor, inside the tub, the shower walls, the toilet, the scale….every single thing. Or as in current parlance ….Every. Single. Thing.

I did the same for the bedroom:  every cord, every magazine, every PlayStation game box, every piece of paper, wastebaskets….well, you get the idea.  The rest of the bedding and the pillow went in garbage bags in the garage, along with the shower curtain.  At the end of a week, we’ll wash what we want washed and pitch the rest.  I wiped the top and sides of the bed (it’s a pad, so we can also toss it if desired) and when I was done vacuuming, I wiped the vacuum, wiped the inside of it and the roller, removed all the fuzz and got rid of the vacuum bag, the gloves and the mask in another garbage bag.  Believe me when I tell you that room is clean.  It’s also aired out because I had the window open and the door shut the entire time. Take THAT, nasty radioactive particles!!

The clothes he’s worn since Monday at 1:30 pm can be washed regularly and today’s load is done, although I washed them twice and the washer once empty afterwards.  The clothes, sheets, towels, etc. that were used during the three days reside for a week in garbage bags in the garage until they can be washed (the twice-washed routine, followed by a washing for the washer with detergent and hot water but no load.)

So we’re all set for being in that room again, as free of radioactivity as it can possibly be without a haz-mat team coming in.  That was Valentine’s Day.  What valentine or gift could be more precious?  Happy Valentine’s Day, dear.  I love you.

We found out he had thyroid cancer before Christmas, not the gift we were hoping for. A surprise trip to Siberia in winter would have been better. But he was able to be home and the holiday spirit and celebration of Christ’s birth pushed the thought of it somewhat aside for a time.

After Christmas, things moved quickly and time telescoped for me; many trips between Cleveland and Naperville, a surprise few days for the doctor’s appointment and a date set for surgery.

He had his pre-scan Tuesday, follow-up Wednesday and suddenly my phone rang and he let me know the real treatment, the iodine radiation would be today. Wow. I’d just gotten back to Ohio on Saturday and had been running ever since, doing the Bachman-Turner Overdrive thing, “Taking care of business and working overtime.” But that meant I was ready to go, again. Driving through Ohio, Indiana (no bad weather, thankfully) and Illinois to the CD’s of “Stone Cold”, by David Baldacci. The Camel Club rides again, the cancer seemly as ruthless and devious as Carter Grey.

In that case, the radiation can be Oliver Stone/John Carr, assassin extraordinaire, attacking the cancer full on. I like that idea.

When I arrived yesterday, I bought a mop with removable “pads” and some wet wipes and set about cleaning everything my husband might have touched since he was first irradiated. We have lots of latex or non-latex gloves, garbage bags, paper towels and more in our anti-radiation arsenal. Then at 1 pm today, we drove to Edward Hospital and the Nuclear Medicine Department.

Nuclear Medicine. Sounds serious. Is serious. As it’s been every time we were there, everyone is friendly and helpful. There are forms to sign and list of precautions to take.

For him:

Keep 6 feet from others if at all possible.
Don’t let others use your bathroom.
Wash hands often.
Use separate towels, washcloths, toothbrush, dishes and utensils form others in the house. (No problem; I’m the only one.)
Hold clothing and linens for a week before washing them, wash separately from anyone else’s clothes and put them through a second wash/rinse cycle. Run the washer empty with detergent and warm water before using again.
Cover things like your PlayStation control with plastic a/o wear gloves. Or, as my husband decided to do, discard the controller when finished and buy a new one. 🙂
(And so on. Go to work on Tuesday.)

For me:

Keep away from him for at least three days!! (He’s living in the master bedroom and bathroom, while I have the run of the rest of the house.)
Don’t handle anything the patient uses.
No children under 18 around for three days. (No problem.)
Sleep in a separate room. (No worries on that score!)

For us both: Come back in a week to see what’s happened; then hopefully only come back for re-checks periodically.

My part also includes making meals, still low-iodine, low-sodium and are mostly raw vegan. One good side effect has been a ten pound weight loss. Since the thyroid collects iodine, the radiation-carrying iodine gloms onto any thyroid cells left, cancerous or non-cancerous, and the radiation zaps them, killing the cancer cells. But the radiation makes you “hot.” I hope I don’t get up at tonight and see a glow coming under the door from his room like the cancer man on “The X-Files”!!  But I’ve always known my husband was hot and now I know I’m right, on at least two counts!!

My husband has stage 3 papillary thyroid cancer.

There. Does it look or feel any different when down in black and white? I don’t know. How does it really feel? I guess it depends on the day or the time of day. Mornings before I get up and nights before I go to sleep are the most likely times for negative feelings to try to grab me. Daytime is usually busy enough to keep my mind otherwise occupied or at least occupied in positive ways.

Overall, I’m optimistic. I generally am. The statistically odds are greatly in our favor and of all the cancers there are, this seems to be about the “best” one to have if you have to have one. Of course, as with all statistics, there is the fact that a number of someones are the other statistics, the ones that don’t do so well. I choose to believe that my husband will be one of the good statistics, the ones where once the thyroid is gone and treatment completed, the cancer is also gone. And it’s likely to be so.

Sometimes the little niggling thoughts about other scenarios get hold of me, my optimism not quite slick enough that they all just fall away while scrabbling for purchase in my mind. The “what if’s”.

“What if’s” tend to be negative. I take them out, examine them in the cold light of my mostly optimistic mind, pray about them and leave them to the Lord. That’s what He’s there for. I’m here to support my husband and daughters, take care of my part of business and things in two houses, watch the finances and keep my spirits up. That’s enough to keep my occupied. And I’ll be smacking those “what if’s” every time one pops up.