Last Year’s Leftovers

Minestrone - Low Iodine

This is a picture of a minestrone soup that I made last January.

Taken almost to the day, actually.

While I don’t expect anyone to remember what my family was eating a year ago, we’re kind of in a time warp here because … well, even though it’s a brand spankin’ new year, we’ve got last year’s leftovers cookin’.

Literally and figuratively. I made this same soup (with some modifications) tonight.

Astute readers may recall that during this time last year (January 2) The Husband was beginning the end of his thyroid cancer treatments. This meant that he was on what is known as the Low-Iodine Diet. As I wrote last year in this post (Life on the LID (Low Iodine Diet):

The timing with the beginning of the New Year is somewhat ironic; while most people go on diets at the start of the New Year, this one isn’t exactly voluntary. After patients with thyroid cancer have surgery (as The Husband did in November [2012] to remove his thyroid, which had two cancerous tumors), they receive radioactive iodine to destroy any potentially remaining cancer cells. But, to prepare for this, they need to deplete their body of iodine … hence, the Low-Iodine Diet.

(I swear, in the last few weeks I have learned more about iodine and iodide and salt than I ever wanted to know. And here I thought chemistry would be totally useless after high school.)

What they don’t tell you about this process  – or, what they neglected to tell us – is that it takes a fucking year for the radioactive iodine to do its work. (That shit takes it’s good old time, let me tell ya.)

I didn’t realize that when we went for last year’s scan. So there I was in the doctor’s office with The Husband – and this doctor (who we never met before; the regular doctor wasn’t available) tells us that “we’ll see in a year if there’s any cancer.”

Which is when I about lost my mind and gave the doctor a piece of it. Because nobody said anything about this taking A YEAR.

But yeah, apparently, that’s how these things go. Think of it like Pac-Man, you’re told. A slow Pac-Man.

So in the meantime, we were to just go about our lives for all of 2013. You know ….Feed the cat. Get the oil changed. Pick up the kids. Rotate the tires. Shovel the driveway. File the income taxes. Change the batteries. Renew the pool membership. Go to church. Watch another season of baseball. Pay the lawn guy. Shovel the driveway. Feed the cat. 

(“you pay the grocer, fix the toaster, kiss the host goodbye, then you break a window, burn the souffle, scream a lullaby …”)

And then it’s another auld lang syne and Dan Fogelberg is still running into his old lover in the grocery store and you’re wondering if the radioactive iodine that The Husband received in January 2013 has been actually doing its job for the past 12 months or if it’s been like Congress.

So. As 2014 dawns, we’re back where we were at the beginning … of 2013. Back on the low iodine diet in preparation for a radioactive iodine pill, which is in preparation for the yearly full body scan … which is to see if the radioactive iodine really has been eating up all the bad cancerous shit and hopefully, when he goes for the full body scan in 9 days, he gets the label cancer-free. 

It’s a surreal place to be. On one hand, there’s the definite feeling of having been down this road before. We’re old pros, we’ve got this. I break out the thyroid cancer diet cookbook again, I shop for the same ingredients, I look up my blog posts and Facebook status to figure out what I cooked when.

And we dust off the fuzzy cobwebs of our memories of a time we’d rather not think about – the uncertainty in so many ways, the fear of the unknown.

We know that we are in a better place, yet there is the feeling of being on the precipice.


It is a hell of a way to begin a year for the second year in a row.

And this (papilliary thyroid cancer) is the good cancer.

(Sure it is. Right, Roger Ebert?)

Let me be clear. When it comes to cancer treatments, this is far, far better than what we could be dealing with. It’s even better than what we were dealing with exactly a year ago, when as part of his treatment, The Husband had to remain completely isolated in our bedroom for almost two weeks. Thankfully, that isn’t part of the protocol this time around. Apparently, the dose of radiation that he’ll be getting will be low enough that he won’t need to be sequestered from us, like last time.

It is a seesaw, a balance of ups and downs.

It is what makes this life what it is.


Thanks for sharing this post!

4 thoughts on “Last Year’s Leftovers

  1. Sue

    Ugggh. here’s for being grateful and genuine about this. Laura had her thyroid removed almost two years ago. There was no sign of cancer, but it was a scare. And living with thyroid med adjustments is something to appreciate but wish away.

  2. Lisa Weinstein

    Best line of the entire blog: “you’re wondering if the radioactive iodine that The Husband received in January 2013 has been actually doing its job for the past 12 months or if it’s been like Congress.”

    Melissa you have such a wonderful way of infusing humor into a serious topic! Good luck to you and your family on Bill’s ongoing journey…..I KNOW that everything will turn out ok!!!

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