I found out at last week's post-op meeting with my surgeon that they wanted me to get a PET scan. And why? Well, during my MRI and subsequent surgery the doctor's found that my tumor was no 9mm but was 2.1cm and the cancer had spread to one of my lymph nodes - making my cancer Stage IIB and not Stage 1 like they had thought. This means that there's a chance (albeit a small one) that my cancer has already spread, and the best way to find out if this is true was for me to get a PET scan, where they inject me me with radioactive dye and then scan my whole body to them identify any problems in my body.
To get this out of the way - no, this test is not where I get to pet a cute furry animal, and I will not be personally petted. :)
To prepare for the test I needed to have a 24 hour cleanse of all artificial ingredients, carbs, sugars, and dairy. I was allowed to eat protein and certain leafy greens. That's not so much of a tall order, but it's actually hard to do if you don't cook for yourself. Every place I went to buy pre-made food the food was combined with something on my "no" list. Example: grilled chicken with lemon herbs. Sounds good, but I wasn't allowed to have lemon. And of course, anything you tell me I can't have anything I'm just going to crave it. At midnight I had to stop eating entirely and only have small sips of water. My appointment was scheduled for 9:30am the next morning.
I woke up and immediately took a Xanax so I could handle the needles I would be getting. I was felling pretty fuzzy once I was seen by the technician. All told, as a test it was pretty easy, even as there were some stumbling blocks in the beginning. When they put the IV in my arm they tried to thread the catheter through but it would not go into my veins (and it hurt as they were moving the catheter repeatedly to try to make it work. Me: "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.") So, they took the IV out of my arm and did it through my hand instead. (I'm so glad I had the Xanax - being stuck twice would have induced unbelievable panic had I been unmedicated!) Through the IV they gave me saline solution and then gave me radioactive sugar. They then said I needed to drink 20 ounces of barium for the scan and offered me a choice of flavors. I ask them if they could combine flavors (I was eyeing both the banana and mocha.) The technician looked at me kind of funny - I guess normal people don't try to special order their barium. I opted for "mocha smoothie." It actually was pretty good - I was expecting the worst but I've tasted far worse with vegetable juices.
They then had me wait in a room in a comfy recliner for an hour where I drank the barium and waited for the IV solution to go through my veins. I warned the technician that I might fall asleep (Xanax makes me very tired!) and sure enough what seemed like seconds later he's waking me up to do the official test. I was taken into a room with a big machine to do the scan and they started by injected a radioactive iodine, and that felt a little weird. They said I would feel flushed all over for about 2 minutes and my pelvic area in particular would feel flushed as though I had wet my pants but they assured me that I won't have! I was so glad they warned me! From there they put me on a table that goes into a huge cylindrical machine that does the test. This test took 25 minutes and again I fell asleep. Then I was able to get up and leave. I got there at 9:30, they go me into a room about 10:10 and I was out by 12:10. I was warned upon leaving that, as I have radioactive dye in my system, I should try to avoid pregnant women and children for 12 hours. Not terribly reassuring but I am very grateful that there is a test that can try to find cancer so that we can get it early. I'm pretty scared about what they report (what if it's spread to my brain?) but hopefully this is just a blip on this crazy journey I'm on.
Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure:
The needle layout before the test. Why do they leave the for anyone to look at?!
The result - will this make me bionic?
The delicious smoothie they gave me before the test. Ok, not really delicious but I've tasted worse.
This is me getting ready to settle into my recliner to nap as the radioactive sugar infiltrate my system.
Some people have asked me how they can help (thank you!) For you, I have created a post which will keep you updated on what kind of help I could use. You can find it by clicking here.