The next afternoon I spoke with my friend's husband. We played phone tag all morning and finally caught up with each other at the end of the day. It was such a relief to talk with him after my phone calls from the day before.
Dr. H specializes in esophageal cancer, but he is very familiar with all head and neck cancers. I told him about my visit with the surgeon. I mentioned that she kept our conversation pretty light. 'Oh,' he said. 'I don't want you to think that we don't take your cancer seriously. We do know that it is cancer and that it is a scary diagnosis...'. I came back with, 'No! Please keep it light. I have realized that I deal with it much better that way.' If I start thinking of it on par with other, much scarier cancers, ones with poorer prognoses, that's when I start to freak out. It's too much. Trivializing it. That's the way to go. Get rid of it's fucking power.
So, with that out of the way, we had a very nice conversation. He confirmed what the surgeon had said about what to expect from the surgery. I realized that most of my questions at this point had to do with the treatment. I couldn't get a clear expectation about the treatment from what I had read online. I was going to need a radioactive iodine treatment at some point- sooner rather than later from what the surgeon had told me. I think they were a bit more concerned because the cancer had spread to lymph nodes- it wasn't just confined to the thyroid. Unfortunately, questions about the treatment would have to be answered later by the endocrinologist. It wasn't something Dr. H did himself.
We also discussed how Pittsburgh is a hot-spot for papillary thyroid cancer globally. They're not sure why. When I was at the surgeon's office I was asked to participate in a study on papillary thyroid cancer. The part of my thyroid that would not be needed for my pathologies would be used in the study. They're hoping to find out why so, so many people get it here. Honestly, since I've gotten my diagnosis I am surprised to hear how many people seem to know others who have had this. It's crazy. But good to know that all of those people? Are doing just fine.