Today, a plane will take off in Toronto carrying radioactive isotopes destined for Saint John, New Brunswick.
At the same time, I will be in the car with my dad heading for the same destination.
Once we both arrive, the isotopes will be injected into my veins. I’ll sit in a dark room for close to an hour as they spread through my body. Nothing to read or do, as a stimulated brain can create a false image.
I’ll then lay on a PET scanning machine and move in and out of it slowly for around 30 minutes.
The radioactive isotopes will react with the sugar in my body so areas where there is metabolic activity will light up in an image. Any spots that light up are considered to be actively cancerous and growing.
Last time I had a PET scan, in July 2011, I had a spot light up just above my heart. Cancer wrapped around the superior vena cava that pumps blood into my heart. Another spot was located under my right arm and removed in surgery shortly after.
Today, after six months of chemotherapy, I am desperately hoping there are no bright spots on that image. That would mean I am cancer-free and require no more treatment. If there is still evidence of activity, my doctors may decide on 4+ weeks of radiation, which would consist of direct a ray of radiation to my chest for 10 minutes, 5 days a week. Then there’s a possibility that it could be worse…
I have always been optimistic about this cancer thing, but I enter today’s scan considerably less optimistic. I recently noticed I still have visible veins on the left side of my chest. Previously, those colourful veins were a sign that the cancer was squeezing around that big vein that goes into my heart and restricting blood flow. I’m scared that is happening again.
I likely won’t get the results today. I meet with my oncologist tomorrow and then my radiologist on Friday. That means I should know the results of the scan tomorrow, then what the remainder of my treatment plan is by Friday. Hopefully.
The last five weeks since finishing chemo have been a little snippet of what going back to my “normal” life could be like. I am ready to go back to work, get a place of my own, travel, and spend more time with friends. Having to get radiation will likely put all of that on hold and have me feeling sick again. I’ve been preparing myself for radiation ever since my diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready or willing. I would love so much to get news that this is all over starting today. But I’m uncharacteristically pessimistic about this one.
As a result, I am graciously collecting well wishes, good vibes, prayers, and healing chants from all my internet friends. You know where to send them. Thank you. I’ll let you know the results as soon as I know!