wednesday

I feel good today.  I feel more confident than I have in a week.  Yesterday’s good news makes everything seem more manageable.

I’m so grateful for all of my friends and family, both online and off.  I’ve heard so many stories now of moms, wives, and sisters who have gone through the same thing I have and have come out stronger.  I hoped from the beginning that the last month or so would just be another story to tell, and that seems closer to reality now.  I can do this, thanks to all of you.

I have a question, though.  A friend told me to insist on a PET scan.  I asked my doctor about PET scans yesterday and she felt it unnecessary, but I know so little still that I guess I don’t really know what a PET scan will tell me in addition to what I know from my CT scan.  Can anybody give me advice on that front?

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4 responses to “wednesday

  1. I’ve gone through pretty much every scan there is… MRI for the brain, abdominal CT, bone scan, and PET.

    I get an MRI pretty much every three to six months (after melanoma was found to have spread to my brain – which was (so far) successfully treated with CyberKnife radio surgery), and every six months I have an abdominal CT and full-body PET (after melanoma spread to my small intestine – successfully treated with surgery).

    The PET scan is somewhat similar to a CT in that you go through the giant CT scanner donut, but instead of merely ingesting that nasty barium/iodine smoothie, you will be injected with a radioactive isotope affair which will essentially “cling” to any cancer in your body. You will most likely have to go on a low-fat/no-carb/high protein diet (these can lead to false readings) and no exercise (muscle fatigue also leads to false readings) a few days before the scan, then on the scan day you’ll go in, they’ll inject you with the radiation, then you sit in the dark for an hour as it works its way through your system. You have to remain still. Then they take you to the scanner and they scan your entire body.

    When you’re done (about 45 mins or so?), drink lots of water to help flush the radiation from your body. Then come the results… The scan looks like a full-body CT — all the bones and stuff show up. They’ll be looking for little glowing orbs in your body. These are cancer. I had one last year that revealed a small sub-cutaneous melanoma on my thigh about the size of a pea. It was caught early and removed through surgery (yeah, I’ve had more surgery than you can imagine). Had I not had the PET, I would have never known about it.

    I’ve always wondered about the amount of radiation I’m getting with all these scans, and asked my oncologist about it. He said that at this point in my life (and cancer), the radiation risk is low compared to the risk of cancer spreading uncontrolled should it go undetected.

    If you ever have any questions feel free to send me an e-mail, or call… I know this is a lot to go through right now, but just take it one step at a time… We’re all sending good thoughts your way

    – Rich

  2. This may explain why your doc feels it is unnecessary:

    http://imaging.cancer.gov//patientsandproviders/cancerimaging/nuclearimaging

    It really may not give more actual useful information based on what they already know about your tumor and how they plan to treat it.

  3. I asked the Medical Director at my company (I work at a pharmaceutical ad agency that specializes in oncology) and she agreed that it’s not necessary if your other scans are clear, that it wouldn’t tell you anything additional. She also said that you have a very common and curable type of breast cancer. Don’t know how reassuring that is, but stay strong and know that we’re praying for you

  4. Thank you Rich for the explanation of the differences. I have always wondered that myself. Sending prayers and good vibes your way Jen.

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