Opinion: Column: Time Will Tell

Opinion: Column: Time Will Tell

Nearly three weeks into my low iodine diet, in preparation for my hospital overnight on May 28 when I will get my radioactive iodine therapy, to be followed immediately by a medical quarantine at home for a week, I wouldn't say I'm thriving. More like persevering. I can't really satiate eating "rabbit" food, and what culinary pleasures I can enjoy, I can only have them in small quantities and infrequently at that. I won't give you a list, but just consider what any 10-year-old likes to eat.

As you might imagine, I've lost some weight. Granted, it was weight I could afford to lose. And though I'm not exactly a shell of my former self, I am hardly the man I once was. Nevertheless, as my friend Frank would say: "I'm in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in." And the shape I'm in, and the diet I'm following and all the medical appointments I'm going on is to find and kill my remaining papillary thyroid cancer, the 15% or so the otolaryngologist was unable to get to on my Jan. 29th thyroidectomy.

The purpose of this treatment/activity is to locate and simultaneously eradicate the papillary thyroid cancer tumors still in my body. And since papillary thyroid cancer is called the "friendly cancer" because it is generally curable, I'm not worried about the outcome of all that I've described. However, there is an associated element to this treatment which is more important and potentially life changing.

It's possible, according to my oncologist, that my lung cancer tumors may in medical fact, be thyroid cancer tumors. Not unusual, since cancer often moves throughout the body. So on paper, one can have thyroid cancer in the lungs. The thyroid cancer treatment I'm presently undergoing will be the final determination on whether the tumors in my lungs are actually thyroid cancer which migrated or still lung cancer. If the tumors are identified as lung cancer, then all goes along much as it has for the past 11 years. However, if the tumors are identified as thyroid cancer, and they are all eliminated by this procedure, then a new day has dawned

and life will indeed go on, much as it hasn't since late February, 2009 when I was first diagnosed.

And though I've just written it, it's really too much to consider. After living on an emotional precipice since receiving a "13-month to two-year" prognosis 11-plus years ago, the thought of living a non-cancer-centric life/return to normal life expectancy is disjointing almost. To say it would change everything minimizes the word "change." "Change" would barely describe the effect. I'd be reborn almost, with an entirely new lease on life.

It's what all "terminal" patients dare not dream: the miracle cure, the medical mix-up, the you're-free-to-go sendoff.

It's early days though, and premature until I'm told otherwise. And "otherwise" will be told sometime in early June when I will have had my post-thyroid-treatment CT scan and then the follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist who will explain the findings. Only after learning these details and then discussing them with my oncologist will I know what the future holds.

Right now, my future is a cut-up apple, a four-ounce burger for dinner with no bread or cheese, some kind of vegetable, unsalted kettle potato chips, (thank God for them) and no dessert. To say this list compares favorably to my pre-low-iodine diet is the understatement of the year. The overstatement of the year is that come early June, I'm likely to be cancer-free.