The C4 PET Scan (Cycle 4)
Updated: Jul 14, 2022
As part of my Chemo, the NORDIC protocol, I had a ‘progress’ PET scan. This scan is to check for Chemosensitivity – to check that I am responding to Chemo. I talked about this in my last post - A critical Juncture!
This was the second time I’ve had a PET scan, the first one being part of my diagnostic process back in late March/ early April. The difference between those 2 scans is that I had the 1st one in a public facility and the 2nd one in a private facility. I'm certain that I did write in a previous post that, I had my phone confiscated during the marinating period at the last scan. I’ll explain.
For the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, a contrast radiotracer is injected to identify areas of high metabolic activity. Cancer is a disease where high metabolic activity indicates areas of concern, so the radiotracer is attracted to these areas of high metabolic activity and is shown up on the scan. Makes sense? It does to me, just.
There is a period between having had the radiotracer injected and the scan, where one is left to marinate. In other words, left to let the radiotracer work its way through the body and find its way to those areas of metabolic activity. So, to not provide stimulus, I was told that the marinating period needs to be ‘quiet time’ where one must lay still and not have the radiotracer ‘falsely’ lighting up areas of the body. I was ‘caught ‘using my phone and was subsequently stripped of it. Now, here’s the thing……..at the bloody Private facility, I offered up my phone and was told that I could do what I want. WHAT? “Yeah mate, do what you want, that zero stimulus chat is bullshit. If you are inclined to relax by browsing (or doing whatever on your phone, then carry on”. Turns out that someone was exerting authority at the public facility……bastards 😂
So, the scan comes and goes without event. It's bloody uncomfortable though; lying inside the scanner with one’s arms above the head (to keep them out of the way), for 35-40 mins. Thoughts turn to, “what does it see”, what pictures will it produce to indicate how I’m going?
The possible outcomes were, put simply: -
Things are going great, the disease is greatly reduced (or gone) and we proceed to finish the treatment, including the transplant
Things are not so great but, we proceed to finish the treatment, including the transplant
Things are shite, we need to change the treatment.
The wait between the scan and getting the result was excruciating………..not knowing whether it would be good (1), bad (3) or indifferent news (2).
The next day, I was having a ‘pre-chemo consult’ and whilst I didn’t 100% know that the results of the scan would be given, it was logical to me that they would.
I sat, not really being able to concentrate on much, battered out a couple of work emails and waited.
As always, the consult was late. The haemo Registrar is lovely enough but always running late, seems to have very little time and can be a wee bit abrupt, to say the least. Her being late wasn’t a surprise and I just tried to relax and not sweat it.
The phone goes and I shout to Kerry, as these consults go quick, a lot is said and some of it can be hard to absorb so we agreed that Kerry would listen in.
I’m asked how I’m feeling. I say, very keen to hear my scan results. There actually was glee in her voice. My scan could not be better she said. At this stage in treatment, we could not ask for anything better, everything is looking excellent. She went on to say even, in case you ask….NO, we don’t stop…..we carry on with treatment to make sure this thing is in remission. We discussed other things but YES, you beauty, I’m heading for remission. This is the registrar that, when we discussed chemo and the fact that I could feel a reduction in some of my lumps, she was again gleeful. She stated that Chemo is amazing, and we need to give it credit for amazing outcomes. I asked about remission. Her answer was that we do not talk about the R word until after the transplant, but………. So there you have it, some fucking great news. I almost cried…….it felt like a great, great progress report and I’m soooo chuffed that it was the best outcome I can have.
Chemo tends to have a bad reputation. For me, however, I have learned that Chemo is evolving and rapidly, there are drugs and regimes that are very new and do not have the same suite of side effects that people traditionally think of Chemo as having.
I accept that many, many people may not have as positive outcomes as I am currently having and hope I continue to have. I accept that many people may have had pretty shitey Chemo experiences and that some may have still lost loved ones even after they have endured Chemo. Naturally, I have great empathy for the former and great sympathy for the latter. I'm not saying that Chemo is perfect, but It really does appear to me that Chemotherapy and one’s response to it is such an individual journey. For this patient however……so far……..