Adventures In Scanning

August 29, 2017

We got the newest PET/CT results stating: ‘Excellent response to treatment’,  delivered by my happy, ever vigilant, super ninja, brilliant oncologist at 10:25 a.m. on Friday morning. (We got home at 10:00 a.m.) No need to spend the weekend, or the day for that matter, worrying about test results. He’s pretty special.

If you’ve never had the need for a PET/CT let me describe in detail and supply important shortcuts for a semi painless experience. First, one must fast for at least 6 hours prior so I’ve learned to call and get scheduled ASAP. This way you have a better chance of getting an early appointment, why starve all day? Next is a blood glucose finger stick to be sure blood sugar isn’t too high followed by accessing my port, injecting radioactive tracing glucose into my vein, and sitting back to wait for an hour while my body does it’s job of spreading the glucose through out. (The PET/CT allows the radiologist and Vignesh to see how the cancer metabolizes, and whether it has spread, or metastasized. In my case, it also shows how the tumor is responding to chemotherapy. If you look at the scan on a computer screen, the areas of active metabolic activity ‘light up’ like a lightbulb.)

During this hour of waiting, I am given the opportunity to watch a movie or TV program.  With the first scan I chose ‘Sense and Sensability’, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman…sigh, I adore a good love story. For the second and third scans, I chose season 1, episodes 5, 6, 7 and 8 of ‘Friends’. Half-hour segments, more conducive to immediate gratification.  Scan 4 was one hour of ‘Legends of the Fall’, Brad Pitt, Aidin Quinn, Anthony Hopkins, Julia Ormand. This was a poor choice due to it’s plethora of blood, guts, death and tragedy in the first hour.  Great film, poor timing on my part. Entertainment for this latest scan was ‘The Holiday’, Kate Winslet (again), Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black. Begins with lots of angst, unrequited love, just plain sad love, and then the promise of new happy love – all in the first hour. Perfection.
I’ve seen these movies multiple times, I have the DVD’s at home.  I don’t think I could watch half a movie if I didn’t already know how it would end. I’m sure the disproportionate anxiety would somehow show up in the brain portion of my scan. Maybe best to stick with half hour tv shows.

Hmmmmm….that begs further delving…another metaphor for another time.

Off to the big white machine where I meditate while it’s taking the pictures that will tell us if the current treatment is working or if I will need to switch treatments. All in all, the scan itself takes about 20 minutes. I am then whisked out the door and told that it will take about 3 business days for results…they don’t know Vignesh!

I’m also given directions to drink LOTS of water after the scan. This is normally very easy to do. This time we got in the car at 12:30 to drive to Steamboat Springs to visit Lene and Jason.  I can tell you that there are at least 3 decent bathroom break opportunities we took advantage of after leaving Denver and before reaching Silverthorn, and, I can attest to their quick highway access and cleanliness. But, if you DON’T stop in Silverthorn for lunch/potty break, the next stop – Kremmling, and it’s promise of a bathroom, is a LONG…LONG…LONG ways away! The absolute longest 37 miles on Hwy 9 – kidneys doing the backstroke withstanding strong threats to switch to freestyle. It wasn’t pleasant – not even remotely.

Back to scan results, my tumor has shrunk in size to 1.1 cm., down in size from the June 2 scan where it measured 1.5 cm. SUV uptake in the tumor is currently 2.8 – down from 6.6. It looks on screen, in Jim’s words: ‘eclipsed’, hardly any brightness at all. No visual metastasis, no lymph node activity, slight pleural effusion that I cannot feel at all with 0 activity. This is really good news!!! We will continue with the Cyramza/Taxotere protocol every three weeks (#7 was today) until either progression (not) or toxicity (hope not). We didn’t go further with the what-if’s.

No need, lets enjoy the days, the weeks, the months, the years, etc.


p.s.: Radio interview with Mel on KOOL 105 went great, I’ll attach the link after it has aired.

p.s.s.: We would absolutely LOVE to have you join us at the ‘Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk’ on October 1 at Washington Park. If you can’t make the walk and would still like to participate, you can join our virtual team.  Our team name is “The Possibilities” and here is the link.

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