Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thyrogen Scan

I ended up having a busy week at work, which cuts into my lunchtime and breaktime and therefore blogging time... say it ain't so!

But I did schedule my THYROGEN SCAN!!!

Yep, that's right people, the good doctor is going to let me get thyrogen injections to raise my TSH instead of withdrawing from my thyroid hormone. PRAISE JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH AND ALL THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN. I've never been so happy in my life to get a shot.

See, with thyroid cancer, they remove the thyroid and the offending tumor. Your levels of thyroid hormone begin to fall, which slows your metabolism and pretty much everything else in your body down. Since your body can't live without thyroid hormone, all systems are on minimum function, RED ALERT!!! Your pituitary gland starts pumping out thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) like crazy trying in vain to stimulate your missing thyroid to do it's job... but since there is no thyroid, the TSH just keeps rising and conditions in your body keep getting worse. That's prime time to do a radioiodine scan of your body to see where any remaining cancer cells might be (like in the lymph nodes, lungs or bone) because any remaining thyroid cells are trying frantically to make thyroid hormone. When your TSH is high, any remaining thyroid cells are getting tons of stimulation and are hungry for iodine to start do their job. The thyroid is the main storehouse of iodine in the body; it uses iodine to carry out its functions. You follow a low-iodine diet and then ingest radioactive iodine, or RAI, and all those thyroid cells - cancerous or otherwise - soak up that poison like a thirsty camel in the desert. And, of course, they die!

And that, boys and girls, is how we cure cancer.

It takes about a year for the cells to all die and get mopped up by your immune system. It's been a year for me now, so it's time for my follow up scan, where I will allow my TSH to rise, follow a low-iodine diet and then take a very small dose (a tracer dose) of RAI. Then I'll get a scan to see if there are any metastases or leftover bits that didn't get nuked the first time around.

If it's clean, I go to "monitoring" status - official remission - for the rest of my life. If there are mets, I get another whopping dose of RAI.

Now, for cases like mine (caught early, no detectable mets at treatment), some endocrinologists let patients take injections of this drug called thyrogen, which, by some magical properties having to do with bovine TSH or something equally dreadful sounding, raises my TSH temporarily without me having to withdraw from my hormones in a horrible process that takes six weeks to complete and equally as long to recover from. It's not 100% sure to allow stimulation of all offending cells. Withdrawal is more certain. But my endo decided my case is unthreatening enough to warrant the thyrogen.

So that will be on the 14th of March, a Friday. I get a shot on Monday, another on Tuesday and take the RAI dose on Wednesday. Then I'm radioactive and have to follow the safety procedures until after my scan on Friday.

I can't wait to get the good news!

1 comment:

Spirophita said...

Yeah!!! So happy to hear the good news!! :)

You are so brave!

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