Paideia Member Posts: 4
edited March 2014 in Military Cancer Survivors #1

Very glad to see a group specific to military, although reading the entire string proved to make my blood boil at times (during some of the military and VA bashing). No system or org. is perfect, not even IBM, BUT I can say that I personally love the Marine Corps, imperfections and all. Isn't this how we feel about our children etc. Hmmm, sorry, now off to my questions:

-Any one with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma? I was curious as to the specifics of the RAI procedures after surgery. I've read posts that indicate staying away from children, to being hospitalized for 5 days after RAI. Want to know if it is worth it to foot the bill to have my kids with me. I am a single parent so either way logistics will be frustrating and a burden.

-I had jaw surgery nearly 16 years ago at Camp Lejeune, NC. Then smashed my mouth up so am probably thinking I have had more radiation (from x-rays) than the average person. Radiation is a factor in developing Thyroid Cancer. My last unit (well the dental folks there) lost my dental record that had the majority of this info in it. How will this affect me when I retire in 2 years? Will the VA reconstruct this scenario from the more limited info in my medical records (and the 4 screws in my jaw)? Or is it not worth it to pose the the possibility of it being service related? Seems like it could be likely.

-I've noticed that my many appt's have been documented electronically, i.e. I don't carry my medical record around like in the past. This is the wave of the future I am told. How does this get consolidated for future VA Review? Does everything have to be proven from the time of origination?

-Any experiences with multiple convalescent leave periods? Stigma, etc. I am weak on my current dose of hormone pills (post thyroidectomy) and wonder how much weaker I'll be when I stop taking the pills as required 2 weeks before the radioactive ablation AND am NO LONGER on conv. leave. I worry I'll barely be able to do my job.

-Any body have experience with weight gain after surgery and before getting the hormones evened out? Everyone knows the military does not like chunky bodies, but when you dream of ham sandwiches........ I am feeling pretty darn hypothyroid now, but am waiting for my doc to get back from TAD to say anything. In the meantime I've eaten my kitchen and fridge out. Anything and everything. IT IS SO BAD:(

Any and all replies would be very much appreciated. I really feel that info is the key to dealing with any type of illness, etc. I learned a lot from reading on this site and especially commend Spongebob for his time and efforts towards getting information out and answering question. The military and all its members ROCK!!



  • spongebob
    spongebob Member Posts: 2,565 Member
    Ahoy, Paideia -

    I'm a 26 year member of Uncle Sam's Canoe Gang and still on active duty (I'm still having fun plus I want to postpone giving half of my pension to someone I truly dislike, namely my ex-, for as long as possible... but I digress). Currently an O-5 mustanger.

    I am a colon cancer survivor so I can't really answer many of your specific questions regarding thyroid cancer - but there is a thyroid cancer specific discussion group here at CSN. I have no doubt they will give you all the good gouge you seek.

    I can answer a few of your Qs though:

    1. WRT having your kids with you post RFI; I have had several friends who have had the treatment and they were completely sequestured from EVERYone - including their kids. Talk to the folks at the thyroid cancer board and your docs and get their input, but my guess is that having them actually with you will be a non-starter. Where will you be getting the treatment? If it's at a MTF, there might be a Fischer House there where your folks (or possibly even the ex- depending on the quality of your relationship there) could stay with the kids. I got my CRC treatments at Bethesda NNMC. If you can get your treatments done there, you'regolden. They are in a joint oncology practice with the National Cancer Institute - which is right across the strees and they have a big Fischer House.

    2. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS look into the service-related aspects of ANY injuries or diseases you encounter while on ACTDU. I would start working on getting the med/dental records redone now while you still have a couple years to fight the red tape you're going to encounter. I would suggest getting the top brass (E or O side of the house as appropriate) involved if you get any push-back at all. Don't let anyone blow you off on this.

    3. The VA is onthe leading edge of electronic medical records (I guess they have to be on the leading edge of something). My strong suggestion is to make a complete photocopy of your medical record - including the electronic portions - prior to your ETS. Keep it in a safe place. You may get push-back from the medical types, but if your are leaving the service, it's your right to have a copy of your medical record in your hand as you walk out the door.

    4. As far as convo leave, regular leave, basket leave, and assigned duties goes, that's really a matter of command climate and what your job description is. What do you do? Is there anything you can do that would be less strenuous? No doubt you can get a LimDu profile from your doc. Although that is a "recommendation", I can tell you from a former CO/XO perspective it's a "recommendation" that we think long and hard about before we disregard it. Your command should be working with you. If you haven't briefed them about what's going on, you really should have a sit-down with the CO/XObehind closed doors. Remember, with current HIPPA regulations, your docs aren't permittedto have a discussion with your command unless you specifically authorize it - andmost are just too afraid of liability to do t even then, so it is incumbant on you to take the ball and run with it there.

    5. "Stigma" is a real issue in the profession of arms. Hell, that's one of the main reasons why I created this board! Back in the day (and I'm talking just a few years ago), if someone got cancer, they were history. People still operate under that misguided paradigm. We need to break that. The best way to do that is through active communication. The Coast Guard is currently convening a panel to look at how to "deal" with cancer survivors who are still viable members of our active duty force. The prime genesis of this board is one active duty E-7 who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but is doing well, has stable disease, and is able to do his job - within certain limitations. Oh, and he does his job exceptionally well. Hopefully we will develop an agency policy that works with folks like the Chief and the other services see it as a wayahead for themselves as well. Don't worry about stigma, do you job as best you can and do everything you can do. Remember this, medical condition is not something that can be discussed in officer or enlisted evaluations. Push-back if someone tries to do that.

    6. You're right, the military doesn't much care for chunky bodies (I will leave my usual jabs at Navy Chiefs out of this!). BUT, you have a medical profileand you are under treatment by a physician. I would even suspect that you have already had an IMB done - yes? You're golden. Now, I'm not one of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children so I don't know the particulars of your PRT and/or physical fitness/height:weight standards, but in the Coast Guard if you are under a physician's care usually all bets are off. our policy is: get well, then take 6 months to get back in shape and we'll see how you're doing then. Hopefully our sister services are following suit. Granted, we have had a fairly lax PRT system for years, but we're finally getting our armsaround it and I think that what we're doing is on the right track - and I believe we're using best DoD practices as we develop.

    I hope this is helpful info. Feel free to drop me a note here at CSN e-mail if you have other questions or concerns. You are not dealing with this alone. Be well.

    - SpongeBob
  • max10
    max10 Member Posts: 4
    Keep copies of all things done to you medically, tell your Doctor you will need to give it to the VA upon discharge. If you want to stay on active duty you will need to keep up with the rest. Leaders lead from the front.
  • 4theloveoflife
    4theloveoflife Member Posts: 8
    Make sure you get copies of all your records. I don't know about the specific cancer you have but i do know how the VA works when you get out and you NEED evrything because if they discharge you and then you try to disablity YOU have to do the paperwork they do not help out at all and they will reject you at first don't give up that is what they are hoping for. I was discharged a few years back just for Asthma and i had to fight to get anything more then 10% and they were kicking me out for 10%. i guess they must have changed things now. I am now fighting to get it for Ovarian Cancer which i know i had when i was in but have no way to prove that is when i got it.

    Don't make the same mistake i did and think there will no probelms if you get out on a discharge. I thought they would take care of me no ?'s ask but that is not the case. YOu are the only one who can look out for you.

    Hang in there it will get better. I hope you are still doing well and hope i can help i know it has been about a year since you put this on but i just found this web site.

    I can say the VA has been good about paying for everything except for the disablity.

    May i ask how old you are? and what job you have?
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    AuthorUnknown Member Posts: 1,537 Member
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