Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was hoping to get a little more information on how this will be affecting my life before I post. I spent my first day back in Columbia talking to various people at work about the findings, crying a bunch, feeling helpless, getting Maggie out of class and going out for a Thai-food lunch (mmm, curry), and of course a road ride with someone who's turning into a great friend.
I'm reluctantly, posting some images of the radio-iodine scan. I say reluctant b/c they're hard to interpret and are normally correlated with a CT-scan. In other words, to figure out some of the anatomy, you look at these images and know that not all of the black is cancer. You can't really tell how much cancer is in there based on these images, the important data these images portray is the location of cancer cells in my body, minus the salivary glands, which normally take up the radiation.
1. Salivary gland tissue (not cancer, it is normal for this tissue to uptake the radiation)
The following dark areas, all represent cancer but I'll say it again: The purpose of these images is to show that they take up radiation, NOT TO DEFINE HOW BIG THEY ARE or HOW MUCH DISEASE IS THERE
2. Place where my thyroid used to be (removed March 2005, the black represents residual, microscopic disease)
3. Tumor in 5th thoracic vertebrae
4. Right Lung w/ tumor
5. Left Lung w/ tumor
Disclaimer: I read the following in a peer reviewed article published in 2008 and more knowledgeable people would probably have a number of caveats so don't take this as written in stone. I'm only sharing the information because it is having a large emotional challenge to me right now. Right now, the only thing that I have learned about how the finding of the bone (vertebrae) metastasis changes things is this: Before the finding of the bone nodule, 85-95% of people with my condition are alive in 10 years. After the finding of the bone nodule, ~40% of people with my condition are alive in 10 years.
Now, statistics when you have cancer, especially ones involving prognosis are very complicated both from an epidemiological view-point and ESPECIALLY a psychological view-point from the perspective of the patient. Ultimately, they are mental hurdles that easily tie the mind into knots and make one feel doomed or not. To an individual, they do mean something, but shouldn't dictate everything. I've really thought quite a bit about statistics like these and would like to take some time to better articulate my perspective on them but right now, my purpose is to help friends and family understand that first, I'm not doomed. And second, I feel a bit doomed and am having a hard time not planning my life around that sort of statistic. Beginning with the process of hearing that statistic and leading up to where I am now, writing, represents a dynamic process; a mental and emotional journey of sorts. I need to feel it. Cry about it. And think about it, but not too much.
The process will continue to evolve in the coming days, weeks, and years. The goal, is to be able to still live my life, truly, from who I am, and just put one foot in front of the other each day. Right now, I'm focusing on the words of Mr Henley and in my reality, hope is not yet here. Right now, I'm in the process of accepting.