The day before Christmas Eve in 2019, I found a lump in my breast while taking a shower. This lump was near the top of my skin and it felt like it was the size of a quarter. It felt hard and a little squishy and it did hurt a bit. I actually had been complaining about breast pain for months, with my doctors basically telling me that it was all in my head. Well, now I have proof that it wasn’t. :/
I didn’t tell anyone what I found as I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s Christmas holiday. I believe that I waited until December 26th to set up a doctor’s appointment to have it looked at. After that appointment, then it was time for an ultrasound and biopsy.
The biopsy was done in the hospital. The area around the lump was cleaned and numbed. I can’t remember how many needle pricks there were. First, a topical numbing agent was used and then the needle with more numbing stuff went in deeper. The tech used a straw/barrel looking device to take some core samples. I think they did two or three. After that, they … [more to come when I have time]
Here’s something that you probably done as a child – gently pull out your eyelids and then press in the center to turn your eyelids inside out. The red flesh over your eye looked creepy, so you’d show off your look to a friend or sibling and they would run away screaming.
Awhile back, I thought that I had something in my eye. No matter how much eye drops I squirted in my eye, nothing seemed to dislodge whatever was in there. Worried that I might have something lodged in my eye, I visited an eye doctor. When he couldn’t find anything in my eye, he flipped my eyelids inside out. From there, he put some numbing drops in my eye and then took a small spoon looking thing and scrapped my eyelid. He told me that I had some conjunctival concretion on there. He said that most people have these little yellow ball things in their eyelid, but usually they either don’t bother people or they fall out on their own. He likened it to “kidney stones for your eyes.”
I googled photos of this when I got home. If you wear mascara, it can cause the inner eyelid to be dark. Kinda gross when it’s mixed with the conjunctival concretion.
Alright, kind of gross, but when this happened to me, I could only find scary reasons why there might be blood in my stool. I just wanted folks to know that there could be a non-scary reason for having blood in your stool occasionally. (Of course, definitely mention this to your doctor!)
From my own experience, and from what the doctor told me, I have both an external hemorrhoid and an internal hemorrhoid. If you don’t drink enough water each day – 1500 to 2000 ml a day, your bowel movements can irritate and inflame the internal hemorrhoid, causing it to bleed.
This hemorrhoid irritation and bleeding can also be caused if you aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables every day too (most people should strive for 2-3 servings of each every day).
Thus, I’ve upped my fruit and veggie intake and I drink more water. I use an app to track my water intake, to make sure that I’m drinking enough.
So far, so good. I haven’t had a problem since, but it took a couple of days for my body to adjust to my updated diet. The doctor stated that this issue can happen to folks most often when they are on vacation, as folks don’t keep the same eating schedule or diet when traveling.
The other week, I had forgotten about my lab for blood work and ultrasound appointment and missed it. Oops. I spotted it only because I had to check my calendar for something else. I immediately re-made the appointment, but I couldn’t have all this done at the medical center that specializes in these types of ultrasounds. My new appointment was to be done at a different medical center instead.
I had my blood drawn into one tube instead of the typical 2-3 in the past. For the ultrasound, the technician spent a lot of time on the right side of my neck and not so much on the left side. (The left side is where this unknown mass could be growing). That appointment took around 30 minutes. I left telling the technician that I’m expecting the mass to either stayed the same size or gotten a little bigger, but no big deal either way.
A couple days later, I received a notification that some of my test results were available online. I took a screen shot and sent it to my husband after I read it. It said
Findings: Previous thyroidectomy. The previously noted nodule is the left thyroid bed is no longer identified. There are normal-sized fatty centered lymph nodes in both sides of the neck.
Conclusion: No evidence to suggest recurrent malignancy.
Yay! No more cancer!
Now for the results of my blood work
UFree T4 is 1.2 ng/dL (Standard range is 0.7-1.5 ng/dL) and TSH, Sensitive is 0.13 ulU/mL (Standard range is 0.30-4.50 ulU/mL)
To help prevent cancer, I am (trying) to eat less sugar, as medical experts say that cancer loves sugar and is fed by it. Gross. I gave up soda a years ago, so that’s not a problem. But when I see those doughnuts and cakes…yummy.
Eek, it’s been awhile since I posted, so let’s catch up. 🙂
About three years later, the scar is faint…surprisingly, as I never took the best care of it. So for those who have busy lives, your scarring may be similar to mine. As a mom, you take care of everyone else and not really yourself.
Twice a year I’ve had my blood drawn and ultrasounds on my neck done to make sure that the thyroid cancer is indeed gone. Well, one spot that’s left over from that surgery hasn’t really gone away. It shrank for a bit, but now it may be growing again. I’m hoping it was because I had a bad cold during that ultrasound, and that area was just effected by that. So the doctor rescheduled me for new blood work and a new ultrasound for later this month.
I had told my doctor to just go in and remove it, but she said that it’s too small yet. I had also asked if the surgeon could just go through the side of my neck instead of re-opening the scar, but she said they can’t do that as other important body parts are in the way. (I can’t remember what exactly she said, but that’s pretty much it).
Now because my hands were a little shaky still and I wasn’t sleeping well, the doctor lowered by dose of levothyroxine. It took a few weeks to a month, but I started sleeping better after that. I appreciated no more hand shakiness since I shoot hand-held video cameras from time to time.
Yay! I got my results back and I seem to be fine for now. There still is weird growth or whatever in a left gland. I wish that they would just take it out. I have made this request before. With all the other surgeries that I’ve had, I’m getting covered in scars…so what’s one more?
Anyway, I’m just going to copy & paste my results here –
INDICATION: Thyroid carcinoma post thyroidectomy
TECHNIQUE: 2.4 mCi I-123 was ingested by the patient, and 24-hour neck uptake
and whole body planar imaging performed.
FINDINGS: 24-hour uptake is 0.7% in the region of the neck, equivalent to
background levels and decreased from 1.3% previously. No evidence of recurr entor metastatic thyroid cancer. Activity in the nasopharynx, salivary glands,stomach, colon, and urinary bladder from normal routes of iodine excretion.
Activity in the left parotid gland remains somewhat asymmetrically prominent.Faint radio tracer uptake about the knees consistent with synovitis.
If you’re a woman like me, and if you’re going through this health issue, you’ll want to know this stuff. If you’re a guy, you’re either curious or grossed out. If you’re the latter, you can stop reading now. I’ll get into the spoiler in the next paragraph.
One thing that your doctor may not tell you is that when your Levothyroxine (or whatever your thyroid medication is called) is changed, this can affect your menstruation cycle for a month or two. Usually, you’ll be a few days late. This is normal.
Now if you lucky (ha!) enough to go through a I-123 whole body scan, you may spot between a period because you’ll have two things against you – the two thyrogen injections and an iron deficiency. The iron deficiency would be the main reason for the spotting though, because when you’re on an low-iodine diet, the diet is restrictive so you aren’t getting all the iron you need. And you might not be able to take vitamins during this low-iodine diet either. (I didn’t take any iron pills or vitamins during my bland, boring diet since I can’t be sure that their ingredients weren’t tainted by soy, iodine, etc).
The good news is that once you start taking iron pills and/or your vitamins again, the spotting will stop. (Of course, since I have no idea what all your health conditions are, you’ll need to speak with your doctor about iron pills and vitamins).
From the last post, I mentioned that my doctor was concerned with some blood draw results, since I have an odd unknown thing on the left side of my neck. She said that the next step was for me to have the I-123 whole body scan to make sure no thyroid cancer cells started growing anywhere.
Starting on a Monday, I began the low-iodine diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables, homemade bread, pasta, gluten-free dark chocolate, no sodium ground turkey, and no sodium chicken. I marked my weight being 123.4 lbs. For the first week, I felt fine. But that Sunday, I felt incredibly hungry. I found that a local grocery store carried gluten-free and other special diet foods so that helped. Unlike last time where I lost a lot of weight, the most that I lost this time was 3.6 lbs.
The food was a bit bland at times, as dairy, stuff with sea salt, lots of meat, certain beans, and etc was prohibited. You’d be surprised at how much food has milk, soy, and is probably made with iodine salt. All were big no-no’s on this diet. The lack of a variety of tasty food made me tired for the nearly two weeks that I was on this diet. Besides work, nothing else really got done.
That following Monday, there were medical appointments each day, at approximately at the same time as the previous one. The first two days consisted of one Thyrogen 0.9 mg IM injection. These shots are to make me hypothyroid – so, tired and slow.
Oh, you get these shots in your ass. Just so you know. Just in case you usually go commando most days. But the nurses probably don’t care
The third day was going to the labs for blood and then taking ten sodium iodide I-123 capsules. I was surprised that it was only ten this time. Wasn’t it twenty last time? Also different was how they were packaged. Instead of metal canisters, these pills were in a single thick plastic canister. Inside this canister was a funnel looking thing that held the pills. I could pick out a few easily, but when I tried to bang the rest out, several fell on the floor. I apologized and the medical attendant picked them off the floor and handed them to me, asking if I needed more water. Since I was given a single 8 oz bottle of water, I said yes. And I asked if taking the pills off the floor was okay. The medical attendant said, “five second rule,” and then left to give me another small bottle of water.
You probably don’t know this about me, but I’m a bit of a germaphobe. It drives my husband crazy at times. So, I’m staring at these pills, wondering if I really need to take them. What could a few missing ones hurt? Since the attendant left, I could toss them and he wouldn’t know. But I figured that since I received half the amount than last time, I probably should take these. But it was a struggle. I tried to wipe this pills off the best I could without accidentally opening them. And then I swallowed them, finishing off the first water bottle. Ugh. So gross.
The fourth day was the whole body scan. I had to stay still for about an hour while the machine scanned me. It was nice to have the heated blanket covering me. I should have asked for the plastic splints or whatever they are called to help keep my arms at my side. After awhile of trying to stay completely still, my arms felt weird and week. Oh, and if I have to do this again, I’ll ask to have my phone play music somewhere above my head. It gets a bit boring when you’re the only one in the room and you aren’t allowed to move for an hour.
But once the scan is over, it’s time to eat normally again! It was the highlight of the two weeks. I’m sure that I annoyed many people with my wish list of all the food that I was going to eat once I could eat whatever I wanted again. I think I gained back that 3.6 lbs that same day. So proud. And I’m not even kidding.
That Friday saw me back at the labs for more blood work so that they can check my thyroglobulin levels.
I’ll write about the results of all these fun tests in the next posting.
Before my upcoming appointment with my endocrinologist, I had to have my blood drawn for thyroid testing – TSH and Free T4. A few days later, my results came back good. My TSH was 0.01 ulU/ml with the Standard Range being 0.30-4.5 0.01 ulU/ml and Free my T4 being 1.3 ng/dl out of a Standard Range of 0.7-1.5 ng/dl.
As in the last post, the weird growth was stable. But something spooked my doctor and she urged that I prepare myself for another whole body scan…and that dreaded low iodine diet. Well, seeing that I should be at 115 for my size, but I’m at 125 now, I guess it’s probably a good thing. Grrr…
Good news – Ghirardelli now makes dark chocolate chips that are processed on a non-diary, non-nut, and a non-soy facility. Yay! No iodine worries there. I wonder if I could survive on a diet of this and red wine for those 7-10 diet days.
One of the questions people ask before and after having their cancerous thyroids removed is when will that thick red ugly scar go away. I guess it depends on how healthy you are, if you cover the area with fabric and/or sun screen, and how healthy you eat. Well, I kinda fail at all of that.
I had surgery to remove my thyroid cancer back in March 2016. Someone told me to pinch and rub the scar between my thumb and finger to loosen the fibers to prevent scarring. I think that I tried that, but it felt very weird and painful. I didn’t really worry too much about covering it, and I might have put sun screen on a handful of times. My scar is still present today, although it had faded much. (See photo). This scar fading took nearly two years. I’ll guess that by the end of 2018, the scar should be even lighter in color or perhaps faded into a white line. (I have other surgery scars that are several years old that are a fine white line).