Final pathology report

This morning, my oncologist's nurse called me with the final pathology report from the University of Pennsylvania. She was kind enough to read it to me. It states that there is a "focus of probable vascular invasion that cannot be completely confirmed due to specimen quality". This means there is an area where my tumor seems to have invaded the bloodstream, although the pathologist couldn't say for absolutely certain as the tumor sample is not of high enough quality (probably due to normal breakdown in storage).

I thought images might help you understand what's going on with my cancer. Sometimes it helps to have a visual so that the implications of these nuances of diagnosis can be better understood.

This is what normal thyroid tissue looks like under a microscope. Notice how organized and well defined the little capsules of thyroid tissue are:


Now here is what papillary carcinoma, follicular variant looks like under the microscope. Notice how poor the organization is. The cells all look a little different and they interact differently. They don't have much "respect" for the cell next to them.

This is what "capsular invasion" looks like under a microscope. The tumor is on the right, and you can plainly see how a "mushroom" of cancerous cells has broken through the membrane surrounding the tumor and is starting to compress the normal tissue along the left side of the image.


This is what it looks like when a tumor invades the bloodstream. Notice the round follicles of cancerous tissue in the white space of the blood vessel:

Today I am thanking the Lord that I do not have the much more dangerous medullary or anaplastic types of thyroid cancer. I am praying the pathologist is wrong and there has been no vascular invasion. Today is my "cancer day" of the week. In order to preserve my hope and faith, I set aside one day a week to deal with cancer: make appointments, talk to doctors, do research online and review and organize information for upcoming visits. I can't stand to do it piece-meal, with a little bit every day. It is better to let it completely fill one day, and save the others for more enjoyable pursuits. So today I read, learn, talk about cancer; today I am a cancer patient. So that tomorrow I can be a mom, wife, daughter, friend again! With joy.