James Keirstead

First post: Oct 29, 2021 Latest post: Feb 20, 2023
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Hello, family and friends, and thank you for your caring and concern as James undergoes treatment for Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. We will be updating this site with the latest news on his program and how it’s going, but want to begin with the story of how we got here.

Last spring, James became aware of a lump in the thyroid area of the neck which prompted visits to the doctor, and in June he received a diagnosis of Papillary Thyroid Cancer, the most common type, arising in the follicular cells. (As background, the thyroid produces hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.) James’ doctor recommended a thyroidectomy to remove the gland. Papillary Thyroid Cancer is typically extremely slow-growing, so the doctor and James agreed to schedule the surgery in October, after Cecilia and Cesar's September wedding. Surgery was originally planned for Oct. 26. James had noticed increased issues during September and early October, and was able to get an earlier date for same-day surgery, October 12.  

            During the surgery, doctors found additional, aggressive-growing cancer that had spread to the trachea and esophagus. While removing the cancer nodule, there was a small tear in the trachea which required immediate stitches and a halt in further surgery. Instead of heading home, James spent a week in the hospital, including four days in the ICU, three of them on a breathing tube to protect the healing stitches. True to form, James woke up sharing jokes and puns with the nurses!

            On Oct. 26, we learned that the biopsy of the cancerous tumor showed a diagnosis of Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer (ATC) arising from the Papillary cancer. ATC is extremely rare (1%-2% of thyroid cancer cases), and differs from other thyroid cancers in that it can spread quickly to other parts of the body. Our task now is to consult with doctors in the Kaiser Permanente and other systems and begin the best recommended treatment as quickly as possible.
             We know how much you love James and that you will want to know how his treatment is going, so we will post updates here as we learn more. Thank you for your offers to help! We will let you know what we need as we figure it out ourselves. Mostly, we appreciate your love, support, and prayers more than we can ever say.

            We’ll be in touch.

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