Radioiodine Ablation

I’m having the first of two injections this morning of a very expensive drug, Thyrogen, ahead of my radioidine ablation this weekend.

Thyrogen costs $1901.52 for two doses, but is fortunately on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS), and so only costs the patient (me!) $36.10. We were given a prescription for the Thyrogen on our last visit to Royal North Shore, and told that some pharmacists found it hard to get, so we should fill the prescription at the pharmacy in the nearby private hospital. We did, and the pharmacist subsequently said that it had to be kept cold, so how far was our drive. She wasn’t impressed when we said two hours. She put it in a foam box with some ice packs and we took an early trip home with no extra time to enjoy the city.

My two vials of Thyrogen

My two vials of Thyrogen

The radioiodine ablation is being used as a way of cleaning up any remaining thyroid cells. Interestingly, radioiodine is often used in diagnosis of thyroid cancer in other patients, which is yet another reason to think I should have had more pre-operative tests. It could’ve given me a correct diagnosis before the surgery and all¬†some of this waiting might have been avoided.

Nonetheless, on Friday I’ll visit North Shore Hospital again, and stay until Monday morning. The treatment is said not to have too many side effects, but I do have to avoid close contact with people for a period of time afterwards so that I don’t unnecessarily expose anyone to radiation. While I’m in hospital, visitors are only allowed to stay for fifteen minutes, and afterwards I have to sleep in a separate bed from Meghan for a little while and avoid contact with kids or pregnant women.

We have been unable to get any straight answers on a few questions, and often the literature differs from what doctors relay verbally. This is getting very frustrating, but I guess it’s part of dealing with a busy public hospital system (which, for the most part, has actually been excellent). However, one doctor did confirm that, despite the insular carcinoma being an aggressive type of cancer, the treatment program is still considered curative, not palliative.

Following the treatment, I’ll have a scan which ought to show up any remaining ‘hotspots’ of the cancer for further treatment, which could still involve further radioiodine or something else (chemo or more traditional radiotherapy).