Second opinion, thyroid cancer surgery finally put survivor in remission

It’s taken nine years, but Paulette Spivey finally can say with confidence that she’s living without any evidence of cancer. “I know that I wouldn’t have gotten well had I not gone to MD Anderson,” she says. “No one else could locate the source of my problem.” Initial thyroid cancer surgery and lymph node removal Paulette’s “problem” was the high level of thyroglobulin she continued to experience. She’d had her thyroid removed in 2008 after she was diagnosed with papillary cell carcinoma, an often slow-growing form of thyroid cancer. She had radioactive iodine twice, and in 2015, a second neck surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes. But she still had cancer. Over the years, Paulette saw four endocrinologists in Arkansas, where she lives. None of them could explain why her blood tumor markers were still detectable. But when a CT scan performed last October showed nodules in her lungs, Paulette became proactive. “My endocrinologist thought that it was a metastasis. His recommendation was that we wait six months and check it again to see if they were bigger,” she recalls. “I just knew I would be crazy if I had agreed to wait six months to find out if it is indeed metastasis.”   A second opinion at MD Anderson Paulette asked her doctor to refer her to MD Anderson for a second opinion. She had friends who’d been treated here and knew of its reputation from them. At Paulette’s first appointment, Maria Cabanillas, M.D., said that the likely reason for the persistently elevated thyroglobulin level was that not all of the thyroid cancer had been removed in 2008,...