I had the delight of experiencing the Mainland cancer system yesterday and the volume and wait times that go along with it, but got my first PET scan under my belt. It was tedious and the nurses seemed too young and flippant about my drug addict veins, but it all worked out in the end. Having the pre-scan wait time surrounded by my lovely Christy, the absolute gem that is Bif Naked and my aforementioned stalwart Englishman made it all worthwhile.
Pete and I had a lovely time in the Vancouver sun and took advantage of the boyfriend/girlfriend time.
Then we raced back to Victoria today for the dreaded scan results appointment with Dr. A. Nervous as all fuck, but so giddy in the waiting room while we sussed out the newbies and cancer rubes around us.
Dr. A delivered the news in her patent pending straight-up style and was endlessly patient with our billions of questions. Here's the good news:
- No cancer in my bones
- No cancer in my organs
- The CT scan found no evidence of cancer anywhere else in my body
Here's the bad news:
The PET scan showed evidence of cancer in some lymph nodes in a few different places.
Some of this evidence is hard, like the nodes in my chest wall. Some of it is dubious, like the nodes in my neck, which could be benign and because I'm fighting off a cold. And some is disappointing, like the small enlarged node under my right arm, which was previously my non-cancer side. Here's Dr. A finding that one and me feeling her find it:
The good of all this is that none were large enough to be picked up on the CT scan, so all tiny, but still there.
A bit more bad news:
My heart is now operating at 53%, where before it was a healthy 68% at my last test, post-chemo. Dr. A doesn't know if this is the effect of the previous chemo, the crazy strep I had last year or a one time bad test, so I have to get another test to figure this out. The bad part about this is that the chemo drugs I'll be taking this time around are also hard on my heart, so I may have to supplement with some kind of heart medicine and a trip to a cardiologist.
And just a tad more bad news:
I have scarring on my lung from something I got during my seventh round of chemo last time - ground glass syndrome, which is a lung disease like pneumonia that prevented me from going my full eight rounds last time. The bad part about this is that one of the other drugs I'll be taking in my next chemo immersion has the potential for fucking up my lungs even more. But this one is a watch and see situation.
I start chemo next week on a brand new cocktail my doc had to get special permission to put me on. In the meantime, I have appointments with my plastic surgeon, a radiation oncologist and a surgeon so they can all say "yep, Dr. A is right, we won't do anything for you right now." I'll get my first round through a vein in my hand while I wait for an appointment to get a port, which is a little catheter surgically implanted in a chest vein to avoid weekly vein searching.
Dr. A was extremely pragmatic about my prognosis. She admitted that a recurrence is ballz (in so many words) and not something you'd wish on your worst enemy, but with drugs (of course she'd say drugs), she can extend my life by years. She was good enough to play teacher and spell out all the potential side effects of the chemo cocktail I'll be getting, which range from hair loss to allergic reactions and anorexia.
- Everything cancer docs tell you is based on research and analytics and is by no means holistic or even very specific.
- These people have no idea who they're dealing with.
So let's get back to throwing our kisses to the audience.