Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Capillary Thyroid Carcinoma – Part 1 of 4 - Diagnosis

What I’m about to post now and over the next several days is known to only a few people. I kept it a secret because I recently retired and didn’t want to become the subject of one of those “poor bastard” stories, if things went south…

About 7 years ago my step daughter and I were in a car accident while I was driving her to school. As a result, I ended up with two herniated discs in my neck.  I went to physical therapy for a while, and stopped when I reached maximum improvement. That was their term, not mine.

Fast forward, six years…

Early last year, my neck muscles seemed to morph into re-bar, so I started PT again. They sent me for an MRI, to see if there was further deterioration of the discs. When the results came back I was told that there were a couple of spots on, or in my thyroid gland, and referred me to my GP.  They suggested that I go right away.

My GP looked at the MRI and said there was something there that wasn’t supposed to be. He sent me for some blood work and an ultrasound. The tests revealed that I had 2 tumors in my thyroid gland.

My family doctor then referred me to an endocrinologist. He tells me not to sweat it; nodules (tumors) are very common in the thyroid. He will have to biopsy them, but the odds are very small that they are malignant.

He took eight needle biopsies and sent me home. I don’t want to skip the part about how it felt. He said it wouldn’t hurt at all, only pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the guy, but what he told me was pure bullshit wasn’t exactly true.

A week later, I went back for the results. When the Doctor came into the examination room, he sat down, shook his head, and started talking. 

“What I have to say isn’t exactly bad news, its gray.”
“Gray? What the heck does that mean?” 
“Gray means that all eight biopsies came back inconclusive.”
“Okay, now what?”
“You need your thyroid removed.”
“I thought you said the biopsies were inconclusive?"
“They were, but we don’t want to take a chance, the tumors could be malignant.”
“So it’s not really gray news after all, is it? It’s bad news!”
“They probably aren’t, but if they are, we want to get your thyroid out right away.”
“How is this not bad news?”
“Even if it is malignant, if you have to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one you want. The odds are very much against it being malignant. Once they take it out, a full biopsy will be performed.”
“That really makes me feel a lot better," I lied.

He must have noticed my sarcasm, because he left me with the following information.
"On the scale of complicated surgeries, if brain surgery is a 10, and removing a cyst from your butt is a 1, thyroid removal is only about a 6 or 7."

Part 2 coming soon...


  1. I'm sorry to hear this, Pat. Surgery is never good news, even if the chances of cancer are slim. :(

    I'm glad you decided to share this, and I hope you know you have my little bit of support, for what it's worth. :(

  2. I'm so sorry to hear this Pat.
    I'm hoping for the best (and a 6 rather than a 7).

  3. Wow. Just another hurdle in your life. But as usual it seems like you dealt with it on your terms.
    BTW...Gotta love the Doc-speak.

  4. Love the bedside manner...cold and calculated....such madonnas!

  5. Patrick, your honesty, as always, is so valued. Looking forward to reading the rest. The suspense is worse than the Who Shot Mr. Burns? caper.

  6. Pat, this is awful news....but I'm hoping your Part 2 tells us everything is OK (?)

    Sending positive thoughts your way...

  7. Doctor-Talk. Drives me crazy. I hate it when they say "Oh, I've never seen a positive result of a test like this..." SO? SO?

    Anyway, I am looking forward to Part Two, Patrick. I'm guessing by the title of this post that this was not gray news.

  8. A 6 or 7?! I'm sorry but if someone asked me if I wanted to be in a pants size 6 or 7 I might oblige with "fine". But if you ask me would I rather have an earthquake on a scale of 1 to 10 a 6 or 7 is the wrong answer for least evasive! OR if you ask if i would rather have 1 zit or 6 or 7 zits - hummmmm? Wonder which one I'd choose there!? Where did this dr go to school?
    hoping the rest of the story has a happy ending...

  9. And by the way...very sorry to hear about the diagnosis! Praying for wellness!

  10. You poor bastard....

    I'm kind of surprised they didn't do another biopsy. But I also get confused when I watch episodes of House, so I can't really say anything.

    That sounds rough nonetheless Pat. I'll be pullin' for you, even if it's only so I can continue faking being an irreverent 20-something when commenting on your posts. Keep us updated!

  11. The guy actually believed there is a cancer someone would prefer? The term 'cancer' alone is an illness!!

  12. Oh sweetie (hugs), hope it's soon all over and done with. I've had an under active thyroid for years, they are always threatening to remove the bloody thing (I get the goitres). Ladt week my 13yr old was also diagnosed with the same condtion (actually, we are celebrating, it's easily treatable, and her life will improve muchly once the meds kick in). It's true, any malignancy in the thyroid, is the slowest growing type of cancer you can get. But it needs to be removed, this you know. I'll be sending you all the most positive thoughts I can muster, look after yourself, hon.

  13. It's frightening and serious to get such news. Keeping good thoughts for you.


  14. I didn't want to make the first post too long... Apparently the reason that taking your thyroid out is complicated is that directly under it (and many times combined with it) are small parathyroid glands that create the calcium your body needs. You MUST have those glands.

    anyway post two of four or five coming tomorrow.

    Also, the reason they do so many needle biopsies at first is so they don't ever have to go back and do them again...

    Thanks for all your concern. I'm still here, alive and kicking.

  15. Don't you just love the descriptions the Doctors give you, I had one tell me the usual "It's no big thing, just some pressure, you wont feel a thing" I agreed with him and pointed out that it all depended on which end of the needle you were on, and like you---he lied.

    I have faith all will be well with you my Friend, Thanks for sharing

  16. Dang...
    That sucks.
    I'm not sure how he could tell you it wouldn't hurt. And then to call it grey news... Doctor sounds like a sadist.

  17. I know nurses give shots to each other in training, so they know how it feels. I'm not so sure about doctors...

  18. you totally lied when you told us you weren't even nervous or anything.

    i'll remember that next time you say that....


    liar liar....

  19. Ashley - LOL, when compared to a "normal" person, I wasn't that nervous...really!

  20. I don't envy my husband his job- He has had to tell people difficult things every day-
    I imagine it never gets easier and he always brings it home to me and the monkeys, because he is human.
    Sending positive vibes your way-

  21. Sending positive thoughts your way!
    A friend of mine had the same thing, and she was still young. Luckily she is fine now, after having treatment, and she is still blogging too!
    Hope this turns out O.K. for you too!

    Yeah, Doctors just stink at times, I'm totally with you on that one!

  22. 8 needles??? Even though it doesn't make a difference I'm sure, I think you are handling it like a champ. Not many people could stop and offer their take on something that is happening to them in such a light manner...

    I don't know if you pray or not, but I do and I'm saying one for you..

  23. 8 needles? that's what I said!
    thanks all for the kind words...

  24. I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm hoping for the best outcome for you.

  25. Pat, I gotta tell ya, first I would have kicked that doc square in the balls and second I would have run for the hills (or for sure a second, specialized opinion). A conversation like that is such bullshit and would have lit me up like a Roman candle. I don't even see how you could go back to him again...I wouldn't.

    Are you sure he is not related to the guy who pulled your wisdom teeth???

    My sister recently went through some similar voodoo medicine. Doctor really couldn't tell her what was the matter with her...could be stroke, could MS...could be friggin' northern lights...WTF is that???

    Can you tell I have serious doctor issues??

  26. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to see the subsequent posts, of course..I've had patients who've had biopsies to detect breat cancer and they all said that it was wayy worst than the mastectomy itself. Apparently, it HURTS like nothing other..I can't imagine there being 8 needles. Why is the biopsy inconclusive? That's so odd..! I hope everything will go okay, Pat.

  27. So sorry to hear this..but at least it was discovered early enough to have the option of treatment.....keep at those experts and get two or three opinions before making a decision. My thoughts are with you.

  28. All right, so this is a work in progress. My friend, I will pray for you. I think life has served you enough foul balls already...

  29. I'm really sorry you are having to go through this, Pat. I'm sending lots of good thoughts and prayers your way. I have only been reading your blog a short time and you seem to have a great attitude and good sense of humor...two things that can make a big difference when faced with a situation like this!

  30. Thanks for the good thoughts! I'm doing well, hoping it will all be over by early June!

  31. I;m glad you added the comment that
    you are alive and still kicking.. that takes a little of the suspense
    from the next chapter... don't leave us dangling too long.. lets
    get to the happy part..please.

  32. That sounds pretty scary. My wife had cancer surgery on her neck 22 years ago. It wasn't fun but it was gone after that. I wish you the very best including a quick recovery.

  33. Damnit, Pat. You've had enough already! I've just added you to my list of folks to keep in my heart and prayers. lots of love,

  34. Wow that really sucks. I am sorry to hear that and I will pray for a speedy recovery but I had to laugh at what the doctor left you with on the scale.

  35. Geez.... This doctor sure tried to put a 'bright side' on the situation....


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