Posts Tagged ‘PET scan’

Eighteen Weeks

July 1, 2014

twins ovalI made an appointment with my regular doctor, Dr. Thomas sometime in late February to discuss my once again elevated cholesterol count that was found in a complete blood work up I had done. It wasn’t obscenely high, but it was climbing and higher than where I had left off when we thought it was the Lipitor giving me those pains when it really turned out to be the “C” word. We discussed, as we did way back before I started on the Lipitor that I wanted to try to get it controlled on my own with diet and exercise.

In the span of three blood tests between the end of 2013 to February of 2014, it had already started dropping on its own. It went from 289 in December 2013 to 277 in January to 266 in February. I had already begun a more regular exercise regime (as much as my still recuperating body could muster) and my diet got better after the first of the year. I had been living on pastas and ice creams and pies and cookies–all the yummy comfort foods I could get a hold of. Fortunately (and I say that with tongue in cheek) that during the chemotherapy, all that sugary goodness was just maintaining my slight weight. But after it was all over, I knew I had to cut that stuff out because otherwise I’d easily be back to at least 30 pounds overweight and back behind that eight ball.

Then, around the end of April, about the halfway mark between “official” cholesterol tests, (meaning between February and my most recent one which was two weeks ago) we wanted to see how I was progressing and the numbers were even better than before and my cholesterol by now was down to 212, a cool decrease of 54 points. As it turns out, two weeks ago, the numbers had increased again slightly and it’s back up again to 256. Not terrible and completely fixable on my own and that’s my new goal as is once again losing this annoying spare tire yet again.

On May 1, I had my follow up visit with Dr. David and because I had just had all that blood work done the week prior he said the routine blood normally done in his office was unnecessary; he went off the other results, a copy of which we had sent to him anyway.
Then came the decision about the next PET scan and he wavered a bit and finally decided that having it done now (in May) would be superfluous and given the blood results and, of course, the PET scan results from January, he decided to wait another 3 months for PET scan number 3 so by the end of July or early August I’ll be having that done.

Well, everyone, coincidentally, this final official blog entry in The Cancer Series is number 18 and 18 is the number of weeks I was undergoing treatment for my Lymphoma. Eighteen weeks sounded like such an eternity that day, hours before I was admitted to the hospital and so many days during that time themselves felt like 18 weeks.

And now, with 20/20 hindsight, looking back at March 4 when this blog series started, 18 weeks really is no time at all and I’m grateful it was a finite time frame. I know there are so many whose prognoses are a lifetime of what I went through and in the scheme of things, I really had it easy, by comparison.

There are many things in my life I’ve always wanted to experience; see a tornado–from a safe distance, of course; experience an earthquake, which I’ve done, in Springfield, Illinois, of all places, a 5.4 one on the morning of my niece’s wedding in April of 2008. Those are two examples that readily come to mind. Going through cancer was not one of the things on that list. But having gone through it gave me a new perspective. I don’t know how much altogether it has or will change my overall outlook on some things, I’m pretty set in my ways, but for the most part I’ve learned that it’s not worth sweating the small stuff and, wisely…





I want to thank those of you for keeping up with my blog these past weeks. It helped me to write about my experience, to get myself on track with it and if I was able to touch one person who read this, then that little blip in my life was worth it.

Now I have to start thinking of things to blog about. I have a few ideas but my forte is, as many of you know, being snarky about just about everything under the sun so I always have that to fall back on. Plus, as they fit, I’ll be updating you with doctors’ visits and what not.

Happy early Fourth of July and to all my Canadian peeps, Happy Canada Day today.

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Fourth And Scan!

May 20, 2014

Not to belabor this story with the horrors of side affects the Chemo and the shots of Neulasta, the time release shot I was switched to (from Neupogen) after Chemo round #2 brought, I will simply summarize by saying it all went pretty much the same: starting with a blood test to make sure nothing out of the ordinary was going on to prevent me from each treatment, regaling the nurses with the confection of the week, getting set up in my chair away from the TV which seemed fixed on ABC and anyone who knows me knows that since One Life To Live was taken off, I don’t watch ABC and the one time we sat alone in that area, ultimately someone came in and decided to watch that channel and merely hearing those shows that took the soaps’ place was making me sicker than the Chemo was. And of course suffering the nausea and pain afterward.. Sometimes the nausea would set in on the way to the drug store to pick up that infernal Prednisone that would become my enemy for the next five mornings. But I always had my bucket.
There was one incident I had, actually it happened twice on two separate sessions when the infusions had to be temporarily halted. Knowing my system could tolerate the faster drip, (I’m assuming this is the reason) they started me off at a faster rate and it was too much all at once and even though they’d started me out with Benadryl and Zofran (to guard against nausea) the feeling of nausea set in and they had to send for Dr. David to check me out before they could get me started up again. Even with the faster pace of the Chemo drip, I was still the first one in and the last one out of each of my remaining sessions.
I still took my naps during my lunch breaks from work and I looked forward to them. Surprisingly, every once in while, I’d find myself waking up in a more supine position and not in the bolstered up sitting position I started out in. And there was minimal, if any, pain. Ariel suggested starting out that way next time and I could always sit back up if it became uncomfortable. With a little trepidation I did and it was fine. I was able to lay down again and with marked comfort. Bliss!
The true test of all this suffering was yet to come when I would have my first PET scan on Tuesday, October 29, 12 days after Chemo #4. This was to determine how effective the chemotherapy had been up to this point.
Bad news: I had to fast for at least 6 hours for this test. Good news: the test was scheduled for 11am. I was able to have a light breakfast, but before 5 am, so by 4:30, Ariel was downstairs rustling me up some grub: over easy eggs, toast and coffee. Even though I was suffering from a number of side effects from chemotherapy, loss of appetite was not one of them.
The appointment might have been scheduled for 11am, but by the time all the red tape of checking in and preliminary interviews–family history, other maladies I’ve ever suffered, if I have false teeth, what I had for breakfast on June 29 th 1983–and a general orientation had been done, I was glad for those eggs 7 hours prior.
The steps to having the scan were simple. I was to make sure there was no metal on my person (check!), surrender my wallet (check!), my phone (check!), and anything else that might show up in the scan (check!). I was to sit in the QUIET ROOM to relax where a technician would first take a sugar blood test by pricking my finger (that’s relaxing!). Then, they injected a sugar substance via IV (the sugar was radioactive and the cancer is attracted to the sugar..again…relaxing), then gave me a pillow and blanket so I could really unwind in the darkened room for 45 minutes. During those 45 minutes the door to the QUIET ROOM must have opened and slammed at least a dozen times, loud conversations were going on just outside in the corridor and far off slams of doors to other rooms were slamming shut every so often. I was imaging that in the right conditions, I’d be glowing now that I was full of toxic sugar. And, my tummy was growling–the eggs had finally worn off. The QUIET ROOM was not very relaxing and quite frankly, I’d have gotten more rest playing Candy Crush on my phone.
The procedure is pretty much the same as an MRI or a CT scan, you just lay as still as possible on the table that takes you inside the tunnel and it whirs and bangs and clunks for 35 minutes and you ignore that itch that suddenly creeps up in the most unlikliest of places as best you can.
When it was over we were told the results could be ready by 4pm but most likely not for 24 hours. Ariel had other ideas about that and made it his goal to get them as soon as they were hot off the presses.
We stopped for breakfast. Finally! I remember we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for some more of their pumpkin filled donuts. Earlier, for my birthday Ariel brought me some and they were filled with real pumpkin filling, like a pie. On this day it was more like a pumpkin flavored custard filled donut which lacked the impact and deliciousness of the first ones, unless it was just that particular store that was faltering but whatever the reason, they were quite dissatisfying.
And once back home the waiting game began. 4 o’clock arrived like a gunshot at a relay race and Ariel was on the phone, calling Dr. David who, as it turned out, had already been sent the results and his take on them was that the tumor had begun to shrink.
When I was diagnosed back on July 31, the mass had measured 15cm x 8.3cm (5 29/32in x 3 17/64in) and after this PET scan it had melted down to 9.1cm x 4.8cm (3 37/64in x 1 57/64in). Good news indeed, and the cancerous activity seemed to be a minimum.
We were happy. But I still had two more treatments to go (at least), so we remained cautiously optimistic for the time being but we had something positive to share on our upcoming first major outing since the end of July.

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