Last week I had a PET scan as follow-up to my CT in July, which had shown a few enlarged lymph nodes. Cancer shows up bright on PET scans, and there were several bright spots on this one: three in my groin and one in my throat. There are clusters of lymph nodes in both those areas, so the fact that the bright spots showed up where they did is not so concerning as the fact that bright spots showed up at all.
The radiologist’s report on the PET scan was hard to decipher, and even though Victor was able to talk to him about it, there was uncertainty as to how the oncologist would interpret the results. I was eager to get in to see her this morning. Here’s what I found out:
- She thought it was weird that there’s a spot in my throat, nothing in my chest or abdomen, and then more spots in my groin. She seemed to think that the spot in my throat could be just an enlarged node from having a cold. That would be pretty great, if that’s all it is. I don’t know why it would’ve shown up bright on a PET scan if it’s not cancer, but all I know about PET scans is what my oncologist has told me. It’s possible she leaves out details sometimes. One time she spent 20 minutes (of an unimportant checkup) telling Val, my chemo buddy, about a really cool wine bottle opener she just bought.
- She wants to have the spot on my throat biopsied by a specialist. The area is relatively easy to access, and if it’s cancerous, it will help her determine the course of treatment. If it’s not cancerous, it will move the focus to my nether regions (heeheehee), which means…
- The nodes in my groin-al region are deep and therefore harder to biopsy, but if the throat thing is nothing, she wants to biopsy the other. That will suck. So it’s not like I WANT the thing in my throat to be cancerous, but I soooo hate the idea of a needle biospy on my nethers.
- The spots are each approximately one inch wide (“relatively small”). Dr. O says this is good because we have time to figure out how best to handle treatment, and also it gives her time to go on the vacation she’s scheduled for this week.
- It’s possible the new spots are follicular lymphoma, rather than the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma I was diagnosed with in 2009. Follicular lymphoma is quite a different beast; it’s something that doesn’t exactly go into remission, but is treated occasionally throughout a person’s life. I haven’t done any research yet, and I don’t want to until we get more test results. If that sounds ignorant to you, think of it this way: you know how it feels to check out a simple symptom on WebMD in the middle of the night, only to find that every possible cause is something that will kill you? Now imagine that that’s actually true. THAT is why I have no interest in researching a type of cancer I do not definitely have. That kind of anxiety does no good.
- Treatment possibilities include a bone marrow transplant and something to do with stem cells. Those options, I assume, are in addition to more standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, although I honestly don’t know. Again with the ignorance!
- One of the new standards of cancer care is a pneumonia vaccine. I got the first part of it today. I’ll get the second part in 56 days. Not 55. Not 57. FIF. TEE. SIX.
- She made me get a flu shot. I am very anti-flu shots, not because I think they’re part of a government conspiracy or because I think they’ll make me sick, but because I think flu shots do absolutely NOTHING to keep a person from getting the flu. Victor gets the shots every year (all hospital employees are required) and still gets makes-me-want-to-kill-him sick every winter. And YES, I know that one flu shot can’t possibly protect a person from every strain of the flu, but what’s the point then? Unless you’re 1,000 years old, WHAT IS THE FRIGGIN’ POINT?
- They took a gallon of my blood to test a vajillion things. (Did you know recurrent cancer causes a person to exaggerate wildly? I just found out!)
- If you’re counting, that’s three new holes in my body in one day. If I drink water, I’ll be like one of those wacky sprinklers that kids think are hilarious for five seconds.
Sooo… what happens now?
I’m waiting for the ENT to tell me when I can get in for a biopsy. That’s our next course of action, and there’s nothing else to do until we get the results.
And how does all this make me feel?
- Angry at cancer. It is such an asshole. You know this.
- Tired of doctors and tests and shots and scans and medical terminology. This is possibly a carryover from 2009.
- Frustrated at the idea that I have to start the fight all over again.
- Afraid that this fight could be even harder.
- Vain. Am I going to lose my hair again? Will I get even fatter?
- Confident in Dr. O’s methods. She’s flighty at times, but truly brilliant. I trust her completely.
- Eager to get started with whatever needs to be done so it can be over with ASAP.
I’m putting on my
poodle bulldog skirt and preparing to kick cancer’s big, fat, ugly ass AGAIN. I’d love to have your help.