The unexpected

God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas. ~ Psalm 146:1-2 (Amp)

Never a good idea to go to an oncologist expecting nothing. Usually the perennial pessimist, I lean toward the 'expect the worst, hope for the best' end of the spectrum. Today, feeling so uplifted and informed by our recent visit with the Chicago specialist, I went to my doctor expecting to hear that I would have an ultrasound and lab tests in April, and my next radioactive iodine uptake scan next November. I borrowed a breast pump yesterday from a friend, and this blissful image kept playing through my mind, despite my best attempts to push it away and ignore even the possibility:


And so I walked in, unaware. And God had to lift me up once again from a crumpled heap. I feel a little deadened today, numb to life, unable to process this level of pain over and over. There is an edge of anger to my thoughts, thoughts that feel like the burned edges of photos salvaged from a fire, singed and scarred. I wonder why God allows us to experience a false height of joy when He see the valley ahead? I trust He has a reason. But today it hurts.

For the sake of illucidating the details of my sad day at the doctor:
1) my lab test shows that the iodine has worked somewhat - it either killed cancer or functioning thyroid, because my hormone replacement is no longer adequate. (This is good news)

2) my cancer is not a slow-growing type, as all the other specialists have reassured me. It grew 1.5 cm in 1 month this spring, prior to being removed. Therefore, we need to be aggressive in treating and monitoring my cancer, at least for the moment.

3) I need my next scan ASAP. I was given two options: a Thyrogen-induced scan, which avoids the physical hardships of withdrawal from my hormone replacement, but costs about $25,000 (a cost of $2,300 for us); or the traditional approach, going off my medications for 6 weeks, followed by a scan and possible treatment (at a cost of about $40 to us). I chose frugally, on the hardship side of things. It is a hard day to be frugal.

4) My scan will be in late March. I will not be able to resume breastfeeding, because I would just have to stop again for 58 days following the scan dose. It isn't worth the trouble. I will have to be away from home for 5 days total surrounding the I-131 dose for the uptake scan.

5) My endocrine oncologist here in Eau Claire continues to think there is a high likelihood that I will require a second ablation, which means another 17 day separation from my kids and husband and just - life. Ugh.